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Dr. K.R. Arora


/l,E. (Civil); ME. (/10m",): Ph. O. (lrrf))
Fonner Professor and Head {)f Civil Engg. Depanmcnl
Engineering College. KOTA (Raj.)


Phones : 23262700. 23285798. Fax: 23243180
email: slpub@ysnl.com www.slandardpublishers.com
published by :
A. K. Jain
For Standard Publishers Distributors
'170S-B , Nai Sarak, Delhi-llOOO6.

First Edition, 1987

Second Edition, 1989
Third Edition, 1992
Fourth Edition, 1997
(Revised and Enlarged)
Reprint. 2000
Fifth Edition, 2000
Reprint, 200 I
Reprint, 2002
Sixlh Edition, 2003
(Revised and Enlarged)
Reprint, 2004


Exclusive rights by St,1ndard Publishen; DistribulOn;, Delhi for publication, distribution and eJl:port. All righlS reserved. No
parI of lllis publication in general and diagrams in particulil[ may be reproduced or transrrutted in any fonn or by any
mean~, electronic. mechnnical. photo copying, recording or any information storage and retrieval system. without tbe prior
written permission of the publisher and author.

Price: Rs. 27S-00

ISBN, 81-8014-028-8

Laser Typesetting by : Bhargave Laser Printers. Delhi.

Printed by : Lomus Olfset Press, Delhi.
Fig. No. 32.2 page 839 and Fig. No. 32.7 on pagt: 848 of !.hIs publication have been reproduced wiLh
permission of 81S, from IS: 1893 (Part 1)-2002 to ~hich reference IS invited forJrurther details. It is desirable
thai for more complete details, reference be made only (0 the lalest version of this standard. which is
available from Bureau of Indian Standards, Manak Shawan, New Delhi.


In this edition, the text has been revist..xJ and updated. A new chapler on 'Geotechnical Earthquake
Enginccring' has been includt:d to introduce the readers to the recent developments. The importance of geo-
(Cehnical aspeclS of earthquake engineering has considerably increased in recent years, especially after !.be Bhuj
Earthquake of 2001. On the suggestions received from readers, this chapter has bLocn included in this text book.
TIle uulhor heartily Ihanks his wife Mrs Raui Arora and son-in-law Dr. B.P. Suncja, Lecturer (Selection
scale) in Civil Enginecring, Engineering College, Kota for the assist<lnce provided. The author also thanks Sh.
Bhagwan Sawroop Sharll1<l. Droughtsman, Engineering College, Kota for excellent drawings.
TIle author gnucfully acknowledges lhe courtesy of the Bureau of Indian Standards, 9 Bahadur Shah
Zafar Marg, New pclhi-llOOO2 to include two ligures from IS: 1893 (Pan 1)-2002.
~ Suggestions for further improvement of tile text will be gratefully acknowledged.
. KOTA (Raj.) -Dr. K.R. ARORA
July, 2003


The basic aim of the four!.h edition of Soil MecIJanics and FOllndlltion Engineering is the ~e as lbat
of the earlier thrL"C editions. namely. to present Ihe fundllmentals of the subjcct in a Simplified manner. III this
edition, a number of improvements and additions have been incOrl)Orated to make the text more useful.
A large number of multiple·choice questions and objective type questions (wilh answers) have been
added at the end of each chapter, Chapter 30 gives the detailed procL>dure for conducting nineteen common
laboratory experiments. Olapter 31 covers !.he basic principles of Rock Mechanics. Appendix A gives the
glossary of common terms for ready reference. SelCCted rcferel ccs and a list of relevant publications of
Bureau of Indian Standards are given at the end for furlher study.
It is gratifying that the book has heen appreciated by students, teachers and practising engineers
throughout the country. TI1C book has established itself as a useful text in most of the enginccring colleges
and technical institutions of the country. The author is grateful to !.he teachers and students who have sem
!.heir comments, suggestions and letters of appreciation.
111e author thanks his colleagues Dr. R. C. Mishra and Sh. N. P. Kaushik for Lheir help in proof reading.
111e author also thanks his wile. Mrs. Rani Arora for her assistance in the revision of the book. The help
received from Shri Bhagwan SlIwroop Sharma, Draughtsman, in improving the diagrams is appreciated .
EffoTlS made by !.he publishcr Sh. N. C. Jain and his sons Sh. Ajay Kumar Jain and Sh. Atul Kumar Jain
for bringing out this edition in a short lime and in a good form are appreciated.
10 spite of every care taken to ensure accuracy. some errors might have crept in. The au!.hor will be
grateful 10 the readers for bringing such errors, if any. to his notice. Suggestions for the improvements of the
text wiU be gratefully acknowledged.
KOTA (Raj.) -Dr. K.R. ARORA
February 26, 1997

Soil mcdtanics and Foundation engineering (gcolcchniClI engineering) is a [asl developing discipline of
civil engineering. Considerable work: has been done in [he field in the last 6 dcc.'ldes. A student finds it
difTiOJII to have access to the latest literature in the field. The author b.1S tried to collect the material from
various sources and [0 prescnt in the form of a lext.
The text bas been divided into twO parts. The first pan dc.'lls with the fundamentals of soil mcchanics.
The second pout dc.lIs with earth rCUlining structures and foundat ion engineering. 'nle subject matter has been
presented in a logical :lntl org:mi.scd manner such liwi it may be laken up serially without llny loss of
continuity. ' :hc book covers the syllabi of undergraduate courses inn Soil Mechanics <lod Foundation
Engineering prescribed by most Indian universities and institutes.
An aucmpt has bccn made to explnin the fundamentals in a simple. lucid language. Da<;ic co~epts have
been emphasised throughout. The author. who has about 25 years of 1C<1ching experience. has paid specia l
'attention to the difficulties experienced by students. A large number of illustrative examples have been given
to show the application of the theory to field problems. Numerical problems, with answers, have been givell
for practice. Some objcctive type questions have also been given at the cnd of each Chapter. l11c. text Is
profusely illUStWled with diagwms ~d charts. Latest IS codes have been followed. as far as possible.
References are given at the end of each chapter. As complete switch over to 51 units has not taken place in
-India, bolh MKS nnd SI units hove been used.
The book will be uscrui for the undergraduate students. The student,,> appearing for various competitive
examinations and AMlE will :llsa find the text useful. A large number of ch•• rts and tables have been included
to make the text useful (or'pmctising engineers.
lbc author is grateful to Prof. Alam Singh of Jodhpur University who introduced the subjcct to him
about 3 decades ago as a student :1t M.B.M. Engineering College, Jodhpur. lbe author is indebted to Prof. A.
Varadarnjan of nT, Delhi, who helped him in understanding some of lhe intricate problems during his
doctoral programme. The author thanks the faculty of Geotechnical Division of liT, Delhi. for the help
extended. '[be author al<;o thanks his fellow research scholars, Dr. K.K, Gupta, Dr. D. Shankcriah, Dr. T.S.
Rekhi, Dr. 8.S. Salija, and Dr. R.N. Shahi for the fruitful discussions.
Ihe autbor is grateful to Prof. A.V. Ramanujam. Principal, Engineering College, Kola for constant
encouragement. 'Ibe author thanks his colleagues at Engineering COllege, Kota, especially Sh. Amin Uddin,
Drnughtsman. 'Il1e author also thanks his wife Mrs. Rani Arora who helped in proof reading and other works
related with this tex!. 'Ille help received from his daughter Sangeela Arora and son Sanjeev Arora is also
In spite of every care Inken to cnsure acx:uracy. somc errors might have crept in. The author will be
grateful to readers for bringing such errors to his notice. Suggestions for improvement of the text wilt be
acknowledged wilh lhanks.

January 4,1981
The notations have been explained wherever they appear. The following notations have been more
commonly used.
A .. Pore p~ure parameter P,,; Activeprcssureforce w...... Weigh t of water
'" Actlvjtyofsoils Pp z: Passive pressure force W,,,, WeighlofsoHds
A,,= Arcaofvoids p= Pressure Wq ", Wotertablcfactor
A"". Angstrom p"", Activeprcssure Wy '" Water Illble factor
A .. ::: Air conlcnt Pp'" PlL'iSiveprcssure IV '" Water content

Qv = CoefficicnI of compressibility pit:. Horizontal pressure M= Mass,lotalmass

B= I'orepressureparamelcr Q= force,Load Mw: M<lSSofwater
c.. ::: Compression index "' Totlliquantityofwatcr M, = Mnssof.$Olids
a Coefficient of curvature Q.. '" Allowable load WI'" IJquidlimit
e,,: Uniformity Cocfficient QII'" Ulli rrulleload wp'" Plasticlimit
= Coefficient of elastic uniform q'" SurcIUIrge 14'6'" Shrinkagelimit
compression '" IntensityofLood Y'" Dulkunitwcighl
c:: Unit cohesion .. Discharge Yd'" Dryunitwcight
c' ... EffeCtive unil cohesion qc'" Stlllic cone resist.'lnce Y_ '" Saturated unit weight
e.. ::: Apparent u;>hcsion q" '" Net fOOling pressure capacity y' '" Submerged unit weight
Cv'" Coefficient of consolidation qlll: Netsufebcuringcapacity Y6= Unit weight of solids
DlO'" Effectivesize qnp '" Nctsafesettlementpressure Yw - Unit weight ofwuter
D,= Foundation depth qlUl:: Allowable bearing pressure b", Angle of wall friction
Dr = RelalivedcnsilY q,,:: Ultimntebcaringcapacity f .. Strain
E:: Modulus of elasticity '" Unconfined compressive ll'" Coefficientofviscosity
c o: Voidralio strength ).l'" Poisson'srutjo
FS::: Factor of safely S .. DegreeofSllturation '" Micron
f:c Friction = Surface area '" Coefficiemofviscosity
G '" Specific gravity of panides S,,= Stabi lity no. P'" Displaremcnt
g:::Acceleration due to gravity S,,,, Sensitivity '"' SettlemeOi
h= Hydraulichcad $ : Shearstrcngth PI'" Fi na[ selliemcnt
I", Momcnl.of inertia = Settlement 0 : \OUll sucss
Ip = Plasticityindcx T;; Tangential component 0: Effectivestress
i"" Hydraulic gradient '" Temperature 01,0"2003'" Principa.l Stresses
::: Angleofsurcharge TI _ Surfacelension ai, 02, OJ '" Erfective principal stresses
K" Cocfficicntofabsolutc 1= TIme 0,. '" PreconSOlidmion pressure
permeability U:: Degreeofconsclidation Oz,a..- Vertical Stress
Ko = Coefficient of eanh pressure al
;;1bJ.alporeWllfcrp-cssure Or, all '" Horiwntal stress
U= PoreWllterpressure "t'" Shear stress
K a ", Coefficient of UClive pressure
ii .. Hydrost<llic exo;::ss pore pressure "tm '" Mobilised shear strength
Kp '" Coefficient of passive pressure
V;; \bIume,totlll volume, Velocity .,:. Angle of shearing res.istance
k '" Coefficient of pcrmwbility
V,,: \bfumcofdrysoil .'., FJfeaive angle of shearing
.. Coefficient 0( subgmde reaction
V,,= \-blumcofair resislOncc
k, = Coefficient of subgrade reaction
V w '" Volumeofwmer ~ '" Apparent anglc of shearing
kp '" erefficient of percolation
V,,:: Volumeofvoids resistance
N .. Numberofblows(SP1) t ... ". roobilised angle of shearing
VI:: VoIumeofsolids
'" Perocntfincr resistance
.s Normal romponent
v:s Velocity
vr .. Cri tical velocity
p ... Bulkdensity
n:: Porosity Pd- Drydensily
IS.," Percentage air voids V, '" Seepage veloci ty
W .. Weight.totalweipht
p' .. Submer~ed density
p .. Forre


(a) MKS to SI Units

F~ To Multiply by Equivalence
kgf N 9.81 1 kgf .. 9.81 N
gmf N 9.81)( 10-3 lsmf .. O.00981N
kN 9.81 11 .. 9.81 kN
k~flcm2 kN/m2 98.1 1 kgf/cm2 .. 98.1 kN / m2
2 N/mm2 9.81 x 10- 2 1 kgf/cm2 .. 0.0981 N/mrn2
gmflcm 2 N/m2 98.1 1 gmflcm2 .. 98.1 N/m2
kN/m 2 9.81 I I/m2 .. 9.81 kN/ml
kgfiln 3 tN/m) 9.81 x 10- 3 1 legUm) .. 0.00981 kN/ mJ
Vm' kNlm' 9 ... , Illm J .. 9.8L kN/ml
gl""Jtcm) kN/m) 9.81 1 gm£lcml .. 9.1:U kN/mJ
kgflrn Nl m 9.81 I k,grlm .. 9.81 N/ m
kg£.m N·m 9.81 1 kgf-m ... 9.81 N-m
kgf_seclm2 N_s/m2 9.81 1 kgC_sec/m 2 .. 9.81 N-s/m2

(b) Sl to MKS Units

From To Multiply Equivalellcl:

N kgf 0.102 IN -O.101kgf
N grnf 102.0 IN _102gmf
kN too"' 0 .102 lIeN .. 0.102/
kN/m2 kgfJan2 O.l02x 10- 1 1 kN/m2 .. 0.0102 legf/cm 2
N/mm2 2 10.2 1 Nk,vnl .. 10.2 kgf/an1
NIm' gmf/an
0.102 Ie 10-1 1 N/ml .. 0.0102 gmf/cm2
kN/m vm' 0.102 1 kN/m 2 .. O.102Vm 2
kN/ml kgf/ml 0.102)( tal 1 kN/mJ .. 102.0 kgf/m3
kN/inl vm' 0.102 1 kN/m3 _ 0.10211m3
kN/ml grnf/m' 0.102 lkN/m3 _ O.102grnf/an3
N/m kgf/m 0.102 1 N/m - 0.102 kgflm
N·m kgf-m 0.102 1 N-m - 0.102 kgf-m
N-s/m2. ktJ«I;/m2. 0.102 1 N--s/m2. _ 0.102 kgr~m2.

Note: 1 poise '" 0.1 N-tlm2. _ l.02 x 1O-~ kgf-seclm2

1 bar .. 100 ItN/m

Chapter' Page No.
1. Introduction 3 -12
1.1. Definition of soil, 1; 1.2. Definition of soil mechanics, 2; 1.3. Definition of Soil Engineering ond
Geotechnical Engioecring, 1; 104. Scope of soil Engineering, 2; 1.5. Origin of Soils, 4; 1.6. Fonnution of
Soils, 5; 1.7. Transportation of Soils, 6; 1.8. Major Soil Deposits of India, 7; 1.9. Comparison of Soils with
a:her materials, 8; 1.10. Umltation.s of Soil Engineering 8; 1.11. Thrminology ofdiffeR:n1 types of soils, 9;
1.12. Cohesive and CohesionJess Soils, IU; 1.1:\. Brief History of Soil Engineering, li; Problems, 11.
2. Basic DerrniUons and Simple Tests 13 - 44
21. Introduction, 13; 2.2 Volurnetrjc Relationships. 14; 2.3 WIlter content, 15; 204. Units, 1; 2.5 Volume
Mass Relationship, 16; 26. VoluriJe..Weight Relationships, 17, 2.7.lnter-relalion between Mass and Weight
Units, 18; 2.8. Specific Gravity of Solids, 19; 2.9. Three-Phase Diagram inn Terms of Void ratio, 10; 210.
Three-Phase Oiagrom in Terms of Porosify, 22; 211. Expressions for Mass Density in Terms of WJter
Cantant, 23; 2.12. Expression fa- mass density in tenns of water rontent, 24; 2.13. Relationship between
Dry Mass Density and Percentage Air \bids, 25; 2.14. Water Content Determination, 26; 2.15. Specific
Gravity Determinatlon, JO; 2.16. Measurement of Mass Density, 32; 2.11. ~ennination of Void Ratio,
Porosity and Degree of Saturation, 36; illustrative Examples, 37; Problems, 42.
3. Particle Size Analysis 4S - 68
3.1. Introduction, 45; 3.2 Mechanical Analysis. 46; 33. Sieve Analysis, 46; 3.4. Stokes' Ulw, 47; 3.5.
Preparation of suspeMion for sedimentation analysis, 49; 3.6. Theory of Sedimentation, 50; 3.7. Pipette
Method, 51; 3.8. Hydrometer Method, 52; 3.9. Relationship Between Percentage Fiocr and Hydrometer
Reading, SS; 3.10. Limitation of Sedimentation Analysis, 57; 3.11. Combined Sieve and ScdimentllIion
Analysis, 57; 3.12 Panicle Size Distribution Curve, 57; 3.13. Uses of Particle Size Distribution Curve, 59:
3.14. Shape of Partideo>, 59; 3.15. Relative Density, 60; 3.16. Determination of Relative Density, 61;
lIIustrative Examples. 62; Problems, 66.
4. Plasticity Cbaracterlstlcs of Solis 69 - K8
4.1. Plaslicity of Soils, 69; 4.2. Consistency limits, 69; 43. Uquid Limit, 70; 4..4. Cone Pcoclromctcr
Method, 73; 4.5. Plastic Limit, 73; 4.6. Shrinkage limit, 74; 4.7. Alternative Method for determination of
shrintage limit, 75; 4.8. Shrinkage Parameters, 76; 4.9. Plasticity, Uquidity and Consistency Indexes, 78:
4.10. Flow Index, 78; 4.11. Toughness Index, 79: 4.12 Mea<>urement of Consistency, 80; 4.13. Sensitivit)
80; 4.14. Thixotropy, 81; 4.15. Activity of Soils, 81; 4.16. Uses or consistency Limits, 82; Illustrative
Examples,83; Problems, 87.
5. SoD Classification 89 -106
S.1. Introduction, 89: 5.2. Pllrtide Size Oassification, 89; 5.3. Thxtural Oassification, 91; SA. AASlrfO
OassHication System, 92; 5.5. Unified soil Oassifiallion System, 72; 5.6. Compari:-;on of AASlim and
USC systems, 95: 5_7. Indian Standar.d Oassifiemion System, 98; 5.8. Boundary O[l$ificrltion, 99; 5.9.
Field Identification of Soils, 101; 5.10. General ClJarnderiSlics of Soils or Different Groups. 103;
lII~trBtive Examples, 103; Problems, 105.

6. Clay Mineralogy and SOU StructUR 107 -119

6.1. Introduction, 107; 6.2. Gravitational and Surface (oroes, 107; 6.3. Primary %lcnce Bonds, 108; 6.4.
Hydrogen Bond, 109; 6.5. Seo::todary \1aImoe Bonds, uo; 6.6. BasIc Structural Units of Oay Minerals,

111; 6.7. lsomot:phous Substitution, 112; 6.8. Kaolinite Mineral , 112; 6.9. Mo ntmorillonite Mineral , 112;
6.10. Illite Mineral, 113; 6.11. Electrical charges on clay minerals, 113; 6.12.11ase E;(change Capm.i ty, 114;
6.13. Diffuse Double Layer, 114; 6 14. Adsorbed Wl11 er, 116; 6.15. Soil Structurcs.1l6, ProbJem~ , 118.

7. Capillary Water 120 - 133

7.1. Types of Soil Water, 120; 7.2. Surface Tension, 120; 7.3. Capillary Rise in Small DiameterTubcs, 121 ;
7.4. Capillary Thnsion, 122; 7.5. Capill3fY Rise in Sroils, 123; 7.6. Soil Suctio n, '12S; 7.7. Capillary
Potential, 125: 7.8. Capillary Thnsion During Drying,.(l(.SoiIs, 126; 7.9. Factors Affecting Soil Suction,
126; 7.10. Measurement of Soil Suction, 127; 7.11:'~~t H.c~e, 128; 7: 12. Fra;t Doil , 129; 7.13.

~~::~~~~~! ~~~~~~~'; ~~~;. 7~~jl~:~n~p~::~ndi~~~~~:rn~~~\:!~:r~~~'ri~~k~~~~!~~r3i~;

8. Penneabllily ~r Soil 134-162
8.1. Introduction, 134; 8.2. Hydroulic Hcad, 134; 8 .3. Darcy's Law, 135; 8.4. Validi ty of Darcy's Low, 136;
8.5. Determination of Coeffi cient of Permeabili ty, 136; 8.6. ConSlant Head Penncabilily Test, 137; 8.7.
Variable·Head Permeability Test, 138; 8.8. Seepage Velocity, 140; '8.9. General Expression for Laminar
Flow, 141; 8.10. Laminar Flow through Porous Media, 142: 8.11. Factors affccting Permeability of Soils,
143; 8.12. Coefficient of Absolute Permeability, 145; 8.13. Pumping Out Tests, 146; 8.14. Pumping in
Thsts, 148; 8.15. Coefficient ofpcrmeability by Indirect Methods, 151; 8.16. Caei.llarity- Permeability Test,
152; 8.17. Permeability of Stratifi ed Soil Deposits, 154; l11ustralive Examples, 156; Problems, 160.

9. Seepage Analysis 163 - J 88

9.1. Introduction, 183: 9.2. l:lplooe's equation 164; 93. Stream and Potential Functions, 165; 9.4.
Owacteristics of Row Net, 167; 9.5. Graphical Method, 168; 9.6. Electrical Analogy Methcxl, 168; 9.7.
Soil Models, 171; 9.8. Plastic Models, 172; 9.9. Flow Net by Solution of Laplocc's Equation, 172; 9.10
flow Net in Eanh Dams with tI lIorizonml Filler, 173; 9.11. Seepage through Eanh Dam with Sloping
Discharge face, 175; 9.12. Seepage through Eanh Dam with Discharge angle less than 30\ 176: 9.13.
Seepage through Eanh Dam with Discharge angle greater than 30°, 177; 9.14. Uses of Flow Net, '178;
9.15. flow Net for Anisolropic Soils, 180: 9.16. Coefficient of Penncability:in an Inclined Direaion, 182;
9.17. flow Net in a Non-homogellOOus Soil Mass, 182; Ill ustra tive Examples. 184; Problems. 185.

10. Effective Stress Principle 189-217

10.1. Introduction, 189; 10.2. Erfective Stress Principle, 189; 10.3. Nature of Effective Slrcs.~ 190; 10.4.
Effect of water Table fluctuations on Effcctive Stress, 192; 10.5. Effective Stress in a Soil Ma.,,-" under
Hydrostatic Conditions, 193; 10.6. Increase in effective Stresses due 10 surcharge, 195; 10.7. Effective
Stresses in Soils saturated by Capillary Action, 195; 10.S. Seepage Pressure, 197; 10.9. Force Equilibrium
in Seepage Problems, 198; 10.10. Effective Stresses under Steady Seepage Conditions, 200; 10.11. Quick
Sand Condition 201; 10.12. Seepage Pressure Approach for Quick Qlndition, 203; to.13. [creel of
Surdlarge on Quick Conditions, 203; 10.14. Failures of Hydrnulic Suucturcs by Piping, 204; 10.15.
Prevention of Piping Failures, 206; 10.16. Design ofGroded Filter, 207; 10.17. Effective Stress in Panially
Saturaled Soils, 209; Illustrative Examples, 210; Problems, US.

11. Slresses Due 10 Applied Loads 218 - 255

11.1 InlrOOudion, 218; 11.2. Suess·Slroi n Paramelers, 218; 11.3. Geostatic Stresses, 219; 11.4. Venical
Stresses Due to Concentrated Loads, 221; 11.S. Horizontal and Shear Snesses Due to Concentrated Loads,
IZ3; 11 .6. Isobar Diagram, 225; 11.7. Vertical StftSS Distribution on 3 Horizontal Plane, 225; 11 .8.
lnfluence Diagram, 226; 11.9. Venical Stress Distribution on a Venical Plane, 227; 11.10. Vertical Stresses
Due lo a Une Lond, 227; 11.11 . Venic:al Stresses Under a Strip Load, 229; 11 .12. Maximum Shenr Strcsses
at a Point Under a Strip Load, 232; 11 .13. Venical Stresses Under a Circular Area, 233; 11 .14 . Vcr1ical
Stress Under Comer of a Rectangulor Area, 234; 11.15. Venical Stress al any Poin t Under a Rectllngulur
Area, 236; 11 .16. Newmark's InfluenceChurts, 237: 11.17. Comparison ofStrc.o;scs Due 10 l..ood<i on areas
of ~fferent Shapes. 239; 11 .18. Vertical ~ Under THangular Load, 240; 11 .19. Ver1ical Stress Under
Trapezoidal Loads, 241; 11.20. Stresses Due to Horizontal Loads, 242~ n .21. Stresses Doc to Inclinu.l
Loads, 242; 11.22. Westergaacd's Sol ution, 243; 11.23. Fenskc:s awls, 244; 11.24. Approxim:llc
M\WxxIs, 245; 11.25. Cootact Pressure Distribution, 147; 11.26. Limitations or Elastic Theories. 248;
D1ustt8tlve Examples, 249; Prcblems., 253.

