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4 FIELD TESTS TO CHECK SUITABILITY OF SOIL FOR ROAD WORK

In order to determine the suitability of a particular soil it is essential to know the proportion of each
material in the soil and also whether the particular material possesses the properties required of it.
For instance, a road soil that is 95 percent sand will not cohere, and clay that does not possess the
property of cohesion is useless as a road material and will do nothing but make dust.
Therefore it is required to perform some field test prior to use soil in road work. The following 4 filed
test can be made to check its suitability for road work.

To Determine Proportion of Sand in the Soil


Take a sample of the dry soil and weigh it. Put it in a glass and fill with water. Agitate it and pour off the
clay. Do this several times until nothing but sand remains in the glass. Dry the sand and weigh it. The
result will give the percentage of sand in the soil. The remainder is clay and silt.

To Determine the Proportion of Clay & Silt


Silt is generally darker in colour than clay and a sample that contains too high a percentage of silt will
not have the characteristic of brown colored clay. Silt settles more rapidly than clay. If the sample is put
into a glass and mixed with water and allowed to settle the clay will remain muddy while the silt will
settle within a few minutes. A sample that clears very quickly has too much silt. In this type of soil it is
required to add some clay before using it as a road material.

To Determine Quality of Clay


Pure clay is very retentive of moisture and becomes plastic and unstable when wet, and as it abrades
easily, produces all dust when dry. The extent to which these objections occur depends on whether the
clay is of slaking or non-slaking variety. The slaking variety is undesirable as it is muddier in wet weather
and dustier in dry weather. To determine the qualities of various clays perform slaking test as described
below.
Make several balls of the same size of the different clays and dry them out. Place them in water so that
they are covered entirely. The balls which hold their shape longest after being placed in water have the
highest resistance to slaking, and that clay is to be preferred for use in the road construction. It is
important in this test that if various clays are being compared, the proportion of sand in each sample
should be the same and should not exceed 25 percent. If sand is in excess, it should be removed before
doing the slaking test.
If the clay is of the slaking variety, the balls will disintegrate almost as soon as they are put in water,
such a clay is not suitable for road work. Samples that contain too much silt will not show good nonslaking qualities and will break up at once in water. Clay requires to be added in such soils before using
it.

To Determine the Suitability of Sand


Place a sample of the sand in a vessel containing water and agitate the water until the sand is
thoroughly in suspension. Then when the sand has been allowed to settle pour off the water slowly.
Good quality sand will not be carried off with the water but will remain in the vessel until practically all
the water has been drained off. Bad quality sand will not meet this test and is not suitable of use on
road works.

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