Standard Withdrawn, No replacement   Last Updated: Jan 05, 2024 Track Document
ASTM D6151/D6151M-15

Standard Practice for Using Hollow-Stem Augers for Geotechnical Exploration and Soil Sampling (Withdrawn 2024)

Standard Practice for Using Hollow-Stem Augers for Geotechnical Exploration and Soil Sampling (Withdrawn 2024) D6151_D6151M-15 ASTM|D6151_D6151M-15|en-US Standard Practice for Using Hollow-Stem Augers for Geotechnical Exploration and Soil Sampling (Withdrawn 2024) Standard new BOS Vol. 04.09 Committee D18
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Significance and Use

4.1 Hollow-stem augers are frequently used for geotechnical exploration. One reason they are used is that the method is considered a “dry” drilling method where drill fluids are not needed to advance the borehole in unstable formations. Often, hollow-stem augers are used with other sampling systems, such as split barrel penetration resistance testing, Test Method D1586, or thin-wall tube sampling, Practice D1587 (see 2.5). HSA may be used to advance a drill hole without sampling using a pilot bit assembly, or they may be equipped with a sampling system for obtaining soil cores. In some subsurface conditions that contain cohesive soils, the drillhole can be successfully advanced without the use of a pilot bit assembly. Intermittent drilling (advancing of the HSA column with or without a pilot bit) and sampling can be performed depending on the intervals to be sampled, or continuous sampling can be performed. During pauses in the drilling and sampling process, in situ testing or other soil sampling methods can be performed through the hollow auger column below the lead auger assembly. At completion of the boring to the depth of interest, the hole may be abandoned or testing or monitoring devices can be installed. Hollow-stem auger drilling allows for drilling and casing the hole simultaneously, thereby eliminating hole caving problems and contamination of soil samples (2). The hollow-stem auger drilling and sampling method can be a satisfactory means for collecting samples of shallow unconsolidated subsurface materials (2). Additional guidance on use can be found in Refs. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

4.2 Soil sampling with a double-tube hollow-stem sampling system provides a method for obtaining continuous or intermittent samples of soils for accurate logging of subsurface materials to support geotechnical testing and exploration. A wide variety of soils from clays to sands can be sampled. The sampling systems can be particularly effective in dry soft to stiff clayey or silty deposits but also can work well under saturated conditions. Saturated cohesionless soils such as clean sands may flow and cave during drilling (see Note 1). In many cases, the HSA soil core sampling system can produce very little disturbance to the sample and can provide samples for laboratory tests for measurement of selected engineering properties. Large-diameter soil cores, if taken carefully, can provide Class C and D samples as described in Practice D4220. The HSA systems can also provide disturbed samples of unsaturated sands and gravels with some structure preserved. Full 5-ft [1.5-m] long cores usually cannot be obtained in unsaturated sands due to increasing side wall friction between the dry sands and inside surface of the sample core barrel. Sample length of 2 to 2.5 ft. [0.60 to 0.75 m] is generally the limit of amount of sample that can be recovered in unsaturated sands before the friction between the sampler and the sand becomes too high and causes blocking or plugging of the sampler. Shorter large diameter core runs of 2.5 ft [0.75-m] with the 5-ft [1.5-m] sample barrel system, or with a 2.5-ft [0.75-m] sample barrel system, have generally proven to result in the best samples.

Note 1: Research on thin-wall piston sampling in clean sands indicates that in general it is impossible to obtain truly undisturbed samples of saturated clean sands. These soils can dilate or collapse upon insertion of a sampling tube. The hollow-stem auger double-tube system can only obtain partially disturbed samples of sands below the water table.

4.3 Hollow-stem auger drilling is considered a shallow drilling method with maximum depth of drilling of 200 to 300 ft (60 to 90 m) depending on torque and pull down/retract capacity of the drilling equipment and subsurface conditions of the formation(s) encountered. Saturated loose unconsolidated deposits further limit maximum depth that can be attained. HSA can act as casings set through unconsolidated surficial soils and drilling can be converted to other methods (see 2.5) for deeper drilling.