12. Consolidation of Soils 256- 305

12.1. Introduction, 256: 12.2. IrIIllal. Primary and Secondary Consolidation. 257; 12.3. Spring Analogy for
Pnmary ConsulktLtlon. 257: 12.4. Behnviour of Satumtec.l Soils Under Press ure. 258: 12.5. Consolidntion
'res!. 259: 12.6. Dctenlllll:Ltmn u! VOid Rmio at Various Load Increments. 261: 12.7. COl1solid:uion Test
Result~. 263: 12.!). Ba."lc Dottinitions. 265: 12.9. Terzaghi's Theory of Consolidation. 267: 12. 10. Solution
0 1 fllL~ I C DlffcrelltlHl Equatllm. 271 : 12.1 1. Determination of Coefficient of Consolidation. 277: 12. 12.
Preconsolidatlon Pressure. 280: 12. 13. Causes of Preconsoliti:llion in Soil s.l8 1: 12. 14. Finol Settlement of
;1 Soil DepoSli in the Fn:ld. 28 1: 12.15. Time Sell[emcnt Curve. 283: [2.16. Field Consolidation Curve.
2X4: 12.17. Secondary Co nsnliu.llion. 2115: 12.18. 3-D Consolidation Equation in Cartesinn Coordinates.
287: 12.IY. 3-D Consolidation Equation in Cylindrical Co-ordi nates. 289: 12.20. Sand Dmin~. 291: 12.21.
Effect or L:ller.ll Stmin ml C()nsohdlltion. 294: IIlustrmivc Exn!llpl~, 295; Problems. 302.

13. Shear Strength 306-356

1]. 1. Im roduClitin. 30h: 13.2. StrC-'is Sy~tcm with Prindp.11 Planl!s P:lr.lllel to the Coordinate Axcs, 306:
13.3. Mohr's Circle. 3d7: Il4. Pri nc ipal planes mclinl!d to the coordinate axis. 308; 13.5. Stress system
with Vertical and Horimntu! Plnnl!s not Principal Plnnc.~. 309: 13.6. Import::lIlt Characteristics of Mohr's
Circle. 311 : 11.7. Muhr·Cou lomb TIleory. 3 12: 13.8. Revised Muhr· Coulomb equation. 313: 13.9.
Different Typc~ of tc~ t s nnd Dminnge Condi(ion~. 3 13; 13. 10. Mode o f Application of SheH Force 314:
13 .11. Direct Shear Test. 314: 13. 12. Presentation ()t" Results or D I ~cCI ShearT..::s(' 316: 13. 13. Merits alld
Demerits of DirCl.:"t SheOlr Tc~t. 3 1H: 13. [4. Triaxml Compression Applirmus, 318: [3. 15. Trillx ia! Tests on
Cohc!<.i\lc Soils. 321; IJ.16. Triaxia l 'reSiS on Cohesiunlc:ss Sui Is. 322: 13.17. Merits ::md Demerits of
Tri.lxinl Tcs!. -'2-': [J. [1I . Cmnput;l1 ion o f various Pnmmeters. 324: 13.19. Presentatio n of Results of
Triaxial Te~ts. 325 I J.20. Elfcct ofCunsolidation Pre.~~urc o n Undraim.'d Strength 328: 13.2\. Relationship
Betwecn Unur.lincd Shear Strength and Effective O\lerburden Pressure. 329:: 13.22. Unconfined
Compression Te:.t. 330: 13.2-'. Vanl! Shear Test, 332: 13.24. Pore Pressure Parameters. 333: 13.25.
Mohr·Coolo mb Fai lure Cntl!nun. 337: 13.26. Mo(lillt.:d F.u[ure en\lelope. 338: 13.27. Stress Path. 339:
13.28. Shear Slro;:ngth o f Partially Satur.Jte(/ Soils, 341; 13.29. H\lo rslev's Strength TIleory. 342: 13.30.
Liquet":lo;,:tion of S:mds. 343: 13.3 1. Shear Characteristics of Co hesionles.' Soils. 144: [3.32. Shear
Charncteristics of Cohesive Sui Is. 345: U.3J. Ch"ire of Test Conditiuns and Shear Pamlllcters. 347 •
Ill ustrative EX;lll\ple~. 347: Problelll~. 353.

14. Compaction of Soils 357 -375

14. 1. Introduction. 357: 14.2. S1andani Proc1or Te~t. 358: 14.3. Modified Procto r Tesi. 360: 14.4.
Compaction of Sands. 361 : 14.5. Jodhpu r Mini CompaclllfTc~l. 362; 14 .6. Harvard Mini;Jture Compaction
Tc.~t. 362: 14.7. Ahbot Cump;u:llon TC~I. 362: 14.S. Fal1or~ Affccting Compaction. 362; 14.9. EITel'! of
CompaCIIOI1 on PrOJ>CrllO;:~ of Soih. 364: 14.10. Methods of C(Illlpaction Used in Field. 366: 14. 11.
PI'lcement Water Content. 367: 14. 12. Relative COmp;Jl1ion. 368: 14. 13. Compaction Control. 368; 14. 14.
.. ,broll m;n il)n Method. 36?: 14. 15. Te ml Probe Method, 370: [4. 16. Compaction by Pounding. 370: 14.17.
Cnmpa':1I011 by Explosl\·e.,. 37 1: 14.1B. Prccomprcssion. 37 1: 14.19. Compaction Piles, 371 : 14.20.
Suitability of Various i\.1t:thod~ uf Compaction. 371: lllustrati ve Exa mples. 372; Problems. 374.

15. Soil Stab ilisation 376 - 390

15. 1. Introduction. 37(, : 15 .2. Medwnical St;lbi!isntion. 376; 15.:1. Cement Stabi lisation. 377: [5.4 Lime
Stabilisation. 3811: 15.5. Bituminous $t;lhilisalion. 31B ; 15.6. Chemical Stabilisatiun. 3H2: 15.7. TIlcrm;1
Stabili~ation. 383: 15.8. Electrical St;lbilisation. 384: 15.9. Stabilisation by grouting. 384: 15. 10
Stabilis;Jtion by C<.'utuxtilc :lnu Fnbrics. 3115: 15.1 1. Reinforced Eolrth. 3M7: Prob lem~. 3S?

16. Drainage, DC·w:ltcri ng and Wclls 391 - 414

16.1. Int roductiun. 391 : 16.2. Interceptor Ditches. 39 1; 16.3. Single Stage Well Points. 392: 16.4.
Mult"i.$I:J£c Well POIOIS, 393: 16.5. Vacuum Well Points. 393; 16.6. Shallow Well System. 394: 16.7. Deep
Well System. 394: 16.8. Hori zontal Wd ls. 394: 16.9. Electl1}-Osmosis. 39-1: 16. 10. Permanent Drainage
After Con~tnlctil)n. 395: 16.1 1. Design of Dewatering Sy.~ tcm s. 396: 16. 12. Discharge from :I Fully
Penetrating Slu\. 396: 16.1]. Di sc harge from a Partially Penctr.lling Slot, 399: 16. 14. Discharge in a Slot
from Bolh sides. 400 : 16. 15. Well Hydraulics. 4() 1: 16.[6. Tem1.~ Uscd in We ll Hydraulics, 402; 16.17.
Discharge From a Fully P..::netnull1g WeI [. 403: [6. 18. Disc harge From a Paniall y Pc netrnting Well, 404:
16. 19. IllIerf..::rcnce among Wells, 4115: 16.20. Spherical Flow in a We ll. 407: 16.2 1. Discharge Froman
Open Well. 407; 16.22. Advt':rse Eff..:cts of Dramage. 44.19; Ill ustrative Examples. 4O!J; Problems, 412.


17. Site Investigations 415 - 439
17.1. Introduction, 415; 17.2. Planning a Sub-Surface Explor.lIion )rogrnmmes, 416; 17.3. Slagcs in
Sub-surface Explorations, 416; 17.4. Reconnaissance, 417; 175. Depth of Exploration, 417; 17.6. Lnternl
Exlent of E"plorlLlion, 419; 17.7. Open Excavation Methods of Explomtion, 420; 17.8. Borings for
Exploration, 420j 17.9. Auger Doring, 420; 17.10. Wnsh Boring, 420; 17.11. Rotary Drilling, 422; 17.12.
Percussion Drilling, 42Z; 17.13. Core Drilling. 422; 17.14. Types of Soil Samples, 423; 17.15. Design
Fealuws AfJa:ting the Sample Disturbance, 423; 17.16. Split- Spoon Samplers, 424; 17.17.
Sa"aper-Buckel Sampler, 425; 17.18. Shelby Tubes and Thin Walled Samplers, 425; 17.19. PiSlon
Samplers, 426; 17.20. Denison Sampler, 426; 17.21. lIand-Carvcd Samples, 426; 17.22. Slandard
Pcnclmtion Test, 427; 17.2.1. Cone Pcnclrarion T~SlS, 429; 17.24. Tn-sHu Vane Shear Test, 431; 17.25 .
In-situ Tcst Using a Pressure Mctcr, 431; 17.26. Observation of Ground W:Jtcr 111ble 432; 11.27.
Geophysical Mcthods, 433; 17.28. Sdsmic Mcthods, 433; 17.29. Elcctrical Resistivity Methods, 435;
17.30. Sub-Soillnvcstigmion RcporlS, 437; Problems, 438.
18.. Stability or Slopes 440-477
18.1. Introduction, 440; 18.2. l3asis of Analysis, 441; 18.3. Different Factors of S3fety, 441; 18.4. Types of
Slope. Failures, 442; 18.5. Stability oron Infinite Slope of Cohesionlcss Soils, 444; 18.6. Stability An.:lIysis
of nn Infinite Slope of Cohesive Soils, 446; 18.7. W(:dgc Failure, 447; 18.8. Culmann's Method, 448; 18.9.
'" .. 0 Analysis, 450; 18.10. FriCtion Circle Method, 4s(); 18.1 L SI.1bility Chans, 453; 18.12. Swedish
Cirde Method, 455: 18.13. Stability of Slope Under Steady Seepage Condition, 460; 18.14. Stability of
Slope Under Sudden During ConstM., ion, 461; 18.15. Stability of Slopes During Construction, 462;
18.16. Bishop's Simplified Method, 46..1; 18.17. Other Mcthods of Analysis, 466; 18.18. Improving
Stability of Slopes, 467; IIlUSlrutive Examples, 467: Problems, 475
19. Earth Pressure Theories 478 - 516
19.1. Introduction, 478; 19.2. Diffcrcnltypcs of uterol Earth Pressure, 478; 193. Earth Pressure at Rest.
480: 19.4. Rankine's Earth Pressure Theory, 481: 19.5. Runkine's Earth Pressure when the Surf:Jce is
Inclined, 485; 19.6. Itnnkinc's Earth Pressure in Cohesive Soils, 491; 19.7. Coulomb's Wedgc Thcory, 494:
19.8. Coulomb's Active Pressure in Cohcsionless Soils, 494: 19.9. Rehbann's Construction for Active
Pn.'SSurc, 497; 19.10. Culmnnn's ConstruClion for Active Pressure, SOl; 19.11. Coulomb's Active Earth
!'ressure for Cohesive Soils, S02; 19.12. Trial Wedge Methoo, 503; 19.13. Coulomb's Passive Earth
Pressure for Cohesionlcss Soil, S()4; 19.14. Passive Pressure By Ihe Friclion Circle Method, 50S; 19.15.
Determination of ShCllr Strength Parameters, 507; Illustrative Examples, 508; Problems, 515.
20. Design of Ret:lining Walls and Bulkheads 517 - 549
W .1. InlrOOUClion, 517: 20.2. l)'pcs of Retaining Walls, 517; 20.3. Pri~iples of the Design of retaining
Walls, 517; 20.4 . Gravity Rctaining Walls, 520; 20.5. Cantilevcr Rctaining walls, 52J ; 20.6. Counterfo rt
Retaining Walls, 523; ZO.7. Other Modes of Failure of Retaining Walls, 524; 20.8. Drainage from the
Backfill, 525; 20.9. 'Iypcs ofshcel pile Walls, 526; 20.10. Free Cantilever shcct pile, 527; 20.11 . Cantilever
Sheet Pile in Cohesionlcss Soils, 528; 20.12. Cantil~..... cr Sheet Pile Penetrating Clay, 530; 20.13. Anchored
Sheet Pile with Free Earth support, 532; 20.14. Rowe's Moment Reduction Curves, 53-1; W.15 . Anchored
Shcct Pile with fixed Eartb Support, 535; 20. 16. Design of AnchOl'S, 536; lIIustrntive exa.mples, 53Sj
Problcm,s 547.
21. Braced Cuts and Coffer Dams 550 - 569
21.1 . Introduction, 5S(); 21 .2. Lateral Earth Pressure on Shccting.<:. 551 . 213. Different 'I'ypes of Sheeting
and Bracing Systems, 553; 21.4. OcsiJ!n of Various Components of nracing, 554; 21.5. Types of Coffer
Dams, 556; 21.6. Design of Ccllulm- Coffer dams on Rock, 559; 21.7. Design of Cellular Coffer dams on
Soil, 562; II1US1ldtive Example, 564; Problems, 568.
22: Shal'ts, Tunnels and Underground Condlli~ 570 - 586
22.1. Stresses in Soil in the Vicinity of Vertical Shaft, 570; 22.2 Stresses in Soil around Tunnels, 57.1; 22.3.
Construction of Ellnh Tunnels, 572: 22.4. Arching in Soils, 573; 22.5. Types of Unde!grOlmd Conduits,

575; 22.6, Ditch conduits. 575; 22.7. Positive Projecting Conduil~. 577; 22.8. Negative Projecting
Conduits, 580: 22.9. Im perfect Ditch Condui!. 582; 22. 10. Tunndcd Conduits. 51:12: 22.11. Loads on
Conduits Due 10 Surface Loads, 583: 22.1 2. COnSlmCI10n of Conduits. 583; Illustrative ElIamp1cs. 584:
Problems. 585.

23. Bearing Capacity of Shallow Foundations 587 -635

23.1. Introducti on. 5~7: 23.2. Basic Definitions, 581: 23.3. GI1IS~ and Net fooling Pressure. SKS: 23.4.
Rankine's Anllly!>is. 5~1: 23.5. HO!!Clllog1cl' and l c r/.!i£hi's An3lysis, 591; 23.6. Prandt]'s Anal ys is. 592:
23.7. li: rzag hi's bearing Capacity 1110(1)'. 593: 23.8. Types of ShCltr Fail ures. 596: 23.9 . Ultimate BC3ring
,- , CapllclIY in casc of Local Shear Failure. 597: 23.10. Effect of Wmcr lanle on Beanng Cllp,n:i ty. 600: 23. 11 .
Beming CIIJlllcity of Square and Circulnr Footings, 601 : 23. 12. Mcyemof's BCllring Cap:u:ity Theory. 602:
23. 13. Hansen 's Bcaring ClIpacilY 1l100ry, 60.1: 23.14. VClIic's Be:ui ng Capacity Theory, 605: 23.15. IS
Code Method 606: 23.1(1. Skcmpton 's Analysis for CoheSive Suils, 607; 23.17. IS Code Method for
.-. Cohcloive Soil. 608: 23. 18. Heave of the Buttom of the Cut in Clay. 60N: 23. 19. Foundations on Layered
C lny. 6111: 23.20. Bt,tring Capa,,;ity fru m Standard Penetration lest. 6H1: 23.21. El:centne:tll y Loaded
r,()und:u io ns. 611 : 23.22. SeU lemcnt of FoumJations. 612: 23.23. Loads for Sett lement An:llysis. 613:
23.24. Immediat e Scll!cmcllt ofCohc$iw Soils. 613; 23.25. Immedi:lIC SeUlemeot ofCohesionlcss Soils.
614; 23.26. Consolid.Ltion SClllcmcnt in ClllYS. 6 15: 2.l27. Sel1lement of foundations on CoheslOn lcss
Soils, 616: 23.28. Accuracy of foundation Settlement Prl.-diction. 617: 23.29. Artuwablc ScUlcmenl. 617;
23.30. Allowable Soil Pressure for Cohcloionlcss Soils. 618: 23.31. Allowahle Soil Prcs~ ure ror Cohesive
Soils. 621 : 23.32. Presu mptive Bcaring C:1P:1Clly. 621: 23.33 . Plate LO:ld Test. 621; 23.34. Housel's
Method for destgn o f Foundation. 625; lIIusmtuve Ex:unplcs. 625 : Problems. 625.

24. Design of Shallow Foundations 636 - 670

24.1. Types of SlmllolV fou ndations. 636: 24.2. Depth u f Footings. 637; 24.3. Foundation Loading, 639;
24.4. Principle of Design of Footings. 640: 24.5. Proport ioning FOO1ings for E<jUlll Settlement. 641 : 24.6.
Dc.~ign of Strip Footings. 64 1: 24.7. Design uf Sprclul Fooling.~. 643: 24.8. Design of Eccentrically loaded

spread fOOling.~. 644: 24.9. Combined Footings. 645: 24. 10. Rcctangular Combined Footings. 645 24.11.
Trapezoidal Foot ing 647: 24. 12. Strap Footings. 648: 24. 13. Principles (If Dc~ign of Mat Found:uions. 649:
24.14. Common Typt.o:- of Mat Foundmion. 651: 24.15. Design M cthod~ for M~t Foundmion. 653: 24.16.
Convention:!1 Design of R:lft Found:ltions. 653: 24. 17. Destgn of combinl.'(l footing by Elru;tic Line
MC'lhod. 655: 24. 18. finlle Diflercncc Method for combined Footing.~. 656; 24. 19. Elastic Plate Method.
657: 24.20. Finlll.: Din·crcn.:c Method fur Mats. 65N: 24.21. Cocffkient {If Subgrn<k: Rc;Lction. 659:
Illustra tive Example~. 660; Problems. 669.

25, Pile Foundations 671-705

25. 1. Introduction. 671 ; 25.2. Necessity uf Pile ruuIl(Jntiun. 671 ; 25.3. Cla~silication of Piles. 672; 25.4.
Pile Driving, 674: 25.5. Conmllction o f Bored Piles, 675: 25.6. Driven Cast-in-situ Concrete Piles. 676
25.7. Lo,ld CarrYlllg Ca pacity of Piles. 677; 25 .!:\. Stallc Methods for Driven Piles in Sand. 677: 25.9.

Static Method f()r Driven Piles in SllIUr.'lIt:d Clay. 681 : 25.10. Stalic Method tor Bored Piles. 683; 25. 11.
Factor of Safet y. 684: 25.12. Negative Skin Friction. 684 25. 13. Dynamic Fommillc, 685; 25. 14. Wave
Equation A naJ Y~t~. 61:17: 25. 15. In-loitu penetr.'llion tests for Pile capllcity, 688: 25. 16. Pile Load Tcst. 688:
25.17. Other tYJ>cs uf Pile Luad IcSt. 690: 25. 18. Gmup Aclion of Piles. 690 25.19. Pile Groups in Sand
aod gr.'lve1. 691 : 25.20. Pile G roups in day. 692: 25.21 . Seulcment of Pile Groups. 692: 25.22 Sharing of
Loads in It Pil e Group. 694 25.23. Tcn~ioll PiJc ~. 694; 25.24. Laterally Lunded Piles . 696; lIIustrativc
Examples. 697; Problems. 70....

26. Drilled Piers and CaL..sons 706 -721

26.1. Introduction. 7('11',: 26.2. Drilled Piers. 706: 26.3 . Construction of Drilled Piers 708; 26.4. Advnlll~ge.~
and Dis.1dvllntngcs of Drilled Piers. 709: 26.5. Dcsigll o f opcn Cllbson~. 710; 26.6. Construction of open
caissons. 713: 26.7. Pneumali,,; Caissons. 714: 26.8 . Con ~ lru cli() n of PneLimatic Caissons. 715: 26.9.
Advllnt<lges lind DiS:tdv:UltagCS of Pneummic Caiswns. 715: 26.10. Floatmg Caissons. 716: 26.1 1.
Stability of Floating Caissons. 716; 26. 12. Adv!1ntages olld Disadv~ntage.~ o f Floating C:lissons, 717;
lIlusmllive Examples. 717: Problems. no.

27. Well Foundations 722-754

27. 1. Introduction, 722; 27.2. Dil"ferent Shapc.\ IlfWells. 72.3 : 27J. Gri p Length. 723: 27.4. Forces ACling

00 the Well Fououmion. 724: 27.5. Tel7.aghi's Analysis, 725: 27.6. B;mcrjee and Gangopadhyay's
r\nalysis. 728: 27.7. Si lllplilicu Antlly~is lor Heavy Welts, 733: 27.8. IRe method, 734: 27.9. Individual
Components of the welt. 739: 27,10. Sinking of Wells, 742: 27.1 I. Mca~urc,~ for Rectification o f Tilts nnd
Shins, 744: IJl U.,tr,lIl\·C Examplc!>. 746: Pmbkms. 754.
28. Machine Foundations
28. 1. Introduction. 755: 28.2. 'TYpes of Machine Foundations. 755: 28.3. Bllsic Definitions. 756; 2~.4.
Degrcc of Frc ...'<iOIll ofa Block Foun<mtlo n. 757: 28.5. Gcncrnl COlen a for design of M,lchi ne fou ndations.
758; 2X.6. Free Vibr,ltlon 759; 28.7. Forced Vibmtion. 76 1: 2K8. Vibmllon An:llysis of a Machine
Foundmion. 763: 28.9. IXlermination of Natuml Frequency, 765: 29. 10. DeSIgn Crifen a for Foundiltions
of Reclprocming M<lchine!>. 766: 2S. 11 . Reinforcement and Con~truction Dcrails. 767: 28. 12. Weight of
Found:lt iun. 767: 2tU3. Vibration IsolatlU n and Control. 767; l1lustrJtive EX:llllples. 76H ; Problems. 771.
29. Pavement Design
773 -787
29.1 Typc~ of PavemcnT~. 773; 21).2. Bask Requirements of P:lvemCnls . 175: 29.3. Functions of Different
Components of a Pave ment. 774: 29.4. Fm:tors Affecting Pnvement Design, 775: 29.5. California Bcaring
Rutio T~'st. 775: 29.6. Design of Flexihle Pavcmcnts. 777; 2<;.7. GroUI' Index Mcthod. 777 29.8. CBR
MCIJlOd. 17M: 2Y.'J. Culifornla Resiswnce Value Method 778; 29. 10. MeLeod Mo.: thod. 779: 29. I I. Triaxial
T..::st Method. 7HO: 21). 12. Blirmister's Metbud. 780: 29. 13. Coefficient oj 'iubgrade Reaction, 781 : 29. 14.
Westergaard's Analysis . 782: 29. 15. Temperature ~trcsscs in Rigid Pn"emcnh. 784: 29.16. Combined
Stressc.~ In Rigid P:lVclllellts. 785: ltIuSlrative EX;lmplcs. 785: Problems. 786:
30. Laboratory Experiments
788 - 816
30.1. To determine Ihe watcr cOlltelil of a sample hy ovendrying met hod. 788: ~O.2. To determine tb e water
content of a soil hy pyonomcter method. 789: 30.3. To determ ine the !>pt.'Cilic gravity of M)lids by the
dcnslIY holl!c l11elhO<l. 7M9: 30.4. To determloc t,le !>pccilic gravity of solids by pycnomcter method. 79J :
30.5. To determine th e dry den.~ity of the soil by core cutter method. 792: 30.6. To dt.'tcrmioe the in.situ dry
density by the sand repilicement method. 793; 30.7. To determ ine Ihe dry densi ty of ;1 soil by
water-(lisplacclllent method. 795: 3O.S. To determine the particle sil.e dlst ributi(1O of a soil by sieving, 796:
30.9. To dCh!nnmc the p:trt icle size distri but ion by the hydrometer m...1hOO. 797: 30.10. To determine the
hqmd Illllit of II ~()iJ !>pcclll1Cn. MOO; 30. 11 . To delennine the pla~tlc limit of a ~oil specimen. 801 ; 30.12.
To detemline the .\ Imnkngc limit of a spc!Clmen of the rernouldt:d soil, 802: 30. 13. To determine the
pcrm..-ahiJity of a !toil spt.'Clmcn by the constant· head pcnneamctcr. 804; 30.14. To determinc the
permeahi lity o f II ~()!I specimcn by th..: vanable head pcrmc:l1netcr. X05: 30. 15. To detemline the
conslJlkl;ltroll chal',l!;teri~tic~ of or soil spedmen. 807; 30. 16. To detcnnioe the shear parametcrs of a sandy
soi l by direct ~hcar le~t. X09: 30.17. To dO:lenmne th e unconlined eomprc.~sivc stren gth of a cohesive soi t.
811 : JO. It\. Tu dctcnnmc the compaction Ch;lr:tClcristjc of a soil specime n by Proctor's test. S12: 30. 19. To
detemlinc the Culi forrlra Bcnring Ratio (CBR) of a soil specimen. 813.
31. Introduction to Rock Mechanics
817 - 837
3 1. 1. Introduetkm, 8 17: 3 1.2. Geologic,ll Classification o/' Rocks, 1:117: 3 I .3. 9,lsic Tenninolagy. 818: 3 1.4.
Index Properties of Rocks. H19: 31.5. Uni t weight (ar ma~s density), 819: 31.6. Porosity. H20; 31.7.
Permeability, H20: 3 1.8. Point loud strength. 821: 31.9. Slaking and Durahility. H22: 3 UO. Sanic Velocity,
823; 4 1.1 I. Cli..~silicmian of Rock.~ for Engineering pmperties. 824: 31.12. Strength c1assifiention of Intac t
Rocks, K27: 3 1.13 . LH borlltary tests lilr determination of strength of Rocb, 1:128: 31.14. Stre.~s.strain
curve~. K29: 3 1.15. Modes of Failure of Rocks. 1'131; 31.16. Mohr-Coulomb Criterion lor Rocks. 832:
31.17. Shear Strength of Rocks. K33: 31. 18. H<rrdness of Rocks, M34: 31. J9. In.situ Slres.~e..~ in Rocks. 834:
31.20. Measurement of in-situ ~lrcsses.1:I36: Problems. 837.
\I iii)

