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Atterberg Limits and Gradations

Atterberg Limits

Atterberg Limits and Gradations


Presentation Outline
Atterberg Limit Test

2009 CPOW Annual Education Conference


January 22, 2009

History
Definition
Test Procedures

Presented By:
Serkan Sengul, P.E. Geotechnical Engineer

Gradation Test
Definition
Test Procedure

Demonstrations Performed By:


Nick Andrade Laboratory Manager

Conclusions
Atterberg Limit Test Demonstration

Atterberg Limits

Brief History
Created by Albert Mauritz Atterberg, a Swedish chemist
and agricultural scientist, in the early 1900s.
Gained formal recognition from the International Society
of Soil Science at the Berlin Conference in 1913.
Introduced to the field of geotechnical engineering by
Karl Terzaghi in the 1920s.
Terzaghis assistant, Arthur Casagrande, standardized
the tests in his paper in 1932 and the procedures have
been followed worldwide ever since.

Atterberg Limits

Atterberg Limits

Definition

Definition

Definition

Atterberg limits are the limits of water content used to


define soil behavior.
The consistency of soils according to Atterberg limits
gives the following diagrams.

Atterberg Limits

Definition
Liquid Limit (LL): The lowest water content
above which soil behaves like liquid, normally
below 100.
Plastic Limit (PL): The lowest water content at
which soil behaves like a plastic material,
normally below 40.
Plasticity Index (PI): The range between LL and
PL.
Shrinkage Limit (SL): The water content below
which soils do not decrease their volume
anymore as they continue dry out.

Atterberg Limits
Test Procedures

Atterberg Limits
ASTM 4318 Liquid Limit Test Procedure
EQUIPMENT

ASTM D 4318 - Standard Test Method


for Liquid Limit, Plastic Limit, and
Plasticity Index of Soils
ASTM D 427 Standard Test Method for
determining the shrinkage limit. (Not a
common test in Geotechnical Industry.)

Atterberg Limits

Atterberg Limits

Atterberg Limits

ASTM 4318 Liquid Limit Test Procedure

ASTM 4318 Liquid Limit Test Procedure

ASTM 4318 Liquid Limit Test Procedure

STEP 1:
Take approximately 20-grams
of the soil that was previously
passed through a number 40
sieve and place it into the
porcelain dish.

Thoroughly mix the soil with a small amount of distilled water until it
reaches a consistency of a smooth uniform paste.

STEP 3

Add a small amount of water to


the dish.

Adjust the liquid limit


apparatus by checking the
height of drop of the cup. The
point on the cup that comes in
contact with the base should
rise to a height of 10 mm.
Practice using the cup and
determine the correct rate to
rotate the crank so that the cup
drops approximately two times
per second.

Atterberg Limits

Atterberg Limits

Atterberg Limits

ASTM 4318 Liquid Limit Test Procedure

ASTM 4318 Liquid Limit Test Procedure

ASTM 4318 Liquid Limit Test Procedure

STEP 4
Place a portion of the
previously mixed soil into the
cup and spread it into the cup
to a depth of about 10 mm at
its deepest point.

STEP 2

The soil pat should form an


approximate horizontal
surface.

ASTM

STEP 5

Use the grooving tool carefully


cut a clean straight groove
down the center of the cup.

The tool should remain


perpendicular to the surface of
the cup as groove is being
made.

AASHTO

Atterberg Limits

Atterberg Limits

ASTM 4318 Liquid Limit Test Procedure

ASTM 4318 Liquid Limit Test Procedure

STEP 7
Take a sample, using the spatula,
from edge to edge of the soil pat. The
sample should include the soil on
both sides of where the groove came
into contact. Place the soil into a
moisture can.
Don't forget to weigh and record the
empty can mass prior to placing the
soil.
Weigh the moisture can containing
the soil, record its mass, and place
the can into the oven.

STEP 8

If performing Multi-Point Method (Method A), obtain three


ranges of N values by repeating the previous steps. N-Value
ranges should be between 15-25, 20-30, and 25-35.

Determine the water content from each trial by using the same
method.

