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Natural Moisture Content (NMC)

The natural moisture content (NMC) is a significant variable and the behavior of soil is
highly dependent on the initial water content and the initial degree of saturation. The
natural moisture content of soils is variable with seasons, which is higher during the wet
climate than the moisture content during the dry period. The NMC was either of the order
of or lower than the optimum moisture content (Frempong 1992).
Though, the soil moisture content do not have any detrimental effect on slope stability,
but for clayey soil, the degree of saturation may affect the slope stability. The natural
moisture content for the present study was calculated as per ASTM D2216 (2010) and
range of it is presented in Table 4. It varies from 8 to
34 % (Fig. 3a), this seems to be because of structural configuration of soil particles. Soil
at MGS4 contains higher moisture content which indicates poor packing and presence of
higher voids whereas soil at MGS2 shows comparatively good packing as it contains
lower moisture. A higher value of NMC indicates the possibility of greater compaction,
whereas the lesser the value, less would be expected compaction in future. Thus, the
volume accommodation will be higher in MGS4 and lower in MGS2.
5.2 Specific Gravity
The angle of repose and friction angle of slope forming unconsolidated geo-materials
depend upon the specific gravity with other factors (particle size distribution, particle
shape and size, amount of water present, state of packing, curvature of the slope and
applied stress level). The angle of repose increases with increasing specific gravity of the
unconsolidated geo-materials (Williams 2000). In the present study, the specific gravity
of the soil samples passing through 4.75 mm sieve was calculated by water pycnometer
as per ASTM D854 (2014) and range of it was given in Table 4. The specific gravity of the
soil of all locations is almost uniform (Fig. 3b). It indicates the soil particles in terms of
weight have same nature and probably similar kind of parent material. Since the specific
gravity of soil of all the locations lie above 2.0 and below 3.0, thus the soils have neither
any organic matter nor any heavy substances.
5.3 Particle Size Distribution
The particle size distribution analysis plays important role on estimation of strength
parameters and to understand the hydrological and structural properties of the soil. The
result of this test is used to evaluate the grading of soil and to determine suitable
stability measures. The value of friction angle of geo-material is a function of particle size
distribution, particle shape and surface roughness, specific gravity of individual particles,
state of packing and applied stress. The porosity and packing density of the soil may also
be determined by using the data obtained from particle analysis (Koner and Chakravarty
2015). The friction angle reduces with decreasing particle size (Williams 2000). The
particle size distribution analysis (ASTM
D6913 2009) was carried out by performing a wet sieve for the coarse soils part, while
the hydrometer test was used for the fine soil fraction (ASTM D422 2007). The semilogarithmic graph was plotted for the particle size distribution curves between percent
finer on abscissa and sieve size (mm) on ordinate (Fig. 4a).
The variation of the particle size fractions of the studied soils is presented in Fig. 4b. All
the studied soils have higher sand size fractions (more than 40 %) with relatively less
variation. Gravel and silt size fractions have relatively higher variations and ranges from
8.6 to 38.6 and 4.4 to 12.5 % respectively. Clay size fractions have the highest variation
and ranges from 7 to 36 %. The result of the grain size distribution of the studied soils
are summarized in Table 4. The majority of studied soils are classified as SM and SWSM
group in accordance with the unified soil classification system (ASTM D2487 2011).
5.4 Atterberg Limits
The Atterberg limits have been extensively used for identifying engineering properties of
soils and for soil classification. The plastic limit (PL) and liquid limit (LL) are often
collectively referred to as the Atterberg (or consistency) limits. The PL and LL are the

water content where soil is transformed from semi-solid state to a plastic state and
plastic state to a liquid state, respectively. The PL and LL are mostly related to surface
area and clay fraction of soil (Dolinar et al. 2007). The difference between LL and PL is
well known as plasticity index (PI). In general, soil with smaller PI has better workability in
engineering applications. The Atterberg (or consistency) limits testing was performed as
per standard (ASTM D4318 2010). The Casagrande device was used to determine the
liquid limit (LL) (Casagrande 1940). Plastic limit (PL) was determined using 3-mm rod
formation method (McBride 1993). The plasticity index (PI) was calculated by taking the
difference between LL and PL. The liquid limit curves of the five studied soils were shown
in Fig. 5a, which shows relationship between numbers of blows versus water content. The
value of water content on the ordinate corresponding to 25 blows gives the LL. The
ranges and variations of liquid limit, plastic limit and plasticity index were presented in
Table 4 (Fig. 5b). The unified soil classification symbol SM and SWSM for all the studied
soils was determined from plasticity chart drawn between PI on the y-axis and LL on the
x-axis (Fig. 6). The term plasticity describe the ability of soil to undergo unrecoverable
deformation at constant volume without cracking or crumbling (Koner and Chakravarty
2015). High plastic soils are those which have LL higher than 50 and tend to swell with
water content. Low plastic soils are those that have LL less than 50 and do not swell with
further addition of water (Amadi et al. 2015). Thus the result obtained from the Atterberg
limit test, it may be concluded that the soils of MGS1, MGS2 and MGS5 have LL\50 and
PI\15 and soils of MGS3 and MGS4 have LL>50 and PI>15. So, soils at MGS1, MGS2 and
MGS5 are low plastic whereas MGS3 and
MGS4 are of high plastic in nature.