32. Gt!ott!chnical Eurlhquakt! Enginct!l"ing 838 - 863

32.1. Introduction. 838: 32.2. H i~IOI)' of Earthq uakes in India. 838: J2 ..l Seisml\: Zonc~ of India. 840:
32.4. Magnitude of :111 Earthquake. 840: 32.5. Intensity of Earth(IUnkcs. 842: 32.6. EO·I."CI of Ground
motion on Smll:ture~. S44; 32.7. Gcnernl Principles of Earthquake-Resistant design. 1«46: 32.8. ~Ii
SeismiC coefficient. 848j 32.9. Dc~ign Seismic forces. 849j 32.10. Site.Spccific Respunse ~pcclrn :H50:
32 , J l. Hazards due to Earthquakes. 851; 32.12. Liquefaction Phenomenon. 852: 32.13. P:lctors t\1!1.'ClIn~
Liqucfnctlon. 854; 32. 14. A s~ss mc nt of Susceptihility ofn Soil 10 Liqucl",\ction. 854: n. ls. Preventio n nl
Liquefoction. S57: Illustrative EXHll1pJes. 858; Problems. 861: Selected References. 863

Appt!ndix A-GloSS~lrY of Common Terms 864 - 868

] Appendix B-Miscellaneous Objective-Type Questio ns

Publications of Bureau of Indian Standards
869 - 876
882- 883
Index 884- 886





The word 'soil' is derived from the btin wort! so/iI/ill whic.:h. according 10 Webster's dictionary. means
the upper layer of the earth thai may be dug or plowooj spccilically. the loose surface material of the earth
in which plants grow. lhe above definition of soil is used in the field of agronomy where the main concern
is in the use of soil for raising crops. In geology, eanh's crust is assumed to consist of unconsolidated
sediments, called mantle or regolith, overlying rocks. 111C (enn 'soil' is used for the upper layer of mantic
which can support plants. 'Ine matcrj~ll which is called soil by the agronomist or the geologist is known as
lOp soil in geotechnical engineering or soil enginccring. lhe top soil c.onwins a large quantity of organic
matter and is nOt suitable as a construCtiOn material or as a foundation for structures. The top soil is removal
from the earth's surface before the construction of structures.
Ollie (erm 'soil' in. soil engineering is defined as an unconsolidated material. romJXlSCd of solkl particles,
proouccd by the disintegrntion of rocks. The void space between the particles may contain air, water or both.
The solid particles may contain organic matter. The soil particles can be separated by such mechanical means
as agit..1tion in water.
A nalural aggregate of mineral particles bonded by strong and pennancnt cohesive forces is called 'rode'. It
is an indurated material that requires drilling, wedging or blasting for its removal from the earth's surface. Since
the Icons weak and strong have different interpretations, the boundary between soU and rock is rather arbitrary.
In case of a partially disintegrated rock, it is extremely difIicult to locate th~ boundary between soil and rock.
Fig. 1.1 shows a cros.c;.seCliorr through the canh's surface, indicating the nomenclature used in geology,

-r.J.S~f ,. Grp uqd sUrfgce.. Ground surfacrl

Manll e (regolith ) S oil

(a) Nomandalura in Grlology (b) Nomt.nclalure in Soil Engintaring
Fig. 1.1. Nomendature.

and in l Soil Engineering. It may be noted that the material which is called mantle (regolith) in geology is
known:as soil in Soil Engineering.
The tenn 'soil mechanics' was coined by Dr. Karl Terzaghi in 1925 when his book Erdballmecllanic on
the subjcct was published in Genn:m. According to Terz.:1ghi, 'Soil mechanics is the appliCltion of the laws
of mechanics and hydraulics to cnginccring problems dealing with sediments and other unconsolidated
accumulations of solid particles produced by the mechanical and chemical disintegration of rock, regmdlcss
of whether or not they contain an admixture of organic constituents'. Soil mechanics is, therefore, a branch
of mechanics which dC.1is with the action of forces on soil and with the flow of water in soil.
The soil consists of discrete solid pmtic1es which arc neither strongly bonded as in solids nor they nrc as free
as p::!rtic1cs of lluids. Consequently, the behaviour of soil is somewhat intermediate between tiM of a solid and
a nuid. It is not; therefore, surprising th:1I soil mechanics draws hctlvily from solid mechanics and fluid
mechanics. As the soil is inherently a IXlrIiculate system. soil mcch:mics is also caBcd paniell/me mechanics.
Rock mechanics is the science de:.lling with thc mechanics of rocks.
Soil engineering in :m appUed science dealing with the applic<ltions of principles of soil mechanics to
prtlctical problems. It has n much wider scope than soil mcchlmics, as it deals with all engineering
problems relmed with soils. It includes site in'Jcstigmions, design and construction or foundations,
earth-retaining struClurcs and c.:1rth structures.
Gcotechnical engineering is a broader term which includes soil engineering, rock mechanics and geOlogy.
This term is used synonymously with soil cngincering in this text.
Soil engineering has vast application in the construction of various civil engineering works. Some of the
important applications arc as undcr :


Ground level Ground Level

J/ .

5 0 i I.

~ooting Soit

So i I
(a) Shallow foundation

i\ra 51ratum
(b) Pile foundation
Fis. 1.2. DiITel'l:ntlypts ofrOLlI\li-llions.

(1) Foundations-Every civil engineering structure, whether it is a building. a bridge, or a dam, is

founded on or below the surface of the earth. Foundations are required to transmit the load of the structure
to soil safely and efficiently.
A foundation is termed shallow foundation when it transmits the load to upper strata of earth. A
foundation is called deep foundation when the load is transmitted to strata at considcl1lble depth below the
ground surface (Fig. 1.2). Pile foundation is a type of deep foundation. Foundation engineering is an
importana branch of soil engineering.
(2) Retaining Structures-When sufficient space is not availnble for a mass of soil to spread and form
a safe slope. a structure is required to rct"lin the soil. An earth retaining structure is also required to keep the

Dredge level
Soil pressure'

(a) R«.taining wall

(b) Shut pitt.
Fig. 1.3. Retaining structures.
soil at different levels on its either side. The retaining structure may be a rigid retaining wall or a sheet pile
bulkhead which is relatively flexible (Fig. 13). Soil engineering gives the theories of earth pressure 00
retaining structures.
(J) Stability of Slopes-If soil surface is not horizontal. there is a oomp:ment of weight of the soil which



Excavation slopq;

Fig. 1.4. Slopes in (Q) filling and (b) cutting.
tends to move it downward and thus causes instability of slope. The slopes may be natural or man-made Fig.
1.4 shows slopes in filling and culting. Soil engineering provides the methods for checking the stability of slopes.
(4) Underground Structures-The design and construction of underground structures, such as tunnels,
sbafts, and oonduits, require evaluation of forces exerted by the soil on these structures. These forces are
discussed in soil engineering. Fig. 1.5 shows a tunnel oonstructed below the ground surface and a oonduit laid
below the ground surfaCe. .

..' .~". ~
. --

·,-"' ,~~ -:;',"~e::z1t""'"'

(al lunn/l.l (b1 Conduit

hard crust placed on soil (subgrnde) Cor the . . ... _ . -.' - '.' , .', " - , ,' Sa

~E~~~n~:~~~: ,~~h:~~~:~~;:"~~:)~~: i:.:; .;~.:: L·.. i;

purpose of providing a smooth and strong ',', ', ... : _. ~ ':. :•. _. : . . _: '. -.' ..: se