4.4 Drilling and soil sampling can be accomplished with a variety of HSA systems. Types of systems can be chosen depending on the advantages of handling, sampling requirements, and subsurface conditions. There are two basic types of systems. One type of system uses inner drill rods or hex rods connecting the sampler or pilot bit assembly to the surface for advancing and retrieving the sampler barrel or pilot bit assembly (Fig. 16 and Fig. 25). Another system uses a wireline latching system in the HSA column to lower, latch, and retrieve a core barrel or pilot bit assembly (Fig. 35).

4.5 Double tube HSA sampling systems can be particularly advantageous for sampling water-sensitive soils, such as collapsible soils, since fluid is not used in the drilling process. Since no pressurized circulation medium is used during the drilling process, the possibility for hydraulic fracturing of formation materials and core contamination from drill fluids is reduced.

4.6 Difficulties in drilling may occur if cohesionless soils are drilled below the water table. Possibilities for sand lock or wedging of cuttings may occur (2). In cases where sands enter the HSA, water or drilling fluid may be added to the HSA column to provide hydrostatic balance or special pilot bit assemblies can be used (see 5.6). Problems may occur in getting the soil core barrel or pilot bit assembly back to the bottom of the HSA column. Highly saturated sands or liquefiable material may be drawn into the HSA by vacuum created when the sampler barrel or pilot bit assembly is initially pulled back through the cutter head of the lead auger assembly from the bottom of the borehole.

4.7 Consideration should be given to proper decontamination and cleaning of drilling equipment, hollow-stem augers, samplers, and soil coring components.

Note 2: 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 sampling. Users of this practice are cautioned that compliance with Practice D3740 does not in itself assure reliable results. Reliable results depend on many factors; Practice D3740 provides a means of evaluating some of those factors.

Practice D 3740 was developed for agencies engaged in the laboratory testing and/or inspection of soil and rock. As such, it is not totally applicable to agencies performing this practice. However, user of this practice should recognize that the framework of practice D 3740 is appropriate for evaluating the quality of an agency performing this practice. Currently there is no known qualifying national authority that inspects agencies that perform this practice.


1.1 This practice covers how to obtain soil samples using Hollow-Stem Auger (HSA) sampling systems and use of hollow-stem auger drilling methods for geotechnical exploration. This practice addresses how to obtain soil samples suitable for engineering properties testing.

1.2 In most geotechnical explorations, Hollow-Stem Auger (HSA) drilling is combined with other sampling methods. Split barrel penetration tests (Test Method D1586) are often performed to provide estimates of engineering properties of soils. Thin-wall tube (Practice D1587) and ring-lined barrel samples (Practice D3550) are also frequently taken. This practice discusses hole preparation for these sampling events. For information on the sampling process, consult the related standards. Other in situ tests, such as the vane shear Test Method D2573, can be performed below the base of the boring by access through the drill string. Other drilling methods are summarized in Guide D6286. Practice D1452 describes solid stem augers.

1.3 This practice does not include considerations for geoenvironmental site characterizations and installation of monitoring wells which are addressed in Guide D5784.

1.4 This practice offers a set of instructions for performing one or more specific operations. This document cannot replace education or experience and should be used in conjunction with professional judgment. Not all aspects of this practice may be applicable in all circumstances. This ASTM standard is not intended to represent or replace the standard of care by which the adequacy of a given professional service must be judged, nor should this document be applied without consideration of a project’s many unique aspects. The word “Standard” in the title of this practice means only that the document has been approved through the ASTM consensus process.

1.5 All observed and calculated values shall conform to the guidelines for significant digits and rounding established in Practice D6026, unless superseded by this standard.

1.6 The values stated in either inch-pound units or SI units [presented in brackets] are to be regarded separately as standard. The values stated in each system may not be exact equivalents; therefore, each system shall be used independently of the other. Combining values from the two systems may result in non-conformance with the standard.

1.7 Hollow-stem auger drilling for geotechnical exploration often involves safety planning, administration, and documentation. This standard does not purport to specifically address exploration and site safety. 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 its use. Performance of the test usually involves use of a drill rig, therefore, safety requirements as outlined in applicable safety standards, for example OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) regulations, DCDMA safety manual (1),2 drilling safety manuals, and other applicable state and local regulations must be observed.

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