Standard Historical Last Updated: Aug 03, 2023 Track Document
ASTM D6951/D6951M-18

Standard Test Method for Use of the Dynamic Cone Penetrometer in Shallow Pavement Applications

Standard Test Method for Use of the Dynamic Cone Penetrometer in Shallow Pavement Applications D6951_D6951M-18 ASTM|D6951_D6951M-18|en-US Standard Test Method for Use of the Dynamic Cone Penetrometer in Shallow Pavement Applications Standard new BOS Vol. 04.03 Committee E17
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Significance and Use

5.1 This test method is used to assess in situ strength of undisturbed soil and compacted materials (or both). The penetration rate of the 8-kg [17.6-lb] DCP can be used to estimate in situ CBR (California Bearing Ratio), to identify strata thickness, shear strength of strata, and other material characteristics.

5.1.1 Other test methods exist for DCPs with different hammer weights and cone tip sizes, which have correlations that are unique to the instrument, such as Test Method D7380.

5.2 The 8-kg [17.6-lb] DCP is held vertically, and therefore is typically used in horizontal construction applications, such as pavements and floor slabs.

5.3 This instrument is typically used to assess material properties down to a depth of 1000 mm [39 in.] below the surface. The penetration depth can be increased using drive rod extensions. However, if drive rod extensions are used, care should be taken when using correlations to estimate other parameters, since these correlations are only appropriate for specific DCP configurations. The mass and inertia of the device will change and skin friction along drive rod extensions will occur.

5.4 The 8-kg [17.6-lb] DCP can be used to estimate the strength characteristics of fine- and coarse-grained soils, granular construction materials, and weak stabilized or modified materials. The 8-kg [17.6-lb] DCP cannot be used in highly stabilized or cemented materials or for granular materials containing a large percentage of aggregates greater than 50 mm [2 in.].

5.5 The 8-kg [17.6-lb] DCP can be used to estimate the strength of in situ materials underlying a bound or highly stabilized layer by first drilling or coring an access hole.

Note 1: The DCP may be used to assess the density of a fairly uniform material by relating density to penetration rate on the same material. In this way, undercompacted or “soft” spots can be identified, even though the DCP does not measure density directly.3

5.6 A field DCP measurement results in a field or in situ CBR and will not normally correlate with the laboratory or soaked CBR of the same material. The test is thus intended to evaluate the in situ strength of a material under existing field conditions.


1.1 This test method covers the measurement of the penetration rate of the dynamic cone penetrometer with an 8-kg [17.6-lb] hammer (8-kg [17.6-lb] DCP) through undisturbed soil or compacted materials, or both. The penetration rate may be related to in situ strength such as an estimated in situ CBR (California Bearing Ratio). A soil density may be estimated (Note 1) if the soil type and moisture content are known. The DCP described in this test method is typically used for pavement applications.

1.2 The test method provides for an optional 4.6-kg [10.1-lb] sliding hammer when the use of the 8-kg [17.6-lb] sliding mass produces excessive penetration in soft ground conditions.

1.3 Units—The values stated in either SI units or inch-pound units 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 nonconformance with the standard.

1.4 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, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.5 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 04.03
Developed by Subcommittee: E17.41
Pages: 7
DOI: 10.1520/D6951_D6951M-18
ICS Code: 93.080.01; 93.080.20