: :.!:.,: ub base
~~~~:~~~~ ~~~ue~g:i~::~~I~ ~~~~;s ~ns~~~~: Subgrade (50i~)
in soil engineering. Fig. 1.6. Pavement del:tlls.
(6) Eurth Dam-Earth dams arc huge structures in which soil is used as a construction material (Fig.
1.7). The earth dams arc bu ill for cfc::lling water reservoirs. Since the failure of an earth dam may cause
widespread catastrophe, extreme care is taken in its design and construction. It requires a thorough knowledge
of soil enginccring.

Sh~ l\

(Pervious so il )

Fig. 1.7. Earth Dam.

(7) Miscellaneous Soil .P roblems-The geotechnical engineer has sometimes to tackle miscellaneous
problems related with soil, such as soil heave, soil subsidence, frost heave, shrinkage and swelling. of soils.
Soil engineering provides an in-depth study of such problems.
1.5. aruCIN OF SOILS
Soils arc formed by we.1lilering of rocks due to mechanical disintegration or chemical deoomIXlsition.
When a rock surface gets exposed to tllmOSphere for an appreciable time, it disintegrates or decomposes inlO
small particles and thus the soils are fanned.
Soil may be considered as an incidental material obtained from the geologic cycle which goes on
oontinuously in naturc. lhe geologic cyde consists of eros.ion, transportation, deposition and upheaval of soil
(Fig. 1.8). Exposed rocks are eroded :md dcgraded by various physical and chemical processes. TIle products
of era>ion are picked up _ _ __ _ __ _
by agencies of trans-
portation, such as water
and wind. and arc
carried to new locations ~rosion Tran~\a\ion
where they are
deposited. This shilling
Deposi ti on Uph~aval
of the material disturbs
Fig. 1.8. Gc~c Cydc.

the equilibrium of forces on the earth and causes large scale earth movemcnts and upheavals. 1l1is process
results in further CX(Xl')'Ure of rocks and Ihe geologic·cydc gelS repeated.
If the soil stays at the place of its formation just above the parent rock, it is kllOwn as residual soil or
sedentary soil. When the soil has been deposited at a place away from the place of its origin, it is called a
transported soil. The engineering properties of residual soils vmy considernbly from the top layer to the
bollom layer. Residua! soils Iwve a grndual trnnsition from relalively fine material near the surface to large
frJgments of stones al greater depth. 'nle properties of the bottom layer resemble that of the parent rock in
many respects. The thickness of the rcsidu::li soil fonnation is generally limited to a few metres.
The enginccring properties of transported soils arc entirely different from the properties of the rock at the
place of deposition. Deposits of transported soils are quite thick and are usually uniform. Moot of the soil
deposits with which a geotechnical engineer has to deal arc transported soils.
As mentioned above, soils are formed by either (A) physical disintcrgration or (0) chemical
decomposition of rocks.
A. IJhysicul Disintcgrntion-Physical disintegmtiOO or mech:mic.ll weathering of rocks occurs due to the
following physical proc'CSScs :
(1) Temperature changes-Different minerals of:J rock huve different coefficients of thennal cxprlOsion.
Unequal cXlxmsion and contraction of these minerllis occur due 10 temperature changes. When the slresses
induced due to such changes arc repe"lIcd many times, the particles gcl dctached from the rocks and the soils
arc formed.
(2) Wedging action of Ice-Water in the pores and minute crncks of rocks gets frozen in very cold
climates. As the volume of icc formed is more than that of water, expansion occurs. Rocks get broken into
pieces when large stresses develop in the cracks due to wedging action of the icc formed.
(3) Spreading of roots of phm1s-As the roots of trees and shrubs grow in the cracks and fISSUres of
the rocks, forces act on the rock. The segments of the rock arc forced apart and disintegration of rocks occurs.
(4) Abrasion-As water, wind :Jnd glaciers move over the surface of rock, abrasion :Jnd scouring takes
place. It results in the formation of soil.
In all the processes of physical diSintegration, there is no change in the chemical composition. 1llc soil
formed has the properties of the parent rock. Coarse grained soils, such as grnvel and sand, 3re fonned by the
process of physical disintegration.
B. Chemical Decomposition-When chemical decomposition or chemical weathering of rocks takes
place, original rock minerals arc transformed into new minerals by chemica] reaction.<>. The soils (onned do
not have the properties of the parenl" rock. The following chemical proc:csses generally OCOJr in nature.
(1) Hydration-In hydmtion, water combines with the rock minerals and results in the formation of a
new chemicnl compound. loe chemical reaction causes a dmnge in volume and decomposition of rock into
small particles.
(2) Carbonation-It is a type of chcmical decomposition in which carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
combines with water to form carbonic xid. Ibe c.lrbonic acid reacts chemically with rocks and causes their
(3) Oxidation--Oxidation occurs when oxygen ions combine with minerals in rocks. Oxidation results in
decomposition of rocks. Oxidmion of rocks is somewhat similar to rusting of steel.
(4) Solutlon-Somc of the rock minernls fonn a solution with water when they get dissolved in water.
Chemical reaction t:Jkes place in the solution and the soils are formed.
(5) Hydrolysis-It is a chemical process in which water gets dissociated into W and Olr ions. The
hydrogen cal ions replnc:c the metallic ions such as calcium, sodium :Jnd potassium in rock minerals and soils
are formed with a new chemical dccompa:>ition.
Chemical dccomposit.ion of rocks results in form:Jtion of clay minerals. These clay minerals impart plastic
properties to soils. Oayey soils are fonned by chemical decomposition.


The soils formed at a place may be transported to other places be agents of trarL<;portion, such as water,
wind. ice and gravity.
(1) Wllter transported Soils- Flowing water is one of the most important agents of transportation of
soils. Swill running water cnrries a large quantity of soil either in suspension or by rolling along (he bcd.
Water erodes the hills and deposits the soils in the valleys.
The size of the soil particles carried by w:Jter depends upon the velocity. 1bc swift water can carry the
particles of large size such as boulders and gravels. With a dca'casc in velocity, the coarse particles get
deposited. The [mer particles are carried further downstream and are deposited when the velocity reduces. A
delta is fanned when the velocity slows down to almost zero al the confluence with a receiving body of sliU
water, such as a lake, a sea or an oct.1n (Fig. 1.9).
riginal ground

Eroded ') _ ....
grou nd-./" ........ ,

Still · walen

Ag. 1.9. Alluvial Deposits.

All type of soils amied and deposited by water are known as alluvial deposits. Deposits made in lakes
are called lacustrine deposits. Sudl deposits are laminated or varved in layers. Marine deposits are formed
when the flowing water carries soils to ocean or sea.
(2) Wind transported Solls-Soil particles are transported by winds. The particle size of the soil
depends upon the velocity o[ wind. 'The finer partiCles are amied far away from the place of the [ormation.
A dust storm gives a visual evidence of the soil part icles carried by wind. Soils deposited by wind are known
as aeolian deposits.
Large sand dunes are fanned by winds. Sand dunes occur in arid regions and on the leeward side of sea
with sandy beaches.
Loess is a sill deposit made by wind. These deposits have low density and high compressibility. The
bearing capacity of such soils is very low. The permeability in the vertical dire<.:tioo is large.
(3) Glncier-Deposited SoiJs..---.Glaciers are large masses of ice facmed by the oompadion of snow. As the
glaciers grow and move, they carry with them soils varying in size [rom fine grained to huge boulders. Soils get
mixed with the ice and are transported far away from their original position. Drift is a general term used for the
deposits made by glaciers directly or indirealy. Deposits direct.ly made by melting of glaciers are called till.
Termina l morcl ln e


.. -. ,.
Gr ound moraine
Fig. 1.10. Glader Deposited Soils.

During their advancement, glociers tr.msport soils. At the lenninus, a melting glacier drops the material in
the fonn of ridges, known as terminal moraine (Fig. ] .10). '1l1e land which was once covered by glaciers and on
which till has been deposited after melting is called ground moraine. lbe soil carried by the melting water
from the front of a glacier is termed out-wash.
Glaciofluvial deposits arc fanned by glaciers. The material is moved by glaciers and subsequently
deposited by streams of melling water. These deposits have stratification.
Deposits of glacial till arc generally well-graded and can be compacted to a high dry density. lbcse have
generally high shearing strength.
(4) Gravity-deposited soil.<;-Soils C<'ln be transported through short distances under the action of gravity.
Rock fragments and soil masses collected at the foot of the cliffs or steep slopes had fallen from higher elevation
under the action of the gravitational force . Colluvial soils, such as talus, have been dcposited by the gravity.
Talus consists of irreguJar, coarse particles. It is a good source of broken rock pieces and coarse-grained
soils for many engineering works.
(5) Soils tr"ansporled by combined IIction-Somelimes, two or morc agenrs of transportation aCI jointly
and tr.lnsport the soil. For example, a soil portiele may fall under gravity and may be carried by wind to a
for off place. It might by picked up again by flowing waler and deposited. A glacier may carry it still further.
The soil deposits of India may be classified in the following five major groups :
(1) Alluvial Deposils-A large part of north india is oovered with alluvial deposits. lhe thickness of
alluvium in the Indo-Gangctic and Drnhmputra flood plains varies from a few mctn:s to more than one
hundred metres. Even in the pcninsul:lr India, ll11uvi'll deposits occur at some places.
The distinct characteristics of alluvial deposits is the existence of alternming layers of sand, silt and clay.
The thickness of each layer depends uiX>n the local terrain and the nature of floods in the rivers causing
deposition. The deposits are generally of low density and are liable to liquefaction in earthquake-prone areas.
(2) Black Cotton Soils-A large part of cenlral India and a portion of South India is oovered with black
cotton soils. These soils are residual deposits fonned from basalt or trap rocks. The soils are quite suitable for
growing collon.
Black cotton soils are clays of high plasticity. 'Ihey contain essentiaUy the clay mineral montmorillonite.
The soils have high shrinkage and sweUing eharncteristics. The shearing strength of the soils is extremely low.
The soils are highly compressible and have very low bearing capacity. It is extremely diffiadt to work with
such soils.
(3) Lateritic Soils-Lateritic soils arc formed by decomposition of rock. removal of bases and silica, and
accumulation of iron oxide and -aluminium oxide. The presence of iron oxide gives these soils the
characteristic red or pink colour. Thcsc are residual soils, formed from basalt. Lateritic soils exist in the
central. southern and c..1stem India.
The lateritic soils are soft and can be cut with a chisel when wet. However, these harden with lime. A
hard crust of gravel size particles, known as laterite, exists ncor the ground surface. The plasticity of the
lateritic soils decreases with depth as they approach the parent rock. These soils, especially thaie which
contain iron oxide, have relatively high specific gravity.
(4) Desert Soils-A large part of Rajasthan and adjoining states is covered with sand dunes. In this area,
arid conditions exist, with practically lillie mineaU.
Dune sand is uniform in gradation. lhe size of the particles is in the range of fine sand. The sand is
non-plastic and highly pervious. As the sand is gcncnltly in loose condition. it requires dcnsi[ic.1tion 10
increase its strength.
(5) Marine Deposits-Marine depooilS arc mainly confined along a narrow belt ncar the coast. In the
south-west coost of India, there are thick layers of sand above deep deposits of soft marine clays.
The marine deposits have very low shearing strength and are highly oomprcssible. They contain a large
amount of organiC mailer. The marine days are soft and highly plastic.


Soil is a highly complex material. It differs from conventional structural IT'3teriaLs, such as steel and
(1) Steel is a m~mufactured material the properties of which are accurately controlled. The properties of
concrete are also controlled to some extent during its preparation. Soil is a material which ha<> been subjected
to vagaries of nature, without any control. Conscquenlly, soil is a highly heterogeneous and unpredictable
(2) The properties of a soil change not only from one place to the other but also at the place with depth.
'1l1C properties also change with a Change in the environmental, loading and drainage conditions. lbc
properties of a soil depend not only on its type but also on the conditions under which it exists.
(3) The main engineering properties of steel and concrete are modulus of elasticity and tensile and
compressive strength. Most of the design work can be done if these properties are known or determined.
However, the engincering properties of soils ucpend upon a number of f;:lclors and it is not possible to
characterise them by two or three parameters. ElabUroItc h.:,:.;ting is required to dctennine the characteristics of
the soil before design can be donc.
(4) Because of huge qu:mtilics of soils involved. it is not econom ically feasible to tnmsport the soils from
other places like steel or ·concrete. Soils rlre gCl1cr:llly used in the conditions in which they exist.
(5) Whereas steel and concrcte C'ln be inspected bcfore usc, soils for foundmions are at great depth and
not open to inspection. lhe ~Imples of the soil Ulken from the bore holes are generally disturbed rind do nOI
represent the lrue in-situ conditions.
Soil engineering is not an exact science. Because of the nature and the variability of soils, sweeping
assumptions are made in the derivation of equations. '[he solution obtained in most cases are for an idealised,
hypothetical material, which may not truly represent the actual soil A good engineering judgment is required
fOf the interpretation of the results. In f'let, each problem in soil engineering is a unique problem because the
soils at two places arc seldom identical.
The following limitations must be kept in mind when tackling problems relate<! with soils.
(1) As the soil docs not possess a linear or unique stI"CSS-strnin relationship, the solutions of the theory of
elasticity CflnnO! be directly applied.
(2) The behaviour and the strength of soils depend upon pressure, drainage, environment and many other
faclors. These changes must be considered when dc.'l1ing w ilh soils.
(3) As the soil at every location is different, the results ilnd experience from one project to the other
should be trunsferred with C"-lulion.
(4) Since the soils arc sensitive 10 disturtxlOcc. the results of tCSlS conducted on soil s,1mplcs should be
interpreted carefully.
(5) The most of soil is underground :mu c:.mno! be inspcf..1ed. Adequlllc soil explormion should be done
to determine the profile of soil stmla. .
(6) The methods of oonstruClion may have 10 be modified as the work progresses and the properties pf
the soil begin to unfold. OCClsiona\ observations have to be made during and even after the completion of
work to check whether (he ~lSSumplions made were COITCf..1.
(7) It may nOI be of much usc to apply highly m3thcmatica~ rigorous solution to a material like soil
whose properties cannot be determined to the same accuracy.
(8) The soil is a p~lrticulate material in which the particles arc relatively frcc to move with respect to one
another. "Ibe behaviour of the soil crumges as the particles get shined.
(9) The soil is a multiphase system, consisting of solid, W31er and air phases. The behaviour of a soil
depends upon the relative proportion of the three phases.
(10) ~il mechanics is a relatively new science. Il is csscnt.ial to keep abreast of the wtest deveiopmenLS
in the field.


A geotechnical engineer should be well versed with the nomenclature and tenninology of different types
of soils. The foUowing list gives the names and salient characteristics of different types of soils, arranged in
alphabetical order.
(1) Bentonite-It is a type of clay with a very high percentage of clay mineml montmorillonite. It is a
highly plns!ic clay, resulting from the decomposition of volc:lOic ash. It is highly water absorbent and hao;
high shrinkage and swelling charuaeristics.
(2) Black Cotton Soil-It is a residual soil containing a high percentage of the C1.1y mineral
montmorillonite. It hao; very low bearing capacity and high swelling and shrinkage properties.
(3) Boulders-Boulders arc rock fragments of large size, more than 300 mm in size.
(4) Calcareous soils-These soils contain a largc quantity of calcium carbonatc. Such soils effervesce
when tCSled with weak hydrochlOriC acid.
(5) Caliche-It is a type of soil which cOntains gravel, sand and s ilt. 111c panicles are cemented by
calcium carbonatc.
(6) Cluy-It consists of microscopiC and sub-microscopic panicles derived from the chemical
dccompooition of rocks. It contains a large quantity of clay mincl1lis. It can be made plastic by adjusting the
water content. It exhibits considerable strength when dry. Clay is a finc-grained soil. It is a chocsive soil. The
particle size is less than 0.002 mm.
Drgunie eluy cont<lins finely divided organiC matter ond is usually dork grey or black in colour. It ha.. a
conspicuous odour. Organic clay is highly compressible and its strength is very high when dry.
(7) Cobbles-Cobbles are large size particles in the ronge of 80 mm to 300 mm.
(8) Diatomaceous earth-Diatoms are minute unicellular marine organisms. Diatomaceous earth is a
fmc, light grey, soft sedimentary dc~it of the silicious remains of skeletons of diatoms.
(9) Disper..lve days-These are spccialtype of clays which defloculate in still water. Such soils erocle if
exposed to tow- velocity water.
Susceptibility to dispersion depends upon the cations in the soil pore water.
(10) Dune sands--These are wind-tr:msportcd suil... There are composcc.J of relatively uniform particles
of fine to medium sand.
(11) Expansive cJays-·lbese are prone 10 large volume changes as the wnler content is changed.
These soil contain the mincr-dl montmorillonite.
(12) Fills-All man-made de~its of soil and waste-materials are called fill... These arc the soil
embankments raised obove the ground surface. Engineering properties of fills depend upon the type of soil,
its water content and the degree of compaction.
(13) GraveJ-Gmvel is a type of coorse-grainc;d soil. The panicle size ranges from 4.75 mm to 80 mm.
Il is a cohcsionless material.
(14) Hardpans-Hardpans are types of soils that ofTer great resistance to the penetration of drilling lOOts
during soil exploration. The soils are designated hardpans regardless of their particle sb'.c. These are generally
dense, weU-grnded, cohesive aggregates of mineral particles. Hardpans do not disintegrate when submerged in
(15) Humus-It is a c1nrk brown, organic amorphOUS eanh of the topsoil. It consists of panly
decomposed vegetal mailer. It is not suitable for engineering works.
(16) Kanknr-It is an impure form of lime stone. It contains Qllcium camonate mixed with some
silicious material.
(17) Laterites-Laterites are residual soils formed in tropical regions. Laterites are very son when
frcshly cut but become hard after long exposure. Hardness is due to cementing action of iron oxide and
aluminium oxide. These soils are also called lateritic soils.
(18) Loam-It is a mixture of 5.1nd, silt and clay. The tenn is generally used in agronomy. Tbe soil is
well suited 10 tilling operations.

(19) Loess-It is a wind blown deposit of siJL II is generally of uniform gradation, with the particle size
between 0.01 to 0.05 mm. It consists of quartz and feldspar particles, cemented with calcium carbonate or
iron oxide. When wet, it becomcs soft and compressible because cementing action is loot. A loess deposit has
a loose structure with numerous roo! holes which produce vertical cleavage. The permeability in the vertical
direction is generally much greater than thaI in the horizontal direction.
(20) Marl-It is a stiff, marine calcareous clay of greenish colour.
(21) Moorum-ll1c word moorulII is derived from a Tamil word, meaning powdered rock. It consists of
small pieces of disintegrated rock Of shale, with or without boulders.
(22) Muck-It denotes a mixture of fmc soil particles and highly deoomposed organiC matter. It is black
in colour and of extremely soft consistency. It caonot be used for engineering works. The organic matter is in
an advanced stage of decomposition.
(23) Peat-It is an organic soil having fibrous aggregates of macroscopic and microscopic particles. It is
fonned from veget.'ll matter under conditions of excess moisture, such as in swamllS. It is highly compressible
and not suitable for foundations.
(24) Sund-It is a coarse-grained soil, having particle size between 0.075 mm to 4.75 mm. The particles
are visible to naked eye. The soil is cobesionless and pervious.
(25) Silt-It is a fine-grained soil, with particle size between 0.002 mm and 0.075' mm. The particles are
not visible to naked eyes.
Inorganic silt consists of bulky, equidimensional grains of quartz. It has little or no plasticity, and is
Organic silt contains an admixture of org<lOic malter. IL is n plastic soil and is cohesive.
(26) Till-It is an unstrntified deposit formed by melting of a glacier. The deposit consists of particles of
different sizes, ranging from boulders to clay. The soil is generally well-graded. It can be ea<>ily dcnsified by
compaction. Till is also known as boulder-clay.
(27) Top soils-Top soils are surface soils that support plants. They contain a large quantity of organic
matter and nrc not suitable for foundations.
(28) Tuft-It is a fine-grained soil composed of very small particles ejected from volcanoes during its
explosion and deposited by wind or water.
(29) Thndru-It is a mat of peat and shrubby vegetation that oovers clayey subsoil in arctic regions. The
deeper layers are permanently frozen and are called permafrost. lbe surface deposit is the active layer which
alternately freezes and thaws.
(30) Varved clays-These are Sedimentary deposits consisting of alternate thin layers of silt and clay.
The thickness of each layer seldom exceeds 1 cm. These clays are the results of deposition in lakes during
perioos of alternately high and low waters.
[Note. For glossary of technical terms, sec APPENDIX A].
Soils in which tbe adsorbed water and particle attraction act such that it defonns plastically at varying
water contents are known as cohesive soils or clays. This cohesive property is due to presence of clay
minerals in soils. Therefore, the term cohesive soil is used synonymously for clayey soils.
The soils composed of bulky grains are cohesionlcss regardless of the fineness of the particles. The rock
flour is cohesionless even when it hac; the particle size smaller than 21l size. Non-pla'ltic s ilts and coarse-
grnined soils are oohcsionlcss.
[Nofe. 1 Il = 1 micron = 1O~ m = 10-3 mmJ.
Many soils are mixture of bulky grains and clay minerals and exhibit some degree of plasticity with
varying water content. Such soils are termed cohesive if the plasticity effect is significant; otherwise,
Obviously, there is no sharp dividing line between cohcsionless and cohesive soils. However, it is
sometimes convenient to divide the soil into above two groups.

111e term cohesive-soil is used for clays and plastic silt, and the term cohcsionlcss-soil, for non·plastic
silts. sands and gravel
According to the author, the history of soil engineering can be divided into three periods, as described
(1) Ancient to Mediey,,1 perlod-Man's first contact with soil was when he placed his foot on the earth.
In ancient times, soil was used as a construction material for building huge earth mounds for religious
purposes, burial places and dwellings. Caves were built in soit 10 live in.
ExceUent pavements were construded in Egypt and India much before the OI.ristian era. Some earth
dams have been storing water in India for more than 2000 years. Remnants of various underground waler
structures. such as aqueducts. tunnels and large drains. found in the excavation at the sites of early civilisation
at Mohenjodaro and l-Iarrappa in the Indian subcontinent indicate the use of soil a.<; foundation and
construction material. Egyptian used caissons for /Jeep foundations j::vcn 2000 D.C. I hmging gClrden at
Babylon (Iraq) was also built during that period. The city of D.1bylon was built on fills above the adjoining
flood plains.
During Roman times, heavy structures, such as bridges, aqueducts, harbours and buildings, were built.
Some of these works are in existence even today. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, tbe construction
activities declined. However, some heavy city walls and forts were built from the strategic considerations.
Cathedrals. casLJes and campaniles (bell towers) were also constructed. lbe famous tower of !lisa. known as
the leaning tower of Pisa, was also built. The tower has leaned on one side because of the diITerentiai
sctllement of its base.
The famous Rialto Bridge was constructed in Venice (Italy) in the seventeenth century. Leonardo da Vinci
constructed a number of structures in France during the same perioo. The famous London Bridge in England

1 was also built. The mausoleum Thj Mahal at Agra (India) was constructed by the emperor Shah Jehan to
commemorate his favourite wifc Mumtaz Mahal. It is built on masonry cylindrical wclls sunk into the soil at
close intcrvals.
11 is certain that early builders. while constructing such huge structures, encountcred and successfully
tackled many challenging problems. However, no record in available about the methods adopted. No scientific
study seems to have been made. The builders were guided by the knowledge and experience passed down
from generation to generation.
(2) Period of Early Developments-The eighteenth century caD be considered as the real beginning of
soil engineering when early developments in soil engineering look place. In 1773, a French engineer Coulomb
gave a thcory of earth pressure on retaining walts. 1be theory is used by the gcotechniall engineers even
today (chapter 19). Coulomb also introduced the concept thill the shearing resistance of soil consists of two
components, namely, the cohesion compunent ~md the rric.1ion component (ch.1plcr 13). Culmann gave a
geneI"dl gT'dphical solution for the earth pressure in 1866. Ibmkine. in 1857, published a theory on earth