STEP 6
Make sure that the base of the
apparatus below the cup and the
underside of the cup is clean of soil.
Turn the crank of the apparatus at a
rate of approximately two drops per
second and count the number of
drops, N, it takes to make the two
halves of the soil pat come into
contact at the bottom of the groove
for a length of 13 mm(1/2-inch).
N should be between 20 and 30
(Method B). If not, start over again
by adding more or less water to
reach the proper N value.
Otherwise, record the number of
drops on the data sheet.

Atterberg Limits
ASTM 4318 Liquid Limit Test Procedure
STEP 9 (cont.)
If you are using the multi-point method, then plot the number of
drops, N, (on the log scale) versus the water content (w). Draw the
best-fit straight line through the plotted points and determine the
liquid limit (LL) as the water content at 25 drops.

Atterberg Limits

Atterberg Limits

ASTM 4318 Plastic Limit Test Procedure

ASTM 4318 Plastic Limit Test Procedure

STEP 1
Take approximately 20 grams of the soil that was previously passed
through a number 40 sieve and add water until the soil is at a
consistency where it can be rolled into a 3 mm diameter ellipsoidal
soil mass without sticking to the hands.
3-mm diameter reference rod
used for consistency.

Gradations
ASTM 136 Test Procedure

STEP 3
Use sufficient pressure to roll the
mass into a thread of uniform
diameter by using about 90
strokes per minute.
A thread of soil is at its plastic
limit when it is rolled to a
diameter of 3 mm and crumbles.
Gather at least 6 grams of
sample from the portions of the
crumbled pieces.
Determine the water content.
Water content obtained is the
plastic limit.

Gradations

A representative weighed
sample is poured into the top
sieve which has the largest
screen openings. Each lower
sieve in the column has smaller
openings than the one above. At
the base is a round pan, called
the receiver.

Definition

ASTM 136 Test Procedure

A gradation test is performed on


a sample of aggregate in a
laboratory. A typical sieve
analysis involves a nested
column of sieves.

Gradation Test

The column is typically placed in


a mechanical shaker. The
shaker shakes the column,
usually for 5 to 10 minutes.
After the shaking is complete
the material on each sieve is
weighed. The weight of the
sample of each sieve is then
divided by the total weight to
give a percentage retained on
each sieve.
The size of the average
particles on each sieve then
being analysis to get the cutpoint or specific size range
captured on screen.

ASTM C136 - 06 Standard Test Method for Sieve Analysis of Fine


and Coarse Aggregates
This test method is used primarily to determine the grading of
materials proposed for use as aggregates or being used as
aggregates.
The results are used to determine compliance of the particle size
distribution with applicable specification requirements and to
provide necessary data for control of the production of various
aggregate products and mixtures containing aggregates.
The data may also be useful in developing relationships
concerning porosity and density.
Accurate determination of material finer than the 75-m (No. 200)
sieve cannot be achieved by use of this test method alone.
ASTM C 117 for material finer than 75-m sieve by washing
should be employed.

Gradations
ASTM 136 Test Procedure

COARSE SANDS

FINE SANDS

Atterberg Limits and Gradations

Atterberg Limits and Gradations

Atterberg Limits and Gradations

Conclusions

Conclusions

Conclusions

By plotting the
gradation results
determine the
coefficient of
uniformity (Cu )
and Coefficient of
curvature (Cc)

Using the
gradation results
along with the
calculated Cu
and Cc values
determine if the
soil is well
graded or poorly
graded

Using LL and PI determine the soil classification.

Atterberg Limits and Gradations


Conclusions

Percolation test is a passive and cheap way to estimate


permeability.
Permeability depends primarily on the average size of the pores,
which in turn is related to:
Distribution of particle sizes (gradation)
Particle shape (gradation and Atterberg limit)
Soil Structure ( geotechnical experience)
The smaller the particles the smaller the average size of pores and
lower is the permeability.

Atterberg Limits and Gradations


Thank You.
If you are still awake, please join us by the
podium to observe a demonstration of the
Atterberg test.