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Specific Gravity

(Standard Test Method for Relative Density and Absorption of Fine Aggregate)

Statement of Problem

To determine the specific gravity of the soil. The specific gravity may be expressed
as bulk specific gravity, bulk specific gravity SSD (Saturated-Surface Dry), or
Apparent Specific Gravity.

Significance and Use

Bulk specific gravity is generally used for calculation of the volume occupied by
the aggregate on various mixtures containing aggregate, including Portland cement
concrete, bituminous concrete, and other mixtures that are proportioned or analyzed
an absolute volume basis. Bulk specific gravity SSD is used to determine the
surface moisture on fine aggregates. Apparent density pertain to the solid making
up the
constituent particles not including pore space within the particles which is
accessible to the water. Lastly, absorption values are used to calculate the change in
the mass of an
aggregate due to water absorbed in the pore spaces within the
constituent particles, compared to the dry condition.

ASTM Designation
ASTM C128 Standard Test Method for Relative Density (Specific Gravity) and
Absorption of Fine Aggregate

1. BalanceA balance or scale having a capacity of 1 kg or more, sensitive to 0.1 g
or less, and accurate within 0.1 % of the test load at any point within the range of use
for this test method. Within any 100-g range of test load, a difference between
readings shall be accurate within 0.1 g.
2. Pycnometer (for Use with Gravimetric Procedure)A flask or other suitable
container into which the fine aggregate test sample can be readily introduced and in
which the volume content can be reproduced within 6 0.1 cm3. The volume of the
container filled to mark shall be at least 50 % greater than C 128 01e12 the space
required to accommodate the test sample. A volumetric flask of 500-cm3 capacity or a
fruit jar fitted with a pycnometer top is satisfactory for a 500-g test sample of most
fine aggregates.
3. Flask (for Use with Volumetric Procedure)A LeChatelier flask as described in
Test Method C 188 is satisfactory for an approximately 55-g test sample.

4. Mold and Tamper for Surface Moisture TestThe metal mold shall be in the
form of a frustum of a cone with dimensions as follows: 40 6 3-mm inside diameter at
the top, 906 3-mm inside diameter at the bottom, and 75 6 3 mm in height, with the
metal having a minimum thickness of 0.8 mm. The metal tamper shall have a mass of
340 6 15 g and a flat circular tamping face 25 6 3 mm in diameter.
Test Specimen
The soil sample was obtained in accordance with ASTM D854. The sample should
be thoroughly mixed and reduced to obtain a test specimen of approximately 100 (+ or -) 10

Test Procedure
1. Subsequently immerse the dry aggregate in water in at room temperature for a
period of 24 (+ or -) 4 hours.
2. Decant excess water with care to avoid loss of soil, spread the sample on a flat
nonabsorbent surface exposed to a gently moving current of warm air, and stir
frequently secure homogenous drying.
3. Continue drying with constant stirring and test at frequent interval until the test
indicates the specimen has reach a surface-dry condition.
4. For test for surface moisture, hold the mold firmly on a smooth nonabsorbent
surface with the large diameter down.
5. Place a portion of the partially dried aggregate loosely in the mold by filling it to
overflowing and heaping additional material above the top of the mold by holding
it with the cupped fingers of the hand holding the mold.
6. Lightly tamp the fine aggregate into the mold with 25 light drops of the tamper.
7. Remove loose sand from the base and lift the mold vertically. If surface moisture
is still present, the fine aggregate will retain the molded shape. Slight slumping of
the molded fine aggregate indicates that it has reached a surface-dry condition.
8. Test the specimen by gravimetric procedure:
8.1. Partially fill the pycnometer with water. Introduce into the pycnometer 500
(+ or -) 10 grams of SSD fine aggregate, and fill with additional water to
approximately 90% of capacity.
8.2. Manually roll, invert, and agitate the pycnometer to eliminate air bubbles.
8.3. After eliminating all air bubbles, adjust the temperature of the pycnometer
and its contents to 232 if necessary by partial immersion in circulating
water, and bring the water level by partial pycnometer to its calibrated
8.4. Determine the total mass of the pycnometer, specimen, and water.
8.5. Remove the fine aggregate from pycnometer, dry to constant mass at a
temperature of 100 5, cool in air at room temperature for 1 hour and
determine the mass.
8.6. Determine the mass of the pycnometer filled to its calibrated capacity with
water 23 2.


Weight of pycnometer
- 170 g
Weight of beaker
- 240 g
Weight of beaker + soil sample
- 346 g
Weight of soil sample
- 106 g
Weight of pycnometer and water
- 665 g
Weight of water
- 495 g
Weight of pycnometer + water + sand
- 726 g
Saturated Surface Dry Soil
- 112 g

MASS (g)


Oven-Dry Specimen


Pycnometer with Water


Pycnometer with Water and Specimen


Saturated Surface-Dry Specimen


A. Bulk Specific Gravity

= 1.92
665 112 726

B. Bulk Specific Gravity (SSD) =

C. Apparent Specific Gravity

D. Absorption


B S C 665 112 726


= 2.65
B A C 665 98 726

112 98


Summary of Results
Bulk Specific Gravity


Bulk Specific Gravity (SSD)


Apparent Specific Gravity



14.29 %

VI. Discussion on Findings

= 2.12

= 14.29

The specific gravity of soil is an important parameter that is used together with other soil
parameters (such as void ratio and degree of saturation) to compute additional useful
information. It may be expressed as Bulk Specific Gravity, Bulk Specific Gravity SSD
(Saturated-Surface Dry), or Apparent Specific Gravity. And based on ASTM D 854 Table 6-3, we
conclude that the soil sample (s.g. = 2.65) is "Sand", having an Apparent Specific Gravity
ranging from 2.65 - 2.67.