pressure considering the plastic equilibrium of the earth mass. In 1874, Rehbann gave a graphical method for
computaHon of earth pressure based on Coulomb's theory.
Darcy gave the law of the permeability of soils in 1856. Darcy's law is used for the computation of
seepage through soils (chapters 8 and 9). In the same year, Stokes gave tbe law for the velocity o[ fall of
solid particles through fluids. The law is used [or determining the particle size, as disoJssed in chapter 3.
Q-Mohr gave the rupture theory for soils in 1871. He also gave a graphical method of representation of
slresses, popularly known as Mohr's circle. II is extremely useful for delerminalion of stresses 00 inclined
planes (Chapter 13).
Boussinesq, in 1885, gave the theory of stress distribution in a semi·infmile, homogeneous, isotropic,
elastic medium due to an externally applied load. The theory is used for detennination of stresses in soils due
to loads, as discussed in Chapter 11. .
In 1908, Marston gave the theory for the load carried by underground conduits (chapter 22).
Atlerberg. in 1911, suggested SOQl~ simple tests for characterizing consistency of cohesive soils. The

limits, commonly known as Altcrbcrg's limits, are useful for identification and classification of soils, as
discussed in chaplers 4 and 5.
Swedish Geotechnical Commission of the Siale Railways of Sweden appointed a committee headed by
Prof. Fellcnius in 1913 \0 study the st.'lbility of slopes. The commillee gDvC the Swedish circle method for
checking the stability of slopes, dcsaibcd in ch.'lptcr 18. In 1916, Petterson gllvc the friction circle method for
the stability of slopes.
(3) Modem Era-The modem em of Soil Engineering I;Icgan in 1925. with the publicaliOl) of the book
E,dballmechanic by KJolri TCL,taghi. The contribution made by Tcrzaghi in lhe development of soil engineering
is immense. He is fittingly called the father of soil mechanics. For the first time, he adopted a scientific
approach in the study of soil mechnnics. His theory of consolidation of soils (chapler 12) and the effective
stress principle (chapler 10) gave a new direction.
ProcIor did pioneering work on compaction of soils in 1933. ~ discussed in chapter 14.
Taylor made major contributions on consolidation of soils, shear strength of clays and the stability of slopes.
Casagmnde made significant contributions on classification of soils, seepage through earth masses and
Skempton did pioneering work on the pore pressures, effective stress, bearing capacity and the stability
of slopes.
Meyerhof gave the theories for the bearing capacity of shallow and deep foundatioos.
Hvorslcv did commendable work on subsurface exploration and on shear strength of remouldcd clays.
The above list is far from complete. Many other distinguished geotechnical engineers have made a mark
on the development of soil engineering. Because of space limitation, their mention could not be made in the
above list.

A. Oescripllve
1.1. DefiDC the term 'soil', 'soil mcchaniu;' and soil engineering. What are limillltions of soil engineering?
1.2. Whot is geologic eycle ? Expl;)jn the phenomena of formation and ltaosporUition of soils.
13. What arc the major soil deposits of India? Explain their characteristics.
1.4. Write D bricf history of soil engineering.
n. Multiple·Choice Questions
1. Colluvial soils (talus) are transported by:
(a) Water (b) Wind
(e) Grovity (d) Ice
2. Water-tronsponed soils are termed:
(a) Aeoline (b) Alluvial
(e) Colluvial (d)1i1l
3. Glacier-dcpositcd soils are called:
(a) Talus (b) Loess
(e) Drin (d) None of above
4. Cohesionlcss soils ate fonned due to:
(a) Oxidation (b) Hydration
(e) Physical disintegration Cd) Chemical decomposition
5.. When the prcxluCiS of rock wC<lthcring are nottmnsponed but remain at the place of formation, the soil is called:
(a) Alluvial soil tb) Thlus
(e) Residual soil (d)Acoliansoil
6. The follOWing type or soil is nOl glacler-depositcd.:
(a) Drift (b) Till
(e) Outwash (d) T1cnlonitc. (Am. I (el. 2 (bl. 3 (e), 4 (e), 5 eel. 6 (11)1
Basic Definitions and Simple Tests

A soil mass consists of solid particles which form a jXlrous structure. The voids in the soil mass may be
filled with air. with water or partly
with air and partly wiLh water. In Air
general.., a soil mass consists of solid
particles, water and air. The three Wat/i!f
constituents are blended together to
form a complex material (Fig. 2.1.
a). However, for OJnvcnicncc, aU
the solid particles are segregated and Solid
placed in the lower layer of the
three-phase diagram (Fig. 2.1b).
Ukewise, water and air particles are
placed separately. as shown. The
3-phase diagram is alSo known as (a) (b)
Block diagram.
It may be noted that the three
constituents cannot be actually Fig. 2.1. Conlititueflts of Soil.
segregated, as shown. A 3-phase diagram is :10 llrtince ll.<>ed for easy understanding Dnd convenience in
Although the soil is a three-phase system, it becomes a two-phase system in the following two cases: (1)

::f2r~~~~~~~Eli~i;"~:~ T~
saturated, there is no air phase
(Fig. 2.2b). It i, the <elative
It\10 .
tI rtr I-::-:;;~;:
:-:-:-:-:-:-:::- - T
- ~- = -= -: -=- =-: Mw

~T~~~:Cl~;~::; lV
The phase diagram is a simple,
diagrnmmetic representation of a
1Ms 1" 1L v,
- - - - - - -

real soil. It is extremely useful for

studying the various tenns used in {ol Dry soil (o)Soluroled soil
soil engineering and their inter-
Fig. 22. Two-phRse diagrams.

In a 3-phase diagram, it is conventional to write volumes 00 the left side and the mass on the right side (Fig.
2.3 0). The t~otal
volume of , gwen soil m"j.in designatal as V. h e of solids (V,~
equal to the sum of ' nvolume

~,,~.,.:,:,~~c ~ T 11 '=''''''~o:' f
"e Air Mo=O '4:J Air 'No:0
"" .. --.-.------.-.. T "" T ----- --.-- T

J "" fI 11 ~" 11

(0) (b)
Fig. 2_1. 'I1m:c-phasc lIiagram.
the volume of water (V...) ilnd the volume of air (V,,). '11m volume of voids (V,.) is equal (0 the sum of the
volumes of water and air.
lbe lotal mass of the soil mass is represented as M. lllC mass of air (MIJ) is very small and is neglected.
lbcrcfOfc. the lotlll mass of the soil is equal to the mass of solids (M,) and the mass of water (M..,).
Fig. 2.3b shows the 3-phase diagram in which the weights are written on the right side.
'Jbe following five volumetric relationships are widely used ip soil engineering.
(1) Void Rutio (e)-ll is defmed as the ratio of the volume of voids to the volume of solids. Thus

< - i .. (2.1)

The void ratio is expressed as a decimal, such as 0.4, 0.5, etc. For coarse-grained roils, the void ratio is
gcncr.llly smaller than that for fine-grained soils. For some soils, it may have a value even greater than unity.
(2) l'orosity (n)-It is defined as the ratio of the volume of voids to the total volume. Thus

n· ~ ... (2.2)
Poror;ity is gcneraUy expressed as percentage. However, in equations. it is used as a ratio. For example,
a porosity ' of 50% will be used as 0.5 in equations. The porosity of a soil cannot exceed 100% as it woukl
mean V~ is greater than V, which is absurd. 10 fact, it will have a much smaller value. Porosity is aJso known
as percentage voids.
Doth porosity and void ralio are mea'iurcs of the denseness (or loosencs..'9 of soils. As the soil becomes
more and more dense, their values dc<'T~sc. The lenn porosity is more oommunly used in other disciplines
such as agricultural enginccring. In soil engineering. lhe term void mHo i"i more popular. It is more
convenient to use void ratio Ihan porosity. When the volume of a soil mass changes., only the numerator (i.e.
V~) in the void ratio changes and the denominator (i.e. V,) remains constant. However, if the lenn porosity is
used, both the numerator and the denominator change and it becomes inconvenient.
An inter-relationship can be found between the void ratio and the porosity as under.
1 V V" + V,
From Eq. 2.2,

!.1+!.!...:!:...! ... (0)

n < e
or n _ -<- ... (23)
I + e

Also, from Eq. (a), ~ _;; _ 1 _ l~n

e .. 1 :n .. (2.4)

In Eqs. (2.3) and (2.4), the porosity should be expressed as a ratio (and not pcrentagc).
(3) Degree of Saturation (5)-The degree of saturation (S) is the ratio of the volume of water to the
volume of voids.

Thus s-~ ,.. (2.5)

The degree of 5.1luralion is generally expressed as a percentage. It is equal to zero when the soil is absolutely
dry and 100% when the soil is fully saturated. In expressions, the degree of saturation is used as a decimal.
In some texts, the degree of saturation is expressed as S,.
(4) Percentuge Ai.- voids (n,,)-It is the ralio of the volume of air to the tolal volume.
111us na" V .. .(2.6)

As the name indicates, it is represented as a percentage.

(5) Air Content (Q~)-Air oontent is defined as the ratio of the volume of air to the volume of voids.
Thus ar - -v::- ... (2.7)
Air content is usually expressed as a percentage.
Both air content and the percentage air voids are zero when the soil is saturated (V" = 0).
An inter-relationship between the percentage air voids and the air oontent can be obtained .
From Eq. 2.6, n" -
V - v:Va )( VVv
or n" - n Q c ... (2.8)
[Note_ In literature, the ratio V" IV is also·c.111cd air content hy some authors. However. in this lext, this ralio
would be lenned percentage nir voids ..nd nOI air contentJ.
The water content (w) is defined as the ratio of the mass of water to the mass of solids.
w_~ ... (2.9)
The water content is also known as the moisture conlent (m). 11 is expressed as a percentage, but used as
a decimal in computation.
The water content of the fine-grained soils, such as silts and clays, is generally more than that of the
coarse grained soils, such as gravels and sands. The water cootent of some of the fme-gained soils may be
even more than 100%, which indicates that more than 50% of the total mass is that of water.
The water content of a soil is an important property. The characteristics of a soil, especially a
fine-grained soil, change to a marked degree with a variation of its water content.
In geology and some other disciplines, the water content is defined as the ratio of the mass of water to
the total mass. Some of tbe instruments, such as moisture tesler, also give the water content as a ratio of the
total mass. In this text water content (w) will be taken as given by Eq. 2.9, unless mentioned otherwise.
The symbol m' shall be used in this texl for the water content based on the total wet mass. Thus

/II' - ¥f)( 100 ... (2.10)

Note. Certain quantities, as defined above, are expressed as a ratio and certain other quantities, as a

percentage. To avoid confusion. it is a<.Ivis<lbJc to express all quantities as a r.atio (or a decimal) in
comput3lions. lbe final result should be expressed ..s a pcrccnt<lgc for the qu:mtitics which ore defined as a
percentage and as decimal for other quantities.
2.4. UNITS
In this lexl, SI wnilS arc used. In Ihis system, mass (M). length (L) and lime (1) arc the basic dimensions.
The mass b: expressed in kilogrnmmc (kg) units. the length in metre (M) units and the time in seronds (sec
or $) units.
The most important derived unit is the force unit. The force is expressed in newton (N). One newton is
the force which is required to give an accelcraLion of 1 m/sec to a ma5S of 1 kg. Thus
In addition [0 kg mass and N force, the following multiples and submultiples are also frequently used.
1 milligrnmmc (mg) = 10-3 gram (gm or g)
1 kilogrnmme (kg) = tOl gm
1 mcgagrammc (Mg) = 106 gm = 103 kg
1 millinewton (mN) = 10--3 newton (N)
1 lcilonewton (kN) = 103 N
1 meg<lnewton (MN) '" 106 N = 103 kN
'(be volume-mass n;l;ltiornhip ure in tenns or mass density. 'Ibe rna..... of soil per unit volume is known
as mass density. In soil cngin\:cring. the fullowing 5 dilTerent muss densities arc usct.I.
(1) Bulk Muss Den.. Uy-l11e bulk mao;s density (p) is defined m the total mass (M) per unit lotal
volume (Y). Thus, from Fig. 23 (a),
P -- ... (2.11)
The bulk mass densily is also known as the wei mass density or simply bulk density or density. It is
expressed in kg/ml, gm/ml or Mg/ml.
Obviously. 1 Mg/m 3 1000 kg/m l
= =
1 gm/ml
(2) Dry Mass DensUy-The dry mass density (p.,) is defined as the mass of solids per unit lotal volume.
Pd- V ... (2.12)

As the soil may shrink during drying. the mass density may not be equal to the bulk mass density of the
soil in the dried condition. '(be lotal volume is measured before drying.
The dry mas... density is also known as the dry density.
The dry mass density is used to express the denseness of the soil. A high value of. dry mass density
indicates that the soil is in a compact condition.
(3) Saturated Mass DensJty-The saturated mass density (PS<Ii) is the bulk mass density of the soil when
it is fully saturated. Thus
P,. - I I ... (2.13)
(4) Submerged Muss liel\.~Uy-When Ihe soil cxisL" beluw water, it is in II submerged condition. Wheo
a volume V of soil is Submerged in water, it displaces an equal volume of water. Thus the net mass of soil
when submerged is reduced (Fig. 2.4 (o)}.
The submerged mass density (p') of the soil is defined as the submerged rna<>s ~ unit of total volume.

The submerged dcnsily : - a:~br ~"':._=

_:-_=_=_ 1_ ~=__-_____ ~~~14)
::V;:I~C~:yi:nt::~t;:~it~:;b)~IsoJ Tr ----------- 11 TT ------------1
FIg. 2.4 (a) shows a sOli m~
submerged under water. The soil solids

~ equal 10 Ihe
which have a volume of V, arc buoyed up
by Ihe walec. The uplhrusl
1 I

v, G

1 Vs
v, G'W

mass of water diplaced by the solids. I I
Thus U _ V,P", u:VsJ'w U:Vs'6w
(o) (b)
Fig. 2.4. Submerged mass.
- V, Gp ... - VsP ...
, V;p.(G-l)
From Eq. 2.14, P - - -v- - ... (2.15)

Alternatively, we can also consider the equilibrium of the entire volume M. In this case. the total
downward mass, including lhe mass of water in the voids, is given by
M'Ol - M,+V~ p ...
The total upward thrust, including that on the water in voids, is given by
U _ Vp.
Therefore, the submerged mass is given by
M.•"h = (M,,' + V" p".) - V p".
From Eq. 2.14, p' = (M., + V,. ~".) - V p", =_

Using Eq. 2.13 p' - r'aI - p... ...(2.16)
The submerged density p' is roughly one-half of the saturated density.
(5) Mass Density of Sollds-1be mass density of solids (p,) is equal to the ratio of thc mass of solids
to the volume of solids. Thus
p, - V, ... (2.17)


The volume-weight relDtionships are in terms of unit weights. The weight of soil per unit volume is
known as unit weight (or specific weight). In soil engineering, the following five different unit weights are
used in various computations.
(1) Bulk Unit Weight-The bulk unit weight (y) is defined as the total weight per unit total volume [Fig.
2.3 (b)] . Thu,
"t - V ... [2.11(0)]
The bulk unit weight is alSo known as the total unit weight ("tl)' or the wet unit weight.
In 51 units, it is expressed as N/m 3 or kN/ m3.
In some texts. the bulk unit weight is expressed as "tb or "tr

(2) Dry Unit Wdght-The dry unit weight (Yd) is defined as the weight of solids per unit total volume.
Thus 'fd""-Y ... (2.12(a)J
(3) Sutur-lled Unit Wcight-The saturated unit weight (llol1') is the bulk unit weight when the soil is fully
lYr ....
Thus y,« - II ... (2.13(a)J
(4) Submerged Unit Weight-When Ihe soil exists below water. it is in a submerged condition. A
buoyant Corce acts on the soil solids. According to Archimedes' principle, the buoyant [orce is equal to the
wcighi of water displaced by Ihe solids. The net mass of the solids is reduced. The reduced mass is known
as the submerged mass or the buoyant mass.
lltc submerged unit weight (y') of the soil is defined as the submerged weight per unit of total volume.
, lVslIh
Tbus y.--y ... (2.14(a)l
Fig. 2.4 (b) shows a soil mass submerged under water. lbc soil solids which have a volume of V, are
buoyed up by the water. The buoyant force (U) is equal to the weight of wuter displaced by the solids.
U - Viy ...
The weight of water in the voids has a zero weight in water, as the weight of water and the buoyant force
just balance c.'lch other. When submerged, all voids can be assumed 10 be filled with water.
lltercforc, w. ....... w,-u
- V,Gy. - V, y. - V,y.(G - 1)
• V,y.(G - 1)
From Eq. 2.14. Y ---V-- . .. [2.15(a)J
We can also consider the equilibrium of the entire volume (Y). The lotal downward force, including the
wight of water in the voids, is given by
W..'" .. W, + V" Y...
The tOial upward force, including that on the water in voids, is given by U .. Vy",
Therefore, the Submerged unit weight is given by
W,uh = (W~ + V,.y",).- Vy"
From Eq. 2.14, i = ( ~, + V,. ~,,) - Vy". = ~.." ~ VYw

Using Eq. 2.13 Y' - YI(;I( - Y... ... [2.16(a)]

llte submerged unit weight is roughly one-half of the saturated unit weight.
In literature, the submerged uni! weight is also frequently expressed as 'fsub' For convenience, the
submerged uni! weight wiD be expressed as y' in Ihis tex\.
(S) Unit weight of Soil SolicJs.-The unit weight oC solids (Y.) is equal!o the mtio of the weight of solids
to the volume of solids. Thus
't, - V; ... (2.17(a)J


In Sect. 2.5, the mass-volume relationships have been developed. The corresponding weight-volume
relationships arc given in Sect. 2.6. The reader should carefully understand the difference between the two
units and should be able to convert the mass densities to the unit weights and vice-llCrsa.
The mass and weight are related by Newton's second law of motion, viz,
Force :: Mass )( Acceleration

When a force of one newton (N) is applied to a mass of one kilogrammc (kg), the acceleration is 1
mlsec2. The weight of 1 kg mass of material on the surface of earth is 9.81 N hecausc the acceleration due
to gravity (g) is 9.81 mlsec". Thus we can ('{)Overt the mass in kg into weight in N by multiplying it by g. In
otberwards, W = Mg.
Because the unit weight '( is expressed as 1VIV and the mass density (p) as MIV. the two quantities can
be related as

y-*- Y -pg
Thus unit weight in Nlml = mass density in kglm l )C 9.81
For example, for water Pw is 1000 kglm 3.
Therefore, '(W - 1000 )C 9.81 _ 9810 Nlm 3 =: 9.81 kNlml _ 10 kNlm 3
Sometimes, the mass density is expressed in Mgfm 3 or glml. The corresponding unit weight in kNlm 3 is
equal to 9.81 p. For example, for water Pw is 1 Mg/m3 or 1 glml. The corresponding unit weight is 9.8l
Likewise. mass density of 1600 kglm l corresponds to a unit weight of 1600 x 9.81 N/ml = 15696 Nlml
'" 15.696 kNlm 3. In the reverse order, a unit weight of 18 kNlml corresponds to a mass density of 1800019.81
= 1834.62 kglm .
It will not be OUI of place to give a passing reference to the MKS unils still prelevant in some fields . In
MKS units, the weight is expressed in kilogram me force (kgf). It is equal to the force exerted on a mass of
1 kg due to gravity. As the same force is also equal to 9.81 N, we have
1 kgf= 9.81 N

unit ~e~h7~~nw~t~/~s~~ ~;;,~ra~~f;h~ =rr!~~~~:l~~ i~e;:o:i~ ~~;i~~;i~;9~~r ~~~le,

Likewise, 1 kgf/ cm 2 _ 104 kgflm2
_ 104 X 9.81 N/m2 _ 98.1 kN/m 2 _ 98.1 k Pa
The unit kgf is not used in this text.
Measurement of Mass
The mass of a quantity of matter is determined with a weighing balance. lbe weights which have
previously been used in MKS units are also used in SI units for measurement of mass. In other words, the
weight of I kgf is called as the mass of I kg. The quantity of matter which weighs I kgf in MKS units will
have a mass of I kg in SI units. Of course, the weight of that quantity of matter will be 9.81 N.
Thus the weighing balances and weights which were previously used for determining the weights in kgf
are used to determine the mass in kg.
The specific gravity of solid particles (G) is defined as the ratio of the mass of a given volume of solids
to the mass of an equal volume of water at 4°C. Thus, the specific gravity is given by

G - Ii: ..
The mass d~nsity of water pw at 4°C is one gmlm l, 1000 kglm 3 or 1 Mg/ml.
[Note. In some texts, the specific gravity is represented as Gs .]
The specific gravity of solids (or most natural soils falls in the general range of 2.65 to 2.80; the smaller
values are for the coarse-grained soil... Table 2.1 gives the average values for different soils. It may be mentioned
that the specific gravity of different panicles in a soil mass may not be the same. Whenever the specific
gravity of a soil mass ~ indicated, it is the average value of all the solid particles present in the soil mass.
SpecifiC gravity of solids is an important parameter. It is used for determination of void ratio and particle size.

Table 2.1. Typlatl Values of G

Soil Type Specific Gravity
Grovel 2..65-2.68
So"" 2..65-2.68
Silty Sands
Sill 2..66-210
InocganicQays 2.68-280
Organic Soils Variable, may fall below 2.00

In addition to thc standard tcrm of specific gravity as defined, thc following two tcnns related with the
specific gravity are also occasionally used.
(1) Muss Specific Gravity (G",~1t is defined as the ratio of lhe mass density of the soil to the ma<iS
density of water.

. .. (2.\9)

Obviously. the value of the mass specific gravity of a soil is much smaller than the value of the specific
gravity of solids.
The mass specific gravity is also known as the apparent specifte gravity or the bulk specific gravity.
(2) Absolute SpeciOc Gravity (G.,)-1be soil solids are Dot perfect solids but contain voids. Some of
these voids are pcnneable through which water can enter, whereas others are impenneable. Since the
permeable voids get filled when the soil is wet, these are in reality a part of void space in the totol mass and
nOi a part of soil solids. If both the pcnncable and impenneabJe voids are excluded from the volume of
solids, the remaining volume is the true or absolute volume of the solids.
The mass density of the absolute solids (Ps).. is used for the detenninalion of the absolute specific gravity
of solids as under. Thus

... (2.20)

The absolute specific gravity is not of much practical use, as it is difficult to differentiate between the
permeable and impcnneable voids. In most cases, the impcnneable parts are taken as the part of solids. In this
text, the tenn specific gravity of soil solids (G) is ~ to denote the specific gravity of soil solids inclusive

.1J ill.
of the impermeable voids. In Eq. 2.18, the soil solids therefore mean the solids with their impenneable voids.

ill --
The relationships developed in the preceding sections are independent of the actual dimensions of the soil

~~OI~:C ~r:~:~~~ . ..L -L

~,:.::: ~~e~":n7:~~ l'W~t>S,I~O
::~:~::-.:-~ ::-: "'tS"So}'W ~I-
l'Wt"S. ~
:.=.:.:.-:-:;.---::..:.:.. w",t"S.lW
the volume of solids is I+e
also equal to the height
of solids. Fig. 2.5 (a)
shows the phase diagram
with volume of solids V.
equal to unity. Since the
l+e '


void ratio is equal to the fa) (b)

ratio of the volume of Fig. 2.S. Three.phase d iagram in terms of void ratio.

voids to the volume of solids, the volume of voids in Fig. 2.5 (0) becomes equal to e. The total volume ('\I)
is obviously equal to \1 + e). 1be volume of air is shown bye" and the volume of water, bye....
The volumes are shown on the left side and the mrresponding mass on the right side in Fig. 2.5 (a). 1be
volumetric relationships developed in Sect. 2.2 can be written direaly in tenns of void ratio as under:

Poru;ity, n .. ~ .. ~
Degree of saturation, s .. ~_~
V. e
The volume of water (V...) is shown as Se in Fig. 2.5(0). Obviously, the volume of air (V,,) is equal
to (e - Se) = e(1 - S).

Therefore, percentage air voids, n" .. ~ .. e ~1 +- eS)

and air content, a" .. ~ .. ¥ . (1 - S)

Various mass densities discussed in Sect. 2.4 can be expressed in terms of the void rotio from Fig. 2.5
M M~+M... Gp ... + Sep ...
From Eq. 2.11, p .. V .. I-:;e .. --1-.-e-
(G + Se)p ...
p - -l-.-e- ".(2.21)

M, Gp...
From Eq. 2.12 Pd-V-~ ".(2.22)
From Eq. 2.13, P,... ----y-
As the degree of saturation for a saturated soil is l.0 (i.e. 100%), Eq. 2.21 gives
(G. e)p.
P,... .,~ ".(2.23)
, (G. ')P.
From Eq. 2.16 P .. p- - P..... -1-.-.- - P.
, (G - 1)
or P"~P ... ".(2.24)
In case the soil is not fully saturated, the submerged mass density is given by p' .. P - P...

From Eq. 2.21 p' .. (G 1+ :e; P ... _ p ...

(G • Se) p. - (1 • e) p.
1 • e
, [(G - 1)- e(l - S)] P.
p .. 1 + e ".(2.25)
Eq. 2.25 reduces to Eq. 2.24 when the soil is fully saturated (S = 1.0).
Equations In Weight Units
Eqs. 2.21 to 2.25 can be expressed in terms of weights. Equations can be derived comidering the
vOlume-weight phase diagrams [Fig. 2.5 (b)] or simply by multiplying both sides of the equations by g and
remembering thaI 1 .. pg. Thus

(G + Se)l..,
Eq. 2.21 be<omos y - -1-+-.- [2.21(a)1
Eq. 2.22 becomes 'td" I-:;:-; ... [2.12 (a)1

Eq. 2.23 becomes (G + ely.

'fJQI-~ . .. [2.23 (a)]

Eq. 2.24 becomes • (G - I)

'f - --y-:;:-e Y... ... [2.24 (a)]
• [(G - 1)-.(1 - s)]y.
Eq. 2.25 be<omcs ... [2.25 (a)1
'f .. 1 + e
In geotcchnical engineering, unit wcighlS are generally expres...oo in IcN/ml. The unit weight of waler
(Y ...) is 9.81 kN/m , which is sometimes taken as 10 kN/ml, for convenience.
It may be mentioned once again that mass density in glm! can be converted into unit weight in kN/ml
by multiplying it by 9.81.
For water, p... .. 1 glm!. "t.., .. 9.81 kN/ml
For soils, if p .. 2 glm!. y .. 19.62 kN/ml
Fig. 2.6(a) shows the three-phase diagrom in which the total volume is taken as unity. According 10 the
dcfinilion of porosity n,

(0) (b)
Fig. 2.6. Ph.1se-dillgram in terms of porssity.

Thcremre, the volume of voids in shown as n.
Obviously, the volume of solids is (1 - n).

Void ratio, n
• - ~ (same as Eq. 2.4)

From Eq. 2.11 , P _ %- _ M~ + :",p", _ G p",(l - ;) + Sn p",

or p - IG (I - n) + Sn] P. . .. (2.26)
From Eq. 2.12, Pd _ *" _ GP",~l-n)
Pd - Gp",(l-n) ... (2.27)

From Eq. 2.13 Ps... _ M~<If _ G p",(l - In) + n p ...

or P,. - [G(I-a) + alp. . .. (2.28)

From Eq. 2.15 p' _ V'P.~-I) _ (I - a)p•. (G - I)

or p' - (G - 1)(1 - a) p. . .. (2.29)

It mily be mentioned that Eqs. (2.26) to (2.29) in terms of porosity can also be derived from Eqs. (2.21)
to (2.25) dircaly by substituting e - nl(l -n). This is left an exercise for the readers.
Equations In tenns of Weight units
Eqs. 2.26 to 2.29 can be written in terms of unit weights as under.
Eq. 2.26 becomes y - [G(I-a) + SalY. .[2.26(a)1
Eq. 2.27 becomes y" - Gy.(I-a) ... [2.27(a)1
Eq. 2.28 becomes '($'" - [G (1 - n) + n] ,(", ... [2.28(a)1
Eq. 2.28 becomes y' _ (G - 1)(1 - n) y. . .. [2.29(a)J

An extremely useful relationship between the void ratio (e) and the water content (w) can be developed
as under.
Fig. 2.7 (a) shows the three-phase diagram.

------.-----~ t t ------------ t
Mw~Vwfw l'w ------------ Mw~S'Yw

1 1 T~WG IYw
Fig. 2.7. Three-phase ddiagram .
M -
From Eq. 2.9 w - M;
w _ V... P...
From Eq. 2.5, V... • SV~

and from Sq. 2.18, £!.. G orps·Gp...

Therefore, W· V.. G
But Vv IV, "" void ratio (e). Therefore.
ore - S ... (2.30)

For a fully salurnlcd soil, S = 1.0, and

e - "" ... (2.31)
Alternatively Eqs. (2.30) and (2.31) can be derived using the 3·phasc diagram in terms of the void ratio
[Mg. 2.7 (b»).
w _ ~ Sep ...
From Eq. 2.9, M~ or w - G P...

or w - ~ or e· i ,. (same as Eq. 2.30)

II may be noted that it is morc convenient to work with 3-phasc diagram in (enns of void £"'ollio. The
