Standard Active Last Updated: Dec 23, 2016
ASTM D5298-16

Standard Test Method for Measurement of Soil Potential (Suction) Using Filter Paper

Standard Test Method for Measurement of Soil Potential (Suction) Using Filter Paper
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Significance and Use

5.1 Soil suction is a measure of the free energy of the pore-water in a soil. Soil suction in practical terms is a measure of the affinity of soil to retain water and can provide information on soil parameters that are influenced by the soil water; for example, volume change, deformation, and strength characteristics of the soil.

5.2 Soil suction is related with soil water content through water retention characteristic curves (see Test Methods D6836). Soil water content may be determined using Test Method D2216.

5.3 Measurements of soil suction may be used with other soil and environmental parameters to evaluate hydrologic processes (1) and to evaluate the potential for heave or shrinkage, shear strength, modulus, in situ stress and hydraulic conductivity of unsaturated soils.

5.4 The filter paper method of evaluating suction is straightforward with a range from 10 to 100,000 kPa (0.1 to 1000 bars).

Note 1: The quality of the result produced by this standard is dependent on the competence of the personnel performing it, and the suitability of the equipment and facilities used. Agencies that meet the criteria of Practice D3740 are generally considered capable of competent and objective testing/sampling/inspection/etc. Users of this standard are cautioned that compliance with Practice D3740 does not in itself ensure reliable results. Reliable results depend on many factors; Practice D3740 provides a means of evaluating some of those factors.


1.1 This test method covers laboratory filter papers as passive sensors to evaluate the soil matric and total potential (suction), a measure of the free energy of the pore-water or tension stress exerted on the pore-water by the soil matrix (1, 2).2 The term potential or suction is descriptive of the energy status of soil water.

1.2 This test method controls the variables for measurement of the water content of filter paper that is in direct contact with soil or in equilibrium with the partial pressure of water vapor in the air of an airtight container enclosing a soil specimen. The filter paper is enclosed with a soil specimen in the airtight container until moisture equilibrium is established; that is, the partial pressure of water vapor in the air is in equilibrium with the vapor pressure of pore-water in the soil specimen.

1.3 This test method provides a procedure for calibrating different types of filter paper for use in evaluating soil matric and total potential.

1.4 Units—The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. The inch-pound units given in parentheses are mathematical conversions, which are provided for information purposes only and are not considered standard.

1.5 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

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Book of Standards Volume: 04.08
Developed by Subcommittee: D18.04
Pages: 6
DOI: 10.1520/D5298-16
ICS Code: 13.080.05