reader is advised to use 3-phnse diagram in terms of void ralio as far $ possible.
The e.'{prcssions for mass density c.1n be written in terms of water content by writing the void mtio in
terms of water content using Eq. 2.30.
From Eq. 2.21 (G • Se) p.
p - -I-.-e-
(G • "") p. (1 + w)Gp ....
p - 1 • ("")IS or . .. (2.32)
P - 1 • ("")IS
If the soil is fully saturated, S ::: 1.0, and Eq. 2.32 becomes
(1 + w)Gp",
Pl"-~ ... (2.33)
From Eq. 2.16, the submerged density is given by
(1 + w)Gp",
P.../>- Pl"-P",·~ -P...
(G - I)p.
or Psub-~ ...(2.34)
Eq.2.34 can also be obtnined directly from Eq. 2.24 by substituting e • wG.
From Eq. 2.22, Gp.
PJ - t;e
or Gp.
p, - 1 • (""IS) ...(2.35)
From Eqs. 2.32 and 2.35,
... (236)
Eq. 2.36 is nn extremely useful equation for determination of the dry density from the bulk density and
vice versa.
For a given water content w, a soil becomes saturated when S = 1.0 in Eq. 2.35. The dry density of the
soil in such a condition can be represented as .

(Pd)zQt • 1 ~P~ ... (237)

(p.dsQt is called saturated dry density.
The reader should carefully nOle tt).e difference between {P)SGI and (PJ),..,. In the first case, the water conlent
of a partially saturated is inqeased so tha: all the voids are filled with water, whereus in the second case, the
water content is kepi oonsLant and the air voids are removed by compaction so tlwt all tbe remaining voids are
saturated with water. lbe Jailer condition is only hypothetical as it is not fcasibfe 10 remove all the air voids.
Equations In terms or Weight Units
.Eqs. 2.32 to 2.37 can be written in terms of unit weighls as under.

Eq. 2.32 becomes . ..[2.32(a)1

Eq. 2.33 becomes .. .\2.33(a)1

(G - I)r.
Eq. 2.34 becomes 'tlub-~ . .. [2.34(a)[

Eq. 2.35 becomes

Gr. . .. [2.35(a)[
'td - 1 + (MIlS)

Eq. 2.36 beaxnes 'td-~ .[2.36(0)1

Eq. 2.37 becomes ('td)'<6 - 1 ~ 't:«, ... [2.37(a)1

In the study o[ compaction of soils (Chapter 14), a relationship between the dry mass density and the
percentage air voids is required. The relationship can be developed from the 3·phase diagram shown in
Fig. 2.8 (a).

ill t"·, 1111 (0)

v ..
Fig. 2.8. Three-phase diagram

V, + V ... + V"

Bul v-n" CEq. 2.6)


(1 - n,,) .. ~ + .f
(1 _ n,,) .. M, /~GP ...) + M",:pw
_ k. + (wM,)/pw
Gp,., V

... (2.38)

When the soil becomes fully saturated at a given water rootent, II" - 0, and Eq. (2.38) can be written as

(Pd)". - 0 - 1 ~P:o
A little refieaioo win show that (Pd)/I~ _ 0 and (P.d.... represent the same oondil ion.
In lenns of unit weights Eq. 2.38 becomes [Fig. 2.8 (b)]
(1 - a.)Gy.
Yd - - - 1-.-e- . .. [2.38 (a)]
Table 2.2 gives a summary of the various relationships. The reader should make these equations as a pan
of his soil engineering vocabulary.
Thble 2.2. Dasic Relationships

S. No. Eq. No. Relatiollship in Mass Density Relationship in Ullil weigh/

1. 2.3 n ... ef(l + e) " ... eI(1 +e)
2. 2.4 e ... n/(1 - 1/) e ... n/(I-II)
3. 2.8
4. 2.21 (0 +Se) pw (0+&)1'"
p.. I +e 'I" 1 +e
Pd-~ Yd-~
1 "
6. 2.23 (G+e)pw (0 +e)y...
p,...... 1 +e ,/Id---
1 +<
7. 2.24 .~
p... 1 +e ,---
, (0-1)'1'"
8. 230 e ... wG/S e .. wG/S
9. 2.36 pol ... p/(l + w) Yd " y/(l + w)
10. 238 (l-a.IGe_ ~
pJ- 1+..0 'Id" I +WG

(Note. p...... 1(0) kg/m 3 _ 1.0 glml. ,/",'" 9810 N/m2 ... 9.81 kN/mJ _ 10 kN/mll
The waler content of 8 soil is an important parameter that controls its behaviour. It is a quantitative
measure of the wetness of a soil mass. 'Ibe water content of a soil can be determine<! to a high degree of
precision, as it involves only mass which can be determined more accurately than volumes. The water oonlent
of soil is determined as a routine matter in most of the other tests.
The water content of a soil sample can be determined by anyone of the following methods:
(1) Oven Drying method (2) Torsioo Balance method (3) Pycnometer method
(4) Sand Bath method (5) Alcohol method (6) Ca lcium Carbide method
(7) Radiation method.
(1) Oven Drying method. Tbe oven drying method is a sUlndard, laboratory method. lbis is a very
accurate melhod.

The soil sample is taken in a smaU. non-corridible, ainighl container. The mass of the sample and that of
the container are obtained using an aex:urate weighing balance. According to IS : 2720 (pan 1I}-1973, the
mass of the sample should be taken to an accuracy of 0.04 per cent. The quantity of the sample to be taken
for the test depends upon the gradation and the maximum size of the panicles and the degree of wetness of
the soil. The drier the soil. tbe more shall be the quantity of the specimen. Table 2.3 gives the minimum
quantity of soil specimen to be taken for the test.
The soil sample in the container is then dried in an oven at a temperature of 110° ::t SoC for 24 hams.
The temperature range selected is suitable for most of the soils. The temperature lower than 110° ::t 5°C may
not cause oomplete evaporation of water and a temperature higher than this temperature may c.'1use the
breaking down of the crystalline structure of the soil panicles and laiS of chemic.'111y bound. st ructural water.
However, oven-drying at 110° ::t 5°C does not give reliable resulLS for soils oontaining gypsum or other
minerals having loooely bound waler of hydration. This temperature is aL~ not suitable for soils containing
significant amount of organic matter. for all such soils, a temperature of 60° to 80°C is recommended. At
higher tempcraturt; gypsum loses its waler of crystaUine and the organic soils tend to decompose and get
'lhble 2.3. Minimum Quantity of Soil for Water Content Detenninatlon
S. No. Size of Particles more tilan 90% passing Millimum Qualltity (gm)
l. 425--micron IS sieve 25
, 2.
2mm IS sieve
4.75 mmlSsieve

4. lOmm IS sieve 300

s. 20 rom IS sieve SOO
6. 40 mm IS sieve 1000

The drying pcriod of 24 hours has been rccommemled for normal soils, as it has been found that this
period is sufficient to cause complete evaporation of water. lbc sample is dried till it attains a constant mass.
The soil may be deemed to be dry when the difference in successive wcighings of the cooled sample docs
nol exceed about 0.1 percent of the original mass. The soils oontaining gypsum and organic matter may
require drying for a period longer Ihan 24 hours.
The water content of the soil sample is caiCUl.1tcd from the following equation.
w .. ~_M2-MJ)(lOO ... (2.39)
M, M)-MI
where M 1 - mass of container, with lid
M2 - mass of container, lid and wet soil
M) - mass of container, lid and dry soil
The water content of the soil is reponed to two Significant figures.
(Refer to Chapter 30, Sect. 30.1 for the laboratory experiment)
(2) Torsion Balance Method. lbe infra-red lamp and torsion balance moisture meter is used for rapid
and accurate determination of the water content. The equipment has two main parts: (I) the infra-red lamp,
and (il) the torsion balance. The infra-red mdiation is provided by a 250 W t.1mp built in the torsion balance
for use with an alternating current 220--230 V, 50 cycles, single- phase main supply (IS : 2720 (part
As the moisture meter is generally calibrated for 25 gm of soil, the maximum size of particle in the
specimen shall be k!ss than 2 mm. The sample is kept in a suitable container so that its water content is not
affected by ambient cooclitions. lbe torque is applied to one end of the torsion wire by means of a calibrated
drum to balance the loss of weight of the sample as it dries out under infrared lamp. A thermometer is

provided for recording the drying temperature which is kept at 110° :!: SoC. Provision is made to adjust Ihc
input vOltage to the infra·red lamp to conlrol the beat for drying of the specimen.
The weighing mechanism, known as a torsion balance, has a built· in magnetic damper which reduces
pan vibration<> for quick drying. TIle balance scale (drum) is divided in terms of moisture content (m') based
on wet mass. lbe water mnlent (w), based on the dry mass, can be determined from the value of m' as under.

From Eq. 2.10, m'_~_~

M M, +M",

~ _ Ms ;wM
", _ ~ + 1

w.--L ... [2.40(0)]

1 - m'
If wand m' are expressed as percentage,

w - IOC,n~ m' )( 100 ... [2.4O(b)]

The time required for the test depends upon the type of the soil and the quantity of water present. It takes
about 15 to 30 minutes. Since drying and weighing occur Simultaneously, the method is useful for soils which
quickly rc.absorb moisture after drying.
(3) Pycnomeler melhod. A pycnometer is a glass jar of about I litre capacity and filled with a brass
conic.Ji cap by means of a SCf'C\HYPC cover (Fig. 2.9). The cap has a smaU hole of 6 mm diameter at its
apex. A rubber or fibre washer is placed between the cap and
the jar to prevent leakage. There is a mark on Ibe cap and
also on the jar. The cap is screwed down to the same mark
such thai the volume of the pycnometer used in calculations ...-Brass top

remains constant. The pycnometer method for the
determination of water content can be used only if the - type c.over
specific gravity of solid (G) particles is known.
A sample of we' soil, about 200 to 400 g, is taken in the
pyalOmeter and weighed. Water is then added to the soil in
the pycnometer to make it about hllif full. The mntents are
GlilSS jar
thoroughly mixed using a glass rod to remove the entrapped
air. More and more water is added and stirring process
continued till (he pycnometer is fiUed flush with the hole in
the conical cap. The pycnometer is wiped dry and weighed.
The pycnometer is then completely emptied. It is washed
thoroughly and filled with water, flush with the lOp hole. 1bc
pycnometer is wiped dry and weighed. Fig. 2.9 PyCllomelcr.
Let MI - mass of pycnom<aer
M2 - mass of pycnometer + wet soil
M) - mass of pycnometer + wet soil + water
M4 - mass of pycnometer filled with water only.
Obviously, the mass M4 is equal to mass M) minus the mass of solids Ms plus the mass of an equal
volume of water (see Fig. 2.10).

Thus M,
M4 - M) - Ms + (G P...) . P...

M4 - M)- Ms + ~

Fig. 2.10. Pycnometer Method Derivation.

- M, - M, ( I - b)
or Mz - eM) - M4 ) • ( G ~ 1)
Now, mass of wet soil = M2 - Mi

Therefore. mass of water M.., - (M2 - M i ) - (M j - M.) ( G~I )

From Eq. 2.9. w - it )( 100

_ [(M, - M (Q.::..!.)
(M,-M,) G
I)_ I] x 100 ... (2.41)

This method for the detcnnination of the water OJOtCDt is quite suitable for roarse-grained soils from
which (he entrapped air can be easily removed. If a vacuum pump is available, the PYOlometcr can be
connected 10 II for about 10 to 20 minutes to remove the entrapped air. 11lc rubber tUbing of the pump shoukl
be held tightly with the pYOlometcr 10 preveDt leakage.
(Refer to Dlapter 30. Sect. 30.2 for the laboratory experimcot)
(4) Sand Bath Method. Sand balh method is a field method for the determination of water content. The
method is ropid, but not very accurate. A sand bath is a large, open vessel oontaining sand filled to a depth
of 3 em or more.
The soil sample is taken in a troy. The sample is crumbled and placed loosely in the tray. A few pieces
of white paper are also placed on the sample. The tray is weighed and the mass of wet sample i£ obtained.
The tray is then placed on the sand-bath. The sand bath is heated over a stove. Drying takes about .20 to
60 minutes, depending upon the type of soil. During heating, the specimen is tumed with a palette knife.
Overheating of soil should be avoided. The white paper turns brown when overheating occurs. The drying
should be continued till the sample attains a constant mass. When drying is oomplete, the tray is removed
from the sand bath. cooled and weighed. ]be water content is determined using Eq. 239.
(5) Alcohol Method. The soil sample is taken in an evaporating dish. urge lumps of soil, if any. should be
broken and crumbled. The mass of the wet sample is taken. The sample is then mixed with methylated spirit
(alcohol). The quantity of methylated spirit required is about one millilitre for every gram of soil. The
methylated spirit and the soil should be turned several times, with a palette knife, to make the mixture uniform.
The methylated spirit is then ignited. The mixture is stirred with a spatula or a knife when ignition ~
talciog place. After the methylated spirit bas bumt away completely, the dish 'is allowed 10 be cooled, and the
mass of the dry soil obtained. 1bc metbod takes about 10 minutes.
Methylated spirit is extremely volatile. Care shall be taken to prevent fire. 1be method cannot be used if
the soil contains a large proportion of clay, organic maller, gypsum or any other caJcareous materiaL The
method is quite rapid, but not very accurate.

(6) Calcium Cllrbide Method. This method of the dctcnninalion of water contenl makes use of the fact
that when water reacts wiLh calcium carbide (c., C:z). acetylene gas (Cz Hi) L<.; produced.
Cay + 2H 20 - CzH 2 + Ca (Ollh
The water rooteol of the soil is determined indirectly from the pr<ssure of the acetylene gas formed. 1be
instrument used is known as moisture tester.
TIle wei soil sample is plared in a sealed container containing calcium carbide. lbc samples of sand
require no special prepamtion. 'me soil sample is ground and pulverised. However, cohesive and plastic soils
are tested after addition of steel balls in the pressure vessels. The test requires about 6 g of soil.
The pressure of the acctylene gas produced acts on the diaphragm of the moisture tesler. The quantity of
gas is indicated on a pff$Ure gauge. From the calibrntcd scale of the pressure gauge, the water oontent (m') based
on the total mass is determined. The water content (w) b..'tSed on the dry mass is dctennined using Eq. 2.40 (a).
~ calcium carbide is highly susceptible to absorption of moisture. il should not be exposed 10
atmosphere. lbc lid of the container should be finnly fixed.
(7) Radiation Method. Radio-active isotopes are used for the determination of water content of soits. A
device containing a radio-active isotopes material. such as cobalt 60, is pL.'l.cOO in a capsule. It is then lowered

- SO,tt
51 pet casing Stezezl cdsing
A 8

caps-ute Hydrog~n aloms of, ' Oetector

, waiN in soil -

Fig.2. 1l .
in a steel casing A, placed in a bore hole as shown in Fig. 2.11. The steel casing has a small opening on its
one side through which rays can come out. A detector is placed inside another steel casing B, which also has
an opening facing that in casing A.
Neutrons are emitted by the radio-active material. The hydrogen atoms in water of the soil cause
scattering of neutrons. As these neutrons strike with the hydrogen atoms,they lose energy. The loss of energy
is proportional to 'he quantity of water present in the soil. The detector is calibrated to givc directly the water
The mcthod is extremely useful for tbe determination of water cootcnl of a soil in the in-situ conditions.
The methcx:l should be very carefully used, as it m3Y lead to radiation problems if proper shielding
precautions are not taken.
The specific gravity of solid particles is determined in the laboratory using the following mcthods:
(1) Density boule method (2) Pycnometer method (3) Measuring flask mcthod
(4) Ga<> jar mcthod (5) Shrinkage limit mcthod.
The last method of determining thc specific gravity of solid particles from thc shrinkage limit is
discussed in Sect. 4.6.

(I) Density Bottle Method. TIle specific gravity of solid particles can be
determined in a laboratory using a density botlle filled with a stopper having a hole
(Fig. 2.12). The density bottle of 50 ml capacity is generally used [IS : 2720 (Pan
II) 1980].
The density bottle is cleaned and dried at a temperature of 105° to 110°C and
cooled. 'The mass of the bottle. including that of stopper. is taken. About 5·10 g of
oven dry sample of soil is taken in the bottle and weighed. If the sample contains
particles of large size, it shall be ground to pass a 2·mm sieve before the test.
Distilled water is then added to cover the sample. The soil is allowed to soak
water for about 2 hOurs. More water is added until the bottle is half full. Air
entrapped in the soil is expelled by applying a V3aJum pressure of about 55 em of
mercury for about one hour in a vacuum dcssicalor. Alternatively. the entrapped air
can be removed by genqe heating. More water is added to the bottle to make it full.
111e slopper is inserted in the bottle and its mass is taken. The temperature is also
The bottle is emptied. washed and then refilled with di'itilled water. The bottle Fig. 212 Density bottle.
must be filled to the; same mark as in the previous case. The mass of the botLle filled with water is taken. The
temperature should be the same as before.
Let MI .. massofemptybottle

M2 - mass of bottle and dry soil

M) _ mass of bottle, soil and water
M4 - mass of bottle filled with water.
If the mass of solids M. is subtracted from M) and replaced by the mass of walcr equal to the volume of
solid. the mass M4 is obtained.

Thus M4 - M) - MI + aM. (P...)

M. ( 1 - h) - M) - M4

8uI M. -M2 -Ml

Therefore (M, - M,) ( 1 - ~) _ M, - M.

~ (M, - M,) _ (M, - M,) - (M, - M.)

G- M2 -Mj ... (2.42)

(M2 - M I) - (M) - M 4 )

Alternatively, 0- M, ... [2.42(a))

M. +M4 M)
Eq. 2.42 gives the specific gravity of solids at the temperature at which the test was condUdcd.
SpecifiC gravity of solids is generally reported at 2-rC (IS: 2720-11) or at 4°C. The speciHc gravity al
27°C and 4"C can be dc!con ined from thc following equations.
G _ G )( specific gravity of water al tOC
... (2.43)
TI , specific gravity of watcr at 27°C
and G4 - G,)( specificgravityofw3leratl°C ... (2.44)
where Gv =sp sr. of particles at 27", G4 =sp. gr. of partiCles at 4°C, G, =sp. gr. of particles al t"C

Table 2.4 give.,> the specific gravity of water al different temperatures.

The specific gravity of solids is reported as the average of the two tests, to the nearest 0,01. provided the
difference between lhe lwO lests docs not differ by 0.03.
Kerosene is a better wetting agent than water and is sometimes used in place of water. If Gk is the
specific gravity oC kerosene at the test temperature. Eq. 2.42 becomes
G. (M, - MdG.
. .. (2.45)
(M, - M I ) - (M, - M,)

Table 2.4. Specific Gravity of Water

l"C sp. gf. I·e sp. gr. I·C sp. gr. I"C sp. gr.
1 0.9999 11 0.99% 21 0.9980 31 0.9954
2 0.9999 12 0.9995 22 0.9978 32 0.9951
3 1.0000 13 0.9994 23 0.9976 33 0.9947
4 1.0000 14 0.9993 24 0.9973 3. 0.9944
5 1.0000 15 0.9991 25 0.9971 35 0.9941
6 1.0000 16 0.9990 26 0.9968 36 0.9937
7 0.9999 17 0.9988 27 0.9965 37 0.9934
•• 0.9999
10 0.9997 20 0.9982 30 0.9957 40 0.9922

Sometimes, other liquids, such as paramo, alcohol and benzene. arc also used.
Density bottle method is suitable for fine-grained soils, with more than 90% passing 2 mm-IS sieve.
However the method can also be used for medium and coarse-grained soils if they are pulverised such that
the particles pass 2 mm-IS sieve.
(See Chapter 30, Sect. 30.3 for the laboratory experiment).
(2) Pycnometer Method. The method is similar to the density boute method. As the capacity of the
pYOlometer is larger, about 200-300 g of oven-dry soil is required for the test. The method can be used for
all types of soils, bul is more suitable for medium-grained soils, with morc than 90% passing a 20 mm IS
sieve and for ~rse-grained soils with more Ihan 90% passing a 40 mm IS sieve.
(See Chapter 30, Sect. 30.4 for the laboratory experiment).
(3) Measuring Flask Method. A mea'iuring nask is of 250 ml (or 500 ml) capacity. with a graduation
mark at Ihat leveL It is fitted with an adaptor for connecting it to a vacuum line for removing entrapped air.
The method is similar 10 the density bottle method. About 80--100 g of oven dry soil is required in Ihis case.
The method is suitable for fine-grained and medium grained1soits.
Rubber bung
(4) Gus Jar Method. In this method. a ga.. jar of about I litre
capacity is used. The jar is fitled with a rubber bung (Fig. 2.13). The
gas jar serves as a pycnometer. The method is similar to the pycnometer
, LItre
The bulk mass density of a soil sample, as per Eq. 2.11, is the·mass
per unit volume. Allhough lhe mass of a soil sample can be determined Soil
to a high degree of precision, it is rather difficult to determine the
volume of the sample accurately. The methods discussed below
basically differ in the prOCedure for the measurement of the volume.
Once the bulk mass density has been detennincd. the dry mass density
is found using Eq. 2.36. Thus Fig. 2.13. Gas Jar.

p • M- and
The volume of the specimen used in various tcsts can be computed from the measured dimensions. as
Ihey have regular shapes, such as a cylinder or a cube. Ilowever, precise measurements arc not possible. If
the sample is made in a container of known dimensions. much more accurate measurements arc possible.
The following methods are genemlly used for the detennination of mass density.
(1) Water Displacement Method (2) Submerged mass density Method
(3) Core Cutler Method (4) Smld Replacement Method.
(5) Water Balloon Method (6) Radi:ltion Method.
The methods are discussed below. 1lIc first two methods arc laboratory methods and the !'CSt, field
(I) Water Dl~placement Method. The volume of the
specimen js dClcnmned in Ihis method by waler
displacement, As the soil mass disintegrates when it comes
in contact with water, the sample is cooted with paraffin
wax to make it impervious. A Icst specimen is trimmed to
more or less a regular shape and weighed. It is then coated Valva
with a trun lay.er of .paraffin wax by dipping it. in molten ~
wax. The specimen IS allowed to cool and weighed. 1llc Mtasurrng . =-
difference between the two observations is equal 10 the
mass of the paraffin.
'llie waxed specimen is then immersed in a water-
displacement container shown in Fig. 2.14. Thc volume of
the specimen is equal 10 the volume of WOlter which comes
out of the outflow lube. The actual volume of the soil
specimen is less th3I1 the volume of the waxed specimen. Fig. 2.14. WIlICr di~placemcnl cont.,incr.
The volume of the wax is determined from the mass of the wax peeled orr from the specimen afler the test
and the mass density of wax.

Now V _ V, _ (Al, - M) ... (2.46)

where V = volume of specimen, V, = volume of waxed specimen,
M, = mass of waxed specimen, M = mass of specimen,
Pp = mass density of paraffin (approximately 0.998 gm/ml).
A representative sample of the soil is laken from the middle of specimen for the walcr content detennination.
Once the mass, volume and the water content of the specimen have been determined, the bulk density
and the dry density arc found from Eqs. 2.11 and 2.36, respectively.
(See Chapter 30, Sect. 30.7 for the laboratory experiment).
(2) Submerged Muss Den~ity method. lltis method is ba<>ed on Archimedes' principle that when a body
is submerged in water, the reduction in mass is equal to the mass of the volume of water displaced. The
sample is first trimmed and weighed and then it is immersed in moiten wax and again weighed, as in tbe
water displacement method.
The specimen is then placed in the cmdlc of special type balance. The cradle dips in the water contained
in Ibe bucket placed just below. Tne npparent mnss of the waxed specimen in water is delennincd.
The volume of the specimen is determined as below:
V .. (101, - 101 1) _ (M, - M)
... (2.47)
P..· Pp
where M, = mass of waxed speCimen. M = mass of specimen,

M 1 = mass of waxed specimen in water, Pp = mass density of wUJt,

p... = mass density of water.
Eq. 2.47 can be derived, using Archimedes' principle.
Ml - M, - U - M, - VIP...
V, _ M, - M\
Substituting this value V, in Eq. 2.46. we gel Eq. 2.47.
This method is suitable for finc-gruincd soils.
(3) Core Cutler Method. It is a field method for determination of mass density. A core cutter consists
of an open, cylindrical barrel, with a hardened, sharp cutting edge (Fig. 2.15). A dolly is placed over the
cutter and it is rammed into the soil. lne dolly is required to prevent burring of the edges of the cutter. 1nc
cutter containing the soil is taken oul of the ground. Any
soil extruding above the edges of the culler is removed. The
mass of the cutter filled with soil is taken. A representative
sample is taken for water content dctermin.'llion.
lbc volume of the soil is equal to the internal volume
of the cutter, whidl can be detcnnincd from the dimensions r-----' ~lmm---..,.j
of tbe cutter or by filling the cutler with water ~nd finding

the mass of water. I
Bulk mass density,
where M 2 :: mass of culter, with soil,
... (2.41)
Cutter __
13 0 rr.m
M I = mass of empty cutter, I
V:: intCITh'l1 volume of cutter.
lhe method is quite suitable for son, fine grnined soils.
It cannot be used for stoney, graven), soils. The method is
practicable only at the places where the surface of the soil
is exposed and the cutter con be easily driven.
(See Chapter 30, Sect. 30.5 for the experiment). Fig. 2.15. Core.Culler with dolly.
(4) Sand Replacement Method. Fig. 2.16 shows a sand-pouring cylinder, which has a pouring cone at
its base. TIle cylinder shown is placed with its base at the ground level. There is a shutter between the
cylinder and the rone. The cylinder is firsl calibrated to delennine the mass density of sand. For good results,
the $and used should be uniform, dry and clean, passing a 600 micron sieve and rctuined on a 300 micron
(0) Callbrntlon of appurotus-The cylinder is filled with sand and weighed. A calibrating oontainer is
then placed below the pouring cylinder and the shutler is opened. The sand fills the calibrating container and
the cone. The shutter is closed, and the mass of the cylinder is again laken. lbe ma5S of Ihe sand in the
container and the cone is equal to the dirl'crencc or the two observations.
The pouring cylinder is again filled 10 the initial mass. The sand is allowed 10 run 001 of the cylinder,
equal to the volume of the calibrating cootaincr and the shutler is closed. The cylinder is then placed over a
pt.!in surface and the shutler is opened. 'Ihe sand runs Oul of the cylinder and fills the cone. The shutler is
closed when no further :novement of sand takcs place. 1nc t.)'linder is removed and the sand filling the rone
is collected and weighed (Mi).
"he mass density of the sand is dctennincd as under:
All - M2 -M)
P. .. V ... (2.49)
where M 1 = initial mass of cylinder with sand,

M2 = mass of sand in cone only,

M3 = mass of cylinder after pouring sand into the cone
and the container,
Vc = Volume of the container.
Note. Mass of sand in both the oontainer and cone is M I - M3-
(b) Measurement or Volume or lIole-A tray with a central
hole is placed on the preparoo ground surface which has been
cleaned and properly levelled. A hole about tOO mm diameter and
150 mm deep is excavated in the ground, using the hole in the tray
as a pattern. The soil removed is carefully collected and weighed.
The sand pouring cylinder is then placed over the excavated
hole as shown in Fig. 2.16. The shutler is opened and the sand is
filled in the cone and Ihe hole. When the sand Slops running out, the
shutler is closed. Tbc cylinder is removed and weighed. 111c volume
of the hole is determined from Ihe mass of sand filled in the hole
and the unit mass density of sand.

Volume of hole .. M I - M. - M2 ...(2.50)

where M I = massof cylinder and sand before pouring into
the hole,
M2 = mass of sand in cone only,
M. = mass of cylinder after pouring sand into the hole,
P, = mass density of sand, as found from calibration.
The bulk mao;s density of the in-situ soil is determined from the
mass of soil excavated and the volume of the hole. Fig. 2.16. Sand Replacement method.
The method is widely used for soils of various particle sizes, from fine-grained to coa~grained. For
accurate results, the height of sand column in the cylinder is kept approximately the same as that in the
calibration test. The depth of the hole should also be equal to the depth of
calibrating container.
(See Chapter 30, Sect. 30.6 for the experiment).
Hand pump
5. Rubber Balloon Method. The volume of the hole in this method is
determined using a rubber balloon' or by filling water in the hole after
covering it with a pl...1Stic sheet. The rubber balloon method is explained
The apparatus consists of a density plate and a graduated cylinder,
made of lucite, encloocd in an airtight aluminium case (Fig. 2.17). 11te
cylinder is partly filled with water. There is an opening in the bottom of
the case, which is sealed by a rubber balloon. The balloon can be pulled
up into the cylinder or may be pushed down through the bottom. A pump
is attached to the cylinder for this purpose. When the pressure is applied, ba,lloon
balloon comes out the aluminium case through the hole in the density pial!!:
piate. When a vacuum is applied, the balloon is pulled up into the cylinder.
For determination of the volume of the hole. the density plate is
placed on the levelled ground. The cylinder is then placed over the plate. Holf. in
The pressure is applied to the balloon. The balloon deflates against the ground
surface of the soil. The .volume of water in the cylinder is ooserved.
The cylinder is removed from the base plate. 1be soil is taken out

from the hole through the opening in the base plate. All loose material is removed. llle soil removed is
collected and weighed. The cylinder is <lg:lin pl:K:oo over thc opening in thc plate and pressure is applied to
the balloon till it fills the holc. lhe volumc of Wolter in the cylinder is observed. '[be volume of thc hole is
fou:1.d from the initial and finnl observntion of wmer volume.
The method is general and is suit:Jble for t:1I types of soils. However, it is not so accurate, as it is difficult
to fit thc balloon eXrlctly in an irregular hole.
rs : 2720 (Part XXXIV)-1972 describes the method in detail.
(6) Radiation Method. The bulk mass density of in-situ soil can be determined ~ing the radiation
method. The meter consists of twO probes, one containing a radio isotope source and the othcr a gamma my
detcctor. 1lle meter is placed on thc surface which had been carefully cleaned and levelled. The probe extends
to a maximum depth of 200 mm to 300 mm into the ground. and, therefore, gives an average mass density
for that depth. The detector record<; the amount of radiation which passes through the soil from lhc probe
attached to the meter when inserted into thc ground. The denser the soil, the greater is the absorption of
gamma rays, and the lc.sscr will be the gamma mys energy at the detector. The method is known as the direct
transmission me/hod
'l1lere is another method, known as the back scalier method. Both the sourcc and the detector are
contained in one probe. The detector records radiations which had been reflected by the soil. The bulk mass
density of the soil is determined from the rndiation roum over a fixed lime period. The mass density obtained
is for the top 40 to 50 mm. '[be method is simpler thrln the direct transmission method, but it requires a
greater source strength.
Radiation methods for determination of the m:lss density of soils are quick and oonvenient and are
gaining popularity. However, precautions must be taken again~ thc mdiatioo ila7.ard.
The void ratio of a soil s.1mp!e is a measure of its den'lcncss. It is one of the important parameters of
soils. Engineering properties of soils depend upon void mtio 10 a large extent. The void mHo is determined in
the labordtory indirectly from the dry mass density. From I3q. 2.22.
e _ Gp•. _ 1 .. . (2.51)
The methods for determin:ltion of the spccilic gravity of solids G and the dry density Pd have been
discussed in the preceding sections.
For a saturated soil. the void ratio is determined using Eq. 2.31, e .. ~. This method is a very
convenient and accurate method. as the water content of a soil can be determined quite easily and acaJrnlcly.
The specific gravity of soil (G) can also be determined in the laboratory.
Once the void mlio hns been detennined. other volumetric relationships such as porosity and degree of
saturation can be determined using Eqs. 2.3 and 2.30, respectively.
Percentage air voids are determined indirectly, using Eq. 2.38,

n" .. I - :;'" (1 + ~) ... (2.52)

Eq. 2.52 can be reduced to the following form
. PJw
n,,_I1 _ _ ... (2.53)
Ibis is len as an exercise for the r~uJers.
Table 2.5 gives typical values of void ' rl.ltio, porosity. dry density. and dry unit weight of dilTerent soils
in loosest and densest conditions.

Thble 2.5. lypical Values or Void Ratio lind Dry Denl;ily lind Dry Unll'i: Weights
S.No. Soil type Slale oj soil Void PorosilY Dry defLSity Dry unit weight
Ratio ('!o) (kglm ) (kNlm )
Gravel """",,

2. Coarse sand.

Medium sand Densest 035 2. 1900 I.
3. Unifonn, fine """",, 0.85 40 1400 14

Coorse silt

S. Fine silt
1800 I.
1300 13
IIDrcicsl 0.4 29 1900 I.
O. Lean Clay Softest 1.20 55 1300 13
IIDrdCSI OAO 29 1900 I.
7. fm clay Sortesl 2.20 69 1000 10
Ilnrd(.'$l OAO 29 2000

1II1J.~lruti't'e EXlIIIlpie 2 .1. 71u: mass of a clwnk of moist soil is 20 kg, and its volume is 0.011 ml. After
drying in an oven, the mass reduces 10 16.5 kg. Determine the water content, the density of moist soil, tile
dry density. void rario, porosity and the degree of saluration. Take G = 2.70.
Solulion. Mass or water. AI... = 20.0 - 16.50 = 3.50 kg

F'rom Eq. 2.9, water content, w .. ;6~5~ .. 0.2121 (21.21%)

F'rom Eq. 2.11, the wet mass dt~nsity p .. O.~ 1 .. 1818.18 kg/Oil

From Eq. 2.12, the dry density, Pd .. ~.~~l .. 1500.0 kg/OIl

From Eq. 2.22. l+e .. ""
or e .. 2.701;~OOO _ I .. 0.80

From Eq. 2.3, n .. ~ .. ~:: .. 0.444(44.44%)

From Eq. 2.30, S .. ~ .. O.212~.;' 2.70 .. 0.7158 (71.58%)

IIIustratl't'e Example 2.2. A ~Qil specimen has a water content of }O% and a wet unit weighl of 20
kN/nl If the specific gravity oj solids is 2.70, determine the dry unit weight, void ratio, and the degree of
samra/;OIL Take 't ... = 10 /eN/m .

Solution. From Eq. 236 (a), 'td - ~ - 1 ;° . .. 18.18 kN/m.l


From Eq. 2.22 (a), 1 + e _ G 't"" .. 2.70 x 10 .. 1.49 or e _ 0.49

Yd 18.18

From Eq. 230, S - 7- 0.1 0~4~·70 - 0.551 (55.1 %)


Illustrative Example 2.3. A sample of dry soil 'Weighs 68 gm. Find the volum~ of voids if t.he tOla
volume of the sample is 40 ml and the specific gravity of Solids is 2.65. Also determine the void ratio.

Solution. From Eq. 2.12, Pd .. *" . ~ . 1.70 gm/ml

Volume of solids, M, 68
V~ .. Gp", .. ~ .. 2S.66ml
Volume of voids, V~ .. V - V, .. 40.00 - 25.66 .. 14.34 ml

From Eq. 2.1,

Illustrative E1UIrnple 2.4. A moist soil sample weighs 3.52 N. After drying in an oven, its weight is
redl~ced to 2.9 N. The specific gravity o/solids and the mass specific gravity are, respectively, 2.65 and 1.85.
Determine the water content, void ralio, porosity and the degree of saLUration. Take "t ... = 10 leN/mJ,
Solution. Weight of water = 3.52-2.90 = 0.62 N
From Eq. 2.9, w<l!cr content, w .. ~~ .. 0.2138 (21.38%)

From Eq. 2.19, 'I .. Gm y", .. 1..85 )( 10 .. 18.5 IcN/m l

From Eq. 2.36 a,
Yd .. Ifw .. 1 + 1~';138 .. 1524 kN/ ml
From Eq. 2.22 a, I + e .. Gy", .. 2.65 x 10 .. 1.74
Yd 15.24
e .. 0.74
From Eq. 23, n .. ~ .. 1 ~'~74 .. 0.4253 (42.53%)

From Eq. 2.30, S. 7 _0.21~7: 2.65 _ 0.7656(76.56%)

illustrative Example 2.5. A soil has a porosity of 40%, the SpecIfIC gravity of solids of 2.65 and a WQter
content of 12%. Determine the mass of water reqllired to be added to 100 m) o/tltis .foil for /ull saturation.
Solution. Let us take unit volume of solids, i.e. V, .. 1.0 ml.
Mass of solids., M, .. G P ..... 2.65 x 1000 .. 2650 kg
From Eq. 2.9, mass of water, M", .. 0.12 x 2650 .. 318 kg
Volume of water .. 13~ .. 0.318m l

From Eq. 2.4,

e .. l:n" 1.00~~.40" 0.667
From Eq. 2.1, volume of voids, V~ .. e V, .. 0.667 l( 1.0 .. 0.667013
Therefore, volume of air, .. 0.667 _ 0318 .. 0.349ml
Volume of additiOllal water for full saturation = 0.349 ml
Total volume of soi~ V .. V, + Vv .. 1.0 + 0.667 .. 1.667 01 3

Volume of water required for 100 013 of soil .. ~:!:~ x 100 .. 20.94 013
Mass of water required = 20940 kg.
Illustrative Example
1 2.6. A sample 0/ saturated soil has a water content of 25 percent and a bulle unit
weight of 20 kN/m . Determine dry density, void ratio and specific gravity of solid particles.

What would be the bulk uni, weight of the same soil at the same void ratio hut at a degree of saturation
of 80% ? Ta/ce y", = 10 leN/mJ.

Solution. From Eq. 2.33 (a), 'is" ... 1 ~ Y::v (1 + w)

20 ... G ; ;oo.~ +)( 0(,25) or G .. 2.67

From Eq. 2.30, laking S = 1.0, e ... M-G _ 0.25 )( 2.67 .. 0.67

From Eq. 2.22 (a~ Yd'" IG ;"'e . . 2i6: ~.;~ .. 15.99 kN/m

In the scoond case, as e :; 0.67 and S = 0.80, Eq. 2.21 (a) gives

y ... (G 1++S:h w _ (2.67 + ~.~ ~.~;,67) )C 10 .. 19.20 kN/mJ

lIIustrallve EXllmple 2.7. A sample of clay was coated wl'tll paraffin wax and its mass, including the
mass of wax, was found to be 697.5 gm. The sample was immersed in water and the volume of the water
displaced was found to be 355 1111. The mass of the sample wit/JO/d wax was 690.0 gill, and the water content
of the representative specimen was 18%.
Determine the bllik densil){ dry density, void ratio and the degree of saturation. The specific gravity of .
the solids WQS 2.70 and that of tite wax was 0.89. .
Solution. Mass of wax ... 697,5 - 690,0 ... 7.5 gm

VOlume of wax ... O.~~O 1.0 ... 8.43 ml

Volume of soil ... 355.0 - 8.43 ... 346.57 mt

Bulk density ... ~:!7 .. 1.99 gm/ml

From Eq. 2.36, dry density ... 1 !'~18 ... 1.69 gm/ml

From Eq. 2.22, 1+ e ... 27~,:9t.O ... 1.60 Of e ... 0.60

From Eq. 2.30, S _ ~ _ O.l80.~2.70 _ 0.81 (81%)

illustrative Example 2.8. (a) During a lesl for water content determination on a soil sample by
pycnometer, the following observations were recorded
(1) Mass of wet soil sample = 1000 gm
(2) Mass of pycnometer with soil and filled with water ·2000 gm
(3) Mass of pycnometer filled with water only = 1480 gm
(4) Specific gravity of solids ·2.67
Determine the water content.
(b) If the b/Jlk density of the soil is 2.05 gm/ml, determine the degree of saturation.

Solution. (a) From Eq. 2.41, w - [

(M3 _ M4 ) '
----a- - 1
1)( 100
_ 1480) x (2.67-1.0)
- [ (20001000 ~ - 1 1x 100 - 20'·

(b) From &j. 2.36. Pol - t!-;;. 1 +20~02.8 .. 1.70gm/ ml

From Eq. 2.22, 1 + e .. 2.6~.;O 1.0 .. 1.57 or t! .. 0.57

Now 5 ,., ~ '" O.20~.5; 2.67 .. 0.950 .. 95.0%

IIhl!drnCive Exumple 2.9. The mass of an empty gas jQl' was 0.498 kg. Wilen completely filled with water,
its mass was 1.528 kg. An oven-dried sample of soil of IIIOSS 0.198 kg was placed in the jar and water was
added to fif/the jar and irs mass was found to be 1.653 kg. Determine the specific gravity of panicles.
M2 - M[
Solulloo. From Eq. 2.42, G .. (M -M ) (M) M )
2 I 4

or G - 0.198 (~:~~~ 1.528) - 2.71

IIIustruUve Exumple 2.10. In a compaction test on a soil, the 1II1ISS of wei soil when compacted in the
mould was 1.855 kg. The water content of the soil was 16%. If the VQ11III/c of the /IIould was 0.945 litres,
determine the dry density, void ratio, degree of samra/ion and percentage air voids. Take G '" 2.68.

Solution. Bulk density p '" 0.94~·~510::J - 1962.96kg/ m)

From Eq. 236. Pd .. ~ - /~~~6 - 1692.21 kg/ m


From Eq. 2.22. 1+ e - 2.~69;.~~ .. 1.584 or e .. 0.584

From Eq. 2.30, S .. "'~ - o. I ~;si·68 _ 0 .7342 _ 73.42%

From Eq. 2.38. p, -
1 + wG
or 1 - nQ _ 1692.21 ;~l x+ l~ )( 2.(8) .. .0.9022

n. - 0.0978 (9.78%)
Illustrative Exumple 2 .U . A compacted cylindrical specimen, 50 111m dia and 100 111111 length, is to be
prepared from oven-dry soil. If the specimen is required to have a waler contenl of 15% and the percentage
air voids of 20%, calClilate the //lass of the soil and water required for the preparation of tlte sample. Take
G = 2.69.
Solution. Let M, be the mass of solids in kg.
Mass of water, .. wM# _ 0.15 M#

Volume of SOUds. V .. ~ .. _ _M_,_ _ .. ~ m)

# G P... 2.69)( 1000 2690

Volume of water, 1.'... _ O'I~' _ 0.15 )( 10-) M, m)

Total volume of sample, V .. x /4 )( (0.05)1 x 0.10 .. 196.35 x 10-4 m 3

From Eq. 2.6, volume of air, VB - 0.20 )( V - 0.2 )( 196.35 )( 10-6 _ 39.27 )( 10-4 m 3

2~ + 0.15 x 10-3 M, + 39.27 x 10-6 _ 196.35 )( 10-6

M, _ 0.301 kg
Mass of water .. 0 .15 x 0.301 _ 0.045 kg
llJustrnUve Example 2.12. A borrow area soil has a lIatural water comem of 10% and a bulk density of
1.80 Mg/l,r. The soil is used for an embankment to be compacted at 18% moisture content to a dry density
of 1.85 Mg/m J• Determine the amount of water to be added to 1.0 m J of borrow soil. flow nJllI1Y cubic metres
of excavation is required for I nl of compacted embankment ?

Solution. Borrow area soil. Pd" ~:~ .. 1.636 glml

Unit weight _ 1.636 )( 9.81 _ 16.05 kN ml

U us consider 1 m1 of borrow soil.
W, z: Dry weighllm) = 16.05 kN
W ... = Weight of water/m = 1.605 kN
In embankment, W...1 " 0.18 )( 16.05 _ 2.889kN
Wnter to be added - 2.889 - 1.605 - 1.284 kN
Weight of dry soil in embnnkment/m _ 1.85 )( 9.81 ,. 18.15 kN
Volume of soil rcquired/m of embankment _ \86.~~ _1.131 m l
Illustrative Example 2.13. There are two borrow areas A and B which have soils with void ratios of 0.80
and 0.70, respectively. The inplace water content is 20%, and 15%, respect;IIC[Y. The fill at the end of
constmction will have a total voillme of 10,000 /II), bulk density of 2 Mg/mJ and a placement water content
of 22%. Determine the volllllle of the soil required to be excavated from both arcas. G = 2.65.
If the cost of excavmion of soil and trlUl.Sportation is Rs. 200/· per 100 nI for area A and Rs. 220/. per
100 mJ for area A, which of the borrow area is more economical?

Solution. Borrow area A. p" == 2~6: ~. ~OO =: 1.47 g/ml (14.44 kN/mJ)
Let us consider I m.l of borrow soil. W, .. Dry weightlm 1 .. 14.44 kN

In embankment. Pd - 1 +2 . .. 1.639 glml ( .. 16.08 kN/m)

0 22
Weight of dry soil per m3 = 16.08 kN
Volume of soil required .. !=:~ . 1.114 m

Cost of soil _ Rs 200/100 )( 1.114 .. Rs 2.23 per m1

Borrow area B. Pd .. 2.~.~ 1.0 .. 1.559 g/ml (15.29 kN/ml)

W, .. dry weight/m 1 .. 15.29 kN

In embankment, weight of dry soil = 16.08 leN
Volume of soil required .. ~ .. 1.052 m1

Cost of soil .. Rs 220/100 x 1.052 .. Rs 2.31 per ml.

Borrow area A is more economical.


A. NumeriCllI
:U. (D) Deline the [elTI1S void ralio, specific gravit), of particles, degree of saturation and dry densit)'.
(b) Develop a relationship between the void rolio, water cootem, specific gravity of particles and the degree of
Z.Z. (0) Describe ovcn.(lrying method for the delenninmion of waler oooten! of a soil sample in a laboratory.
(b) A sample of wei soil has a volume of 0.0192 m and a mass of 32 kg. When the sample is dried oul in an
oven, its mass reduces to 28.S kg. Determine (I) Bulle. density. (il) Wllter rontcnl, (;il) Dry density, (iv)
:I~~~~ dcngty, ([~~:,dl:~6jV~):~;i~;); ~:: ~~:)~~~~·.5~a~~:~;sr,:~ ;4~i~~:~~~~
2.3. (a) A $lmple of saturated soil hOlS a water content of 2."S percent and a bulk unil weight 0£20 kN/m , Determine
the dry unit weight, void ratio and the specific gravity of solids.
(b) What would be the bulk unit weighL of the soil in en) if it is compacted LO the same void ratio but hos I)
degree of saLUration of 90% ? (Ans. 16 kNIm\ 0.667, 2.667 19.60 kNlmll
2.4. A sample of soil has a volume of 65 ml and weighs 0.96 N. After oomplete drying, its weight reduces 10 0.78.'i
N. If the specific gravity of solid particles is 2.65, determine the degree of saturation. [Ans.51%J
2.5. A saturated soil sample has 0. water content of 40%. If the specific gravity of solids is 2.67, dctennine lhe void
ratio, saturated denSity, and submerged density. [An!i. 1.07 i 1807 kg/m l i 807 kg/mll
2.6. (a) Define the terms void ratio, dry density, submerged density and mass specific gravity.
(b) Derive on expression for bulk density in tenTIS of its water content, void ralio, specific gravity of solids and
density ofwatet.
2.7. A partially saturated sample of a soil has a density of 1950 kg/m and a water content of 21%. If the specific
gravity of solids is 2.65, ClIlculate the degree of saturation and void ratio.
If the sample subsequently gets saturoted, determine its saturated density. (Ans. 86%; 0.645 ; 2003 kglmlJ
2.S. A sample of soil has a volume of 1 litre and lL wcight of 17.5 N. The specific gruvity of the solids is 2.68. If
the dry unit weight of the soil is 14.8 leN/ml, determine (a) water content, (b) void ratio, (e) porosity, (d)
saturated unit weight, (e) submerged density and (j) degree of saturation.
[Ans. 18.2% : 0.811 : 44.8% ; 19.28 kN/ml, 9.28 kN/ml and 60.2%1
2.9. A fully saturated day sample has a mass of 130 gm and hos a volume of 64 anl . The sample mass is 105 gm
nfler oven drying. Assuming thaI the volume docs not change during drying, dC1ennine the following; (,)
specific gravity of soil solids. (il) void ratio, (iii) porosity, (iv) dry density.
[Ans. 269 ; 0.64 i 39% and 1.641 gm/cn?]
2.10. Prove thnt the water content (w) of a p3nially saturated soil can be expressed as
1 - (011010)
\I' - (0",/5) _ 1
where Gm "" mass specific gravity, G "" specific gravity of solids and S '" degree of salUralion.
2,11 (a) Prove that the degree of saturation of 8 panially saturtlled soil ClIn be expressed os
S _ ::--''-----;-
where p .. bulk densilY, G .. specific gravity of solids nnd w water content.
(b) A eyliodrical specimen oC soil is 7.50 em long and 3.75 em in diameter and has a mMS of 175 gm. If the
water content is 18 percent and the specific gravity of solids is 2.68, detennine the degree of saluration.
What 'NOuld be the error in the degree of saturation if there has been an error of 1 mm in measuring the length ?
(An&. 96.7%, 4.62%)
1.12. A pycnometer having a mass of 600 gm was used in the following measuremenls of three samples of soil.
Sample No.1 was ovendricdi sample no. 2 wos partially saturated and sample no. 3 was Cully saturated. The
bulk density of the sample no. 2 was 2.05 gmfml.
Sample No. 1 No.2 No.3
Muss of samples (gm) 960 970 1000
Mass of sample + water. pycnometer (gm) 2080 2050 2010

If the mass of pycnometer when filled with water only was 1475 gm, dClermine the specifie gravity of solids.
(b) Also determine the water content and void ratio of samples no. 2 and 3, and the degree of saturation of
sample no. 2. IAns. 2.70; 6.3%, 0.40; 11.70: 0.32 and 41.85%1
2.13. An undisturbed specimen of clay was tested in a laboratory and the following results were obtaine<!.
Wet mass '" 210 gm
Oven dry mass '" 175 gm
Specific gravity of solids '" 2.70
What was the totuJ volume of the original undiswrtx:d spccimcn ns..c;uming that the specimen was 50% !Illturatcd ?
(Ans. 134.8 ml]
2.14. A soil deposit to be used for construction of an eanh embankment has an average dry density of 1.62 gmJmI . If
the compacted embankment is to havc an average dry densi ty of 1.72 gmlmI, determine the volume of soil to
be ex:cavated for 1000 m) of embankment. The water content of the soil in the bonow pit is 10%.
lAos. 1.06] x 10) mll
2.15. Determine the specific gravity of solids from the following observations:
(i) Mass of dry sample '" 0.395 kg
(ij) Mass of pycnometer full of water '"' 1.755 kg
(iii) Mass of pycnometer containing soil and full of watet ::::I 2.005 kg. IAns.2.72J
2.16. A sample of clay having a mass of 675 gm was coaled with paramn wax:. 1be combined mass of the clay and
the wax was found to be 682 gm. The volume was found by immersion in water as 345 mt. The sample was
then broken open and the water content and the specific gravity of solids were found 10 be 15% and 2.70,
respeaively. calculate the bulk density of soil, its void ratio, and degree of saturation. Thke specific gravity of
wax: as 0.89. {Ans. 2.002 gmlml, 0.551 and 735%J
2.17. In order to determine the bulk density of a soil insi tu, 4.7 kg of soil was e."~tractcd from a hole al the surface of
the soil. The hole required 3.65 kg of loose dry s:lnd for its filling. If il takcs 6.75 kg of the SlIme sand to fin
a calibrating can of 4.5 lilre capacity, dl!termine the bulk density of the soil. [An.... 1932 kglm)l
2.18. A litre capadty cullcr of mass I kg WIlS pu.<;hed into an emban~cnt under construction and the mass of the
culler with soil was found to be 2.865 kg. If the sample had wnter content of 11 %, determine the void ratio of
the soil in embankment. G:: 2.67. rAm•. 0.59J
8. Descriptive and Objective lYpes
2.19 What is a block diagrom ? WhDl is its use ?
2.20. Differentiate between :
(a) Percentage air voids and air content,
(b) Void ratio and porosity.
(c) Specific gravity of solids and mass specific gravity.
(d) Watcr content based on solid material and that based on total mass.
(e) Saturated density and bulk density.
2.21. How do you determine the void ratio of a soil?
2.22. Discuss various methods for detcrmination of water content in a laboratory.
2.23. Describe a method for dctermination of the specific-gravity of solids of fine.grained soils.
2.24. How would you determi ne the bulk: density of a soil specimen in a laboratory ?
2.2S. Discuss various methods for the determination of bulk density of a soil in field.
2.26. Slllte whether the following statements are true or false
(a) The water content of a soil can be more than 100%.
(b) The porosity of a soil can be more than 100%
(e) The specific gravity of particles of coarse-grained is seldom greater than 2.70.
(d) Thc submerged density is about onc·half of the SlltUrnted density.
(e) For dcterminmion of water coment of all types of soils, the oven temperature Is 1000 :t 5°C.
fAns. True (a),(c), (d)J
2.27. (a) Which of the following relation is nOi correct ?

(i) c = J :1/ (;,) 11 = - ' -


(iii)PJ=~ (il') P' = (G,-:)t,· (Ans. (;1)]

(h) Which of the (o llowing S1;lICl11cnls is wrong '!
(n The void rml0 of u snlunucd soil can ~ determined from its wmer COntent.
(il) The dry density is 1thc bu lk density of soil in dried condition.
(iii ) 100% .5>iltumtioo linc lind zero percent air void lines are identicaL IAns.(ii»)
C. Multiple-Choice Questions
1. TIle waler L-on lenl of ;\ highly organic soil i~ dctcrmmed in tin o~'e n III II temperature of:
(ti) lOSoC (b) 800C
Ce) 60 0 e (dJ 27°C
2. Pycnometer method I'M water conte nt dclCmlin:llion i~ more suitan le for:
((I) Clny (b) Loess
Ie) Sand (If) Silt
3. The gas formed by lhe rem,lion 01' calcium carbide with water is:
(a) Carboy dhlXldc (b) Sulphur dioxide
(e) Ethane (dJ Acetylene
4. The rmin of the volume til' voids to the total volume of soil is:
(a) Voids r.ltlO (b) Degree of saturlllion
(e) Ai r content «(I) Porosity
5. Dry density of soil is equal to the:
(lI) Mass of solids to Ihe volume of solids.
(h) Mass of solids to th e tot al vo lume of soil.
Ie) Density of soi l in the dried condition.
(tI) No ne of the above.
6. The most accurate method for th e determination of water content in the laboratory is:
«(/) Sand hm h method. (b) Oven-dryi ng melh·od.
Ie) Pycnometer method. (d) Calcium carbide method.
7. A soil ha~ a bulk. density of 1.80 g}cm"J a~ a ~llter content of 5%. If the void r:llio remai ns constant then the
~:)lk2.:n;:':fr a water L'On!cnt o f 10% ~~; ~S8 glcm3
(e) 1.82 glcmJ (tl) 1.95 glcm)
8. In a wet soil mas!>, air occupies one·sixth of ils vol ume and WilIer occupies one-third of its volume. The void
ratio of the soil is
(n) 0.25 (b) 0.50
~) 1 .5 0 (0)1.00
9. A soil sample has a specific gravity of 2.60 and a void rat,io of 0 .78. The water contenl required to fu lly saturale
the soil at that vuid nltio will be
ta) 20% ....{-b")30%
(el40% (tl) 60%
[_I .~~~1~ ~~~~~~~~L~a~
Particle Size Analysis

(u) Engineering Propertles-lhc main engineering properties of soils are penncabilily, comprcs.<;ibility.
and shear strength. Pcnncability indicates the facility with which water can flow through soils. It is requiroo
for estimation of seepage discharge through earth m~. Compressibility is related with the deformations
produced in soils when they are subjected to compressive loads. Compression chanlClCrislics arc required for
computation of the settlements of Structures founded on soils. ShC..lf strength of a soil is ils ability to resist
Shc.1r stresses. l11c shear strength determines the stability of slopes. bearing capacity of soils and the earth
pressure on retaining structures. Engineering properties of soils are discussed in latter Ch..1pICrs.
(b) Index Properties-The tests required [or determination of engineering properties arc generally
elaborate and time-consuming. Sometimes, the gcotechnical engineer is interested to h'lve some rough
assessment of the enginccring properties without conducting elaborate testS. This is possible if index
properties are determined. The properties of soils which are not of primary interest to the geotechnical
engineer but which are indicative of the engineering properties are caned index properties. Simple tests which
are required to determine the index properties are known as classification tests. The soils arc cJ:tSSified and
identified based on the index properties. as discussed in Chapter 5. The main index properties of coarse-
grained soils ace panicle size and the relative density. which are described in this chapter. for finc-grained
soils, the main index propcnics are Ancrberg's limits and the consistency (chapter 4).
The index properties arc sometimes divided into two categories. (I) Properties of individual particles. and
(2) Properties of the soil mass. also known as aggregate properties. The properties of individual particles can
be dctennined from a remouldcd. disturbed sample. These depend upon the individu.,l grains and are
independent of the manner of soil formation. 1llc soil aggregate properties depend upon the mode of soil
fonnmion, soil history and soil structure. lbese properties should be determined from undisturbed samples or
preferably from in-situ tests. lbe most important properties of the individual particles of coarse- grained soils
arc the particle size distribution and grain shape. The aggregate property of the coarse-grained soils of great
prnctical importance is its relative density.
lbe index properties give some infonnation about the engineering properties. It is IaciUy assumed that
soils with like index properties have identical engineering properties. However, the correlation between index
properties and engineering properties is not perfe,,;. A liberal factor of safety should be provided if the design
is b.ascd only on index properties. Ocsign of large. imponant struau[CS should be done only aRer
ddenninalion of engineering properties.


The mechanic.1i analysis. also known as par/icle size annfysis, is a method of scp.1ralion of soils into
different fr.lctions b.1SCd on the panicle size. It expresses quantitatively the proportion". by mass. of various
sizes of particles present in :l soil. It is shown grtlphically on (I p<lrticle size distribution curve.

The mechanical analysis is done in two stagcs : (1) Sieve Analysis. (2) Sedimentation Analysis. 1nc first
analysis is meant for coarse-grained soils (particle Si7.c greater Ulan 75 micron) which can easily pass through
a set of sievcs. 'Ine second analysis is used for fine-grained soils (size smaller than 75 microns).
Sedimentation analysis is also known £IS wet lJJJQlysis. As a soil mass may contain the pm1iC\cs of both types
of soils, a combined analysis comprising both sieve analysis and sedimentation analysis may be required for
such soils.
Particle size smaller than 0.2 micron cannot be determined by the sedimentation method. These can be
determined by an electron microscope or by X-ray diffraction techniques. However, such analysis is of lillie
practical importance in soil engineering.
lbe soil is sieved through a sct of sieves. Sieves are generally made of spun brass and phosphor bronz
(or stainless steel) sieve clolh. According to IS : 1498--1970. the sieves are designated by the size of square
= = 3
opening, in mm or microns (1 micron 10-6 m 10- mm). Sieves of various sizes ranging from 80 mm to
75 microns arc available. '(he diameter of the sieve is generally between 1510 20 em.
As mentioned before, the sieve analysis is done for coarse-grained soils. 1nc coarse-grained soils can be
further sub-divided into gravel fmction (sizc > 4.75 mm) and sand fraction (751' < size < 4.75 mm), where
Greek leiter I' is used to represent microo. A set of coarse sieves, consisting of the sieves of size 80 mm, 40
mm, 20 mm, 10 mm and 4.75 mm, is required for the gravel fmction. 'Ille second set of sieves, ronsisting of
the sieves of size 2 mm, I mm, 600 ",. 415 1',212 ",. ISO I' and 75 "', is used for sieving minus 4.75 mm
fraction. However. all the sieves may not be required for a particular soil. The selection of the required
number of sieves is done to obtain a good particle size distribution curve. The sieves are stacked one over the
other, with decreasing size from the top to the bottom. Thus the sieve of the largest opening is kept at the
top. A lid or co..-er is placed at the top of the largest sieve. A receiver, known as pan, which has no opening,
is placed at the bottom of the smallest sieve.
(a) Dry Sieve Analysis-The soil sample is taken in suitable quantity. as given in Table 3.1, The larger
the particle size, the greater is the quantity of soil required.
The soil should be oven-dry. It should not contain any lump. If necessary, it should be pulverized. If the
soil contains organic matter, it can be taken air-dry inste..'1d of oven dry.
The sample is sieved through a 4.75 mm [S sieve. loe portion retained on the sieve is the gravel fraction
or plus 4.75 mm material. The gravel fraction is sieved through the set of
coarse sieves manually or using a mechanical shaker. Hand sieving is
nonnally done. The weight of soil retained on each sieve is obtained. 2·0mm
The minus 4.75 mm fraction is sieved through the set of fine sieves.
The sample is placed in the top sieve and the set of sieves is kept on a '·Omm
mechanical shaker (Fig. 3.1) and the machine is started. Nonnally, 10 GOOr
minutes of shaking is sufficient for most soils. The mass of soil retained
on each sieve and on pan is obtained to the nearest 0.1 gm. The mass of (. 25,..
the retained soil is checked against the original mass.
212 r-
Dry sieve analysis is suitable for c:ohesionlcss soils, with little or no
fines. If the sand is sieved in wet conditions. the surface tension may 150r-
cause a slight increase in the size of the particles and the particles smaller
than the aperture size may be retained on the sieve and. the results would 7S ~
be crroneol.1';.
Thble 3.1. Quantity of Soil for Sieve Anulysls
Maximum Size Quall/ily (kg) lSi ... ,ha'"
4.75 mm 0.5 Fig. 3.1. StackingoC Sieves.

(b) Wet Sieve Anulysis-Ir the soil contains a substuntial quantity (say. more than 5%) of fine particles,
a wet sieve analysis is required. All lumps arc broken into individual purticlcs. A representative soil sample
in the required quantity is taken, using a rimer. and dried in an oven. Tbe dried sample is taken in a tray and
soaked with water. If denocculalion is required. sodium hex.:,meta-phosphate, at the mte of 2 g per litre of
water, is added. lbc sample is stirred and left for a soaking period of at leas( one hour. '!be slurry is then
sieved through a 4.75 mm IS sieve, and washed with a jet of water. 1lle material retained on the sieve is the
gravel fraction. It is dried in an oven, and sieved through SCI of ~ sieves.
'llie material passing through 4.75 mm !iieve is sieved through a 75 1.1. sieve. The material is washed until
tile wash water becomes clear. 'Ibe material retained on the 75 1.1. sieve is collected and dried in an oven. It
is then sieved through the sel of fine sieves of the size 2 mm, 1 mm, 600 1.1., 425 1.1., 212 ~ 150 lA, and 75 IA.
The material retained on each sieve is oollCCled and weighed. The material that would have been retained on
pan is equal to the tOlal mass of soil minus the sum of the masses of material retained on all sieves.
Computation of I'ercentage Finer
For determination of the p.orticle si ...c distribution (:urve, percentage of particles finer than a p..or1icular size
is required. This om be found as under:
Let us consider the case when the sieving has been done through seven sieves, no I (coarsest) to no. 7
(fincst). Let the mass of soil retained on the....e sievC-I; be respectively. M I , M2 ... ,M7 , and the mass of soil
retained on the JXln (receiver) be Mil' The sum of all these masses is, obviously. equal to the tottll mass of
Eltprcsscd as percentage. the materials retained on the sieves and pan are

PI - ~ )( 100 P2 - o/J )( 100, etc.

and P1" ~- 100 and Pa .. o/J )( 100

The cumulative percentage (q of material retained on any sieve is equal to the sum of the percentage of
soil retained on the sieve and that retained on aU sieves coarser than that sieve. Therefore,
C1 - PI
C2 .. PI + P2
C, - PI + P2 + ... + P1
The percentage fmcr (N) than any sieve size is obtained by subtracting the cumulative percentage
retained on the sieve from 100%>.
lbus, N t - lOO-C\; N2 .. lOO-Cz , etc.
and N, _ 100-C,
It may be noted that the dimension of the soil particle that controls whether a particle shall pass through
3 sieve opening is the intermediate dimension (width) of the particle.For eltample, a particle with dimensions
3 mm )( 2 mm )( I mm shall pass through a sieve of size 2 mm if il is assumed that the particle is aligned
such that the largest dimension is oormal to the plane of sieve opening and is at right angles to the side of
the square.
(See Chapter 30, Sect. 30.8 for the laboratory eltperiment)
Soil particles finer than 75 1.1. size cannot be sieved. The particle size distribution of such soils is
detennined by sedimentation analysis. The analysis is based on Stokes' law, which gives the terminal velocily
of a small sphere settling in a fluid of infinite elttenl. When a small sphere sculcs in a Ouid, its velocity firs!
increases under the aaion of gravity, but the drag force oomes into action, and retards the velocity. After an
initial adjustment period, steady conditions are attained and the velocity beoomes oonstant. The velocity

attained is known as terminal velocity. The expression for leonina! velocity can be obtained from the
equilibrium of the particle.
The drag force, F D • experienced by a sphere of radius r when it falls through a fluid of viscosity" is
given by
... (a)
where v is the velocity.
The other two forces acting on the sphere arc the weight (W) of the sphere and the buoyant force (U).
W .4/3 .? y, • 4/3 .? (p,g) ... (b)
where 1, is the unit weight of the material of sphere
and U. 4/3 .? y.' 4/3 '?(P.g) ... (e)
From equilibrium of [orces in vertical direction.
W .. U + PD
4/3lt?-y... 4/31try ... + 6 llTlrv
4/31t,3 gp, .. 4/31t,}gp ... + 61tTJTV
2 ,>
V- ":;:J(p,-p",)g
, • .l... gd'(G-I)p.
. .. (3.1)
18 ~
where D is the diameter of the sphere, G is the specific gravity of the material of sphere, and g is the
;)cceieration due to gravity.
If a spherical particle falls Ihrough a height Ht! centimeters in t minutes,

v .. He an/sec .. .(3.2)
From Eqs. (3.1) and (3.2),
11, I gd'(G-I)P.
60t - 18 --~-- . .. (3.3)

D-V 0.3'l xlie

g(G-I)p. x, ... [3.4(a)J

D_M-{if;., ... [3.4(b)J

where M is a facto" equal to [g (~'=r) P.]"

in which 11 is the viscosity in poise (dyne- sec/em1- g _ 981 em/sc2, and p.., is in gm/ml. D is in
Table 3.2 gives the values of the rocfficienl of viscosity 'l for water at different temperatures.
The values of the factor M can be computed and Ulbulated for different temperatures. For example, for G
= 2.67 and T:: 20°C, and taking p.., z:: 1.0 gm/ml, and 11 .. 10.09 X 10-3 poise. g .. 981 cro/see-2,

M = [0.3 x 10.09 x IO-J]'h = 136 X JO-J

981 x 1.67 x 1.0 .
An approximate expression for diameter D of the panicle can be obtained from Eq. 3.1.'

lhble 3.2 Coefficienl of viscoslly or water TJ

(Vulues in millipol-.e)
,.c ,·C ,.C ,.C
" 10
12.74 '"
9.84 31
2 16.74 12 12.39 22 9.61 32 7.67
3 16.19 13 12.06 23 9.38 33 7.51
4 15.68 14 11.75 24 9.16 3. 7.36
5 15.19 15 11.45 25 8.95 35 7.21
6 14.73 16 11.16 26 8.75 36 7.06
7 14.29 17 10.88 1:1 855 37 6.92
8 13.87 18 10.60 28 8.36 38 6.79
9 13.48 19 1034 29 8.18 39 6."
\Note. 1 millipoise = 0.1 mN-stm ]
v _ l... 981 x rr(2.67-1.0) x 1.00
18 10.09 x Wool
or v • 9020 rr ... [3.5(a)]
where v is the velocity in em/sec and D is the d iameter in em .
If v is expressed in mm/sec and D in mm,
v _ 902d ... [3.5(b)]
If v is expressed in em/sec and D in mm,
v _ 90.2 d ... [3.5(c)]
Table 3.3 gives the lime required for the scUlcmenl of ~rticles of different sizes through a height of
100 mm.
Thble 3.3. nme of Settlemenl for 100 mm lIeight
S.No. Diameter (mm) Time
1. 0.075 19.72 sec
2. 0.02 4.62 min


51.36 mm
7.70 hr
JO.81 hr


About 50 g of oven-dried soil is weighed accurately and transferred to an evaporating dish. Th have
proper dispersion of soil, about 100 ml of a dispersion solution is added to the evaporating dish to covcr the
soil. IS ; 2nD-Part IV recommends the use of dispersion solution obtained after adding 33g of sodium
hex am eta-phosphate and 7g of sodium carbonate to distilled water to make one litre of solution. After the
dispersing solution has been added 10 soil, the mixlure is wanned gently for about 10 minutes. The contents
of the evaporating dish are then transfcrred to the cup of a mochanical stirrer. Distilled water is added to
make the cup about three-fourth full. TIle suspension is stirred for about 15 minutes. However, the stirring
period is more for clayey soils.
The suspei'!Sion is then washed through a 75 \.l sieve, using jets of distilled water. The portion of the
suspension which has passed through the sieve is used for sedimentation analysis. 'The specimen is washed
into a 1000 ml jar and enough watcr is added to make 1000 ml of suspension.
If the soil cont~ins organic mallcr and calcium compounds, il should be pretreated before adding the
dispersing agent. This is done is two stnges.
(1) 1bc soil is taken in a beaker and first treated with a 20 volume hydrogen peroxide solution to remove
the organic matter, at tbe rate of about 100 ml of hydrogen peroxldc for 100 gm of soil. The mixture is

wanned to a temperature nor. exceeding 60°C. Hydrogen peroxide causes oxidation of organic maHer and gas
is Ubernled. When no more gas comes out. the mixture is boiled to decompose the remaining hydrogen
peroxide. The mixture is then cooled.
(2) Calcium compounds in the soil arc removed by adding 0.2 N hydrochloric acid at the rate of 100 ml
for every 100 g of soil. When the reaction is oomplete, the mixture is filtered. The filtrate is washed with
distilled water until it is free from the acid. The damp soil on the filler is placed in a evaporating dish and
dried in an oven to constant mass.
AI the commenIXmenl of the sedimentation, the soil particles arc unifoonly dispersed throughout the
suspenSion, and the concentration of particles of different sizes is th~ same at all depths. After a lime period,
at a particular depth, only those particles remain which have nol settled. Because all particles of the same size
have the same velocity, the particles of a given size, if they exist at any level, are in the same concentration
as at the beginning of sedimentation. In other words., all particles smaller than a particular size D will be
present at a depth 1I~ in the same degree of concentration as at the beginning. All panicles larger than the
size D would have settled below that depth.
For illustration, let us assume that the soil is composed of particles of only three sizes, which have
terminal velocities in the ratio of 1:2:3. The three types of panicles. two at each level. are shown in the kfi

Level A A
Level B B
t .1.

~. 2
S 2.
level C- C 7
00 0 0

Levctl 00

Levilli E E


V3 = 3 V1
V2 = 2 V,


S'g~g 6:9~~:5
(.) (b)
Fig. 3.2. Settlement of particles.
column, middle column and the right column in Fig., 3.2 (a). At the beginning of the sedimentation, the
concentration of particles is the same at all levels.
After some time, the particles take the position as shown in Fig. 3.2 (b). The particles of the smallest size
have settled to a depth h, those of the intermediate size and the largcst size to 2h and 3h, respectively. At
lever B-B, only the particles of the smallest size exist, and the concenlratjon of these particles is the same
as at the beginning, viz. 2 particles. At level C-C, the concentration of the particles of the smallest and
intermediate sizes is the same as at beginning. Likewise, at level D-D, the particles of all the three sizes
exist with the same concentration.
If mD is the mass of parCdes per ml of.suspcnsion at depth fie after time t, and m, is the mass of partida.
per ml of suspension at the beginning of sedimentation. the percentage finer than the size D is given by
N. !!'!.Q x 100 ... (3.6)
The particle size D is detennined using Eq. 3.4(a).


In this method, 500 ml of soil suspension is required. The procedure for preparation of 1000 ml of
suspension has been discussed in Sect. 3.5. All the quantities required for 1000 ml of suspension are halved
to get a 500 ml of suspension. The suspension is
taken in a sedimentation tube. Fig. 3 .3 shows a 10
ml capacity pipette used for extnlction of the '" _----<--+-- Bulb funnel
(distilled water)
. sample. The pipette is fitted with a suction inlet.
(a) Calibration or Pipette Safety bulb
For delenninalion of the volume of pipette. it
is calibrated before usc. For calibration. the ncyale
Wash ouHet
of the pipette is immersed in distilled water. The Stop cock
stop cock: S is closed. The three-way stop cock T is
opened, and the water is sucked up into the pipette Scale
until it rises in safety bulb. The stop cock T is then Pipette
closed and the pipette is taken oul. The stop cock T
is now turned the other way round to connect it to Sliding carriage
the wash outlet to drain the excess water from the
safety bulb. The stop cock is the:) turned thc other
way round to discharge the water comained in the
pipette into a glass weighing bottle. The mass of
water in the botUe in grams is equal to the volume
of the pipette in ml.
(b) Sedimentation Thst
The sedimentation tube containing the
suspension is placed in a constanHempcrature bath
Sedimentation tube
at 2rC for about one hour. The lube is then
removed from the bath, a rubber bung is placed on
its top to close the mouth. 'Ibe tube is inverted end-
over-end a number of times to cause thorough
mixing. The bung is removed and the tube is again Fig. 33. Pipette Method
placed in the constant temperature bath kept just below the tip of the pipette. The instant when the tube is
placed in the constant temperature bath is taken as the beginning of the sedimentation. 1be slap watch is
slarted to record the time.
The pipette is gradually lowered into the suspension in thc sedimentation tube. The samples are taken
from a depth of 100 mm below the surface of thc suspension. The first sample is taken after 2 minutes of the
start of sedimentation. The pipette is lowered slowly about 20 seconds before the sample is due to be taken.
More samples are taken after 4, 8, 15 and 30 minutes, and 1, 2, 4, 8 and 24 hours. Exact time at which the
sample is taken is noted from the stop watch.
The procedure for taking samples is as follows. The stop cock Tis opene..::l and tbe suspension is drawn
into the pipette until it is full of suspension. The time taken for actual sampling is about 20 seconds. The stop
cock T is then closed, and any surplus suspension dawn up in the safety bulb is drained away through the
wash outlet. The safety bulb is flushed out with distilled water stored in the bulb funnel. The stop cock is
again turned and the soil sample in the pipette is transferred to a weighing bottlc. Distilled water is used to
tmnsfer any solid particles adhering to the inside. The samples taken are dried in an ovcn at 105-110°C for
24 hours to obtain the mass of solids per ml. As the solids also contain dispersing agent. a correction in the
mass of solids is required. If m is the ma5S of dispersing agent per ml of suspension, tbe weight of soil solids
per ml is given by
... (3.7)

where "'n' = mass of solids/ml as obtained from the sample.

/liD = actual mass of soil solids/ml.
'[he percentage finer than 'any size D can be obtained using Eq. 3.6.
Merits and Demerits of the PipeUe Method
The pipette method is a standard laboratory method for the particle size analysis of finc-grained soils. It
is a very accurate method. However, the apparatus is quite delicate and expensive. It requires a very sensitive
~c~::g:n~~'::~tor quick particle size analysis, the hydrometer method, described in the following section,


A hydrometer is an instrument used for the determination of the specific gravity of liquids. As the
specific gravity of the soil suspension depends upon the particle Si7.c, a hydrometer can be used for the
particle size analysis. A spccialtypc of hydrometer with a long stem (neck) is used. 'Ille stem is marked from
lop to bottom, generally in Ihe range of 0.995 to 1.030 (Fig. 3.4). AI the lime of commenement of

0·995 _ -,
\·000 =0 Stem
1.005 = '5
B -.l."t1
--- B


Bulb h TA

Fig. 3.4. Hydrometer Method
sedimentation, the specific gravity of suspension is uniform at all depths. When the sedimentation takes place,
thee larger particles settle more deept:r than the smaller oncs. This results in non-uniform specific gravity of
Ihe suspension at different depths. The.lower layers of the suspension have specific gravity greater than thai
of the upper layers.
Casagrande has shown that the hydrometer measures the specific gravity of suspension at a point
indicat~d by the centre of the immersed volume. If the volume of the stcm is neglected. the centre of the
immersed volume of the hydrometer is the same as the centre of the bulb. Thus, the hydrometer gives the
specific gravity of the suspension at the centre of the bulb.
(a) Calibration of hydrometer
To determine the depth al which the specific gravity is measured, calibration of the hydrometer is done.
The volume of the hydrometer, V", is fimt determined by immeming it in a graduated cylinder partly filled
with water and noting down the volume due to the rise in water level The volume of the hydrometer can also
be determined indirectly from its mass. The volume of hydrometer in ml is approximately equal 10 the mass
of hydrometer in grdms, assuming that the specifK: gravity of hydrometer is unity.
The depth of any layer A·A from the free surface 8-0 is lhe effective depth at which the specific gravity
is mca')ured by the hydrometer ((Fig. 3.4 (b)]. As soon as the hydrometer is inserted in the jar, the layer of
suspension whieh was at level A· A rises to the level A' -A', and that at level B· B rise to the level B' - B'.
TIle effective depth He is given by

Ile - (II +~) - ~ + ~ ... (a)

where H = depth from the free surface B' - B' to the lowest mark on the stem,
h = height of bulb,
V" = volume of hydrometer,
A "" cross·sectional area of jar.
In Eq. (a), it has been assumed that the rise in suspension level from A -A to A' -A' at the centre of the
bulb is cqu.11 to half the total rise due to the volume of the hydrometer.

Thus lie .. H + i(h - ~) ... (3.8)

lbe markings on the hydrometer stem give the specific gravity of the suspension at the centre of the
bulb. The hydrometer readings are recorded after subtracting unity from the value of tlle specific gravity and
multiplying the remaining 1 BO
digit by 1000. Thus, a

specific gravity of 1.015 is
represented by a hydrometer
reading R,.of (1.015 - 1.000) x
1000 15. The
graduations on the right side k1I. 0

~~t~: ~~~ :;~t~~:

. depth He depends upon the
hydrometer reading R", a ~ 120
calibration chart can be W
obtained between the hydro·
meter reading Rh and the '00_1,,5--..,----:,---:',,-0---:''''5---:2'''0-- '''25'---''::-;30
elIective depth He. For deter·
Hydrome.hr re.ading (R h ) -
mination of the effective
depth He from Eq. (3.8), an fiB· 3.5. Calibration Chart.
accurate scale is used to determine the height h and the depth H to various graduations. Fig. 3.5 shows a
typical calibration charI.
As the sedimentation progresses, the specific gravity of the suspension decreases and the hydrometer goes
deeper and deeper, and the effective depth increases. The hydrometer reading R".
of course, decreases (Fig. 3.6).

(b) Test Procedure

Exactly 1000 ml of suspension is prepared as explained in Sect. 3.5. After stirring, the suspension is
washed into a 1000 ml'jar and willer is added 10 il to bring the level to 100(} ml mark. 1bc suspension is

mixed thoroughly by placing

a bung (or the palm of a
hand) on the open end of the
jar and turning it upside
down and back a few times.
The jar is then placed on a r
table, and a stop walch is
The hydrometer
inserted in the suspension

aOcr t minute of the


and the first reading is laken

commencement of the sedi-
mentation. Further readings
are laken after one minute, t: 12 t = 13
two minutes and four
(b) (el
minutes of the commence- t4 >3>t:z>t,
ment of tbe sedimentation.
The hydrometer is then Fig. 3.6. Downward movemenT or hydromeTer.
removed from the jar and rinsed with distilled water and floated in a comparison cylinder oonlaining distilled
water with the dispersing agent added to the same concentration a<> in the soil suspension.
Further readings are taken after 8, 15 and 30 minutes and t, 2, 4, 8 and 24 hours reckoned from the
beginning of sedimentation. For each of these reading'>, the hydrometer is inserted about 20 seconds before
the reading. lbc hydrometer is taken out after the reading and floated in the comparison cylinder.

(c) Corrections of Hydrometer Reading

The hydrometer reading;; are corrected as under:
(I) Meniscus correclion--Sincc the suspension is opaque, the observations are taken at the top of the
meniscus. The meniscus correction is equal to the reading between the top of the meniscus and the level of
the suspension. As the marking on the stem increases downward, the COfT'Cdion is positive.
The meniscus correction (elll) is determined from the reading;; at the top and bottom of meniscus in the
comparison cylinder. The meniscus correction is constant for a hydrometer.
If Rio' is the hydrometer reading of the suspension at a partio.l1ar time. the
corrected hydrometer Rio
reading is given by
Rio - Rio' + C", .. .(3.9)
The corrected hydrometer reading (Rio) is required. for determining the effective depth from the calibration
chart (Fig. 3.5).
(it) Temperature correction-The hydrometer is generally calibrated at 27°C. If the tempernture of the
suspension is different from 2rc. a temperature correction (Cf ) is required for the hydrometer reading. IT the
temperature is more than 27°C. the suspension is lighter. and tbe actual reading will be less than the corrected
reading. The temperature correction is positive. On the other hand, if the temperature is less than 27°C, the
temperature corrcction is negative.
The temperature corrcction is obtained from the chans supplied by the manufacturer.
(iit) Dispersion agent Con-ection-Addition of the dispersing agent 10 the soil specimen causes aod
increase in the specific gravity of the suspension. Therefore. the dispersing agent correction is always
negative. The dispersing agent correction (C~ can be determined by noting the hydrometer reading in clear
water and again in the same water after adding the dispersing agent.
Thus, the corrected reading R can be obtained from the observed reading Rio' as under.

... (3.10)
ComJ:lQ!lite Correction-Inslcad of finding the corrections individually, it is convenienl to find one
composile correction. The composite correction (C) is the algebraic sum of all the corrections. Thus,
n.R,.C .. .(3.11)
The composite correction is found directly from the readings taken in a comparison cylinder, which has.
distilled waler and the dispersing agenl in the same concentrntion. and has the same temperature. As the
hydrometer has been calibrated at 27°C to indicate a specific gravity of 1.(X)J, the difference between the
reading taken at the top of meniscus and 1.(X)J is in magnitude equal 10 the composite oorrcct,ion. The
negative of the hydrometer reading in the comparison cylinder is equal LO the composite oorrection. The
composile correction can be positive or negative. For example. if the hydrometer reading is +2 (i.e. 1.002),
the correction is -2, and if the reading is -3 (Le. 0.997), the rorrection is +3.
The composite correction is found before the start of the test and at every 30 minute interval.
The corrected hydrometer reading R can be related to the percentage finer N than any size D as under:
Let M$ be the mass of dry soil in a sLl'>pension of volume V. At the commencement of the sedimentation,
the soil-water suspension is uniform, and. therefore, the mass of solids per unit voluQe of suspension at any
depth is M,!V.
The initial density of suspension is given by
M$ + mass of water in suspension
p;' V

or p,'. ~ + massofwater!volumeofsuspension. . .. (a)

The mass of water per unit volume of suspension can be detennined from the volume of water per unit
volume of suspension. as explained below.
Mass of solids/volume of suspension ·v
Volume of solidslvolume of suspension
• V(G P.)

Volume of water/Volume of suspension _l_~


Mass of water/volume of suspension • [I - V(~'P.) 1P.

From Eq. (a), M,
Pi - V +
[ M,
I - V(G P...)

-P ... M,
+-y (1- I)
or M,
p;.p..,+-y----c;- (G-I) ... (3.12)

If MD is tbe mass of solids in volume V at that depth after time t, Eq. 3.12 gives the density of
suspcru;ioo at that depth as
po. P... + V (G-I)
----a- ... (3,13)

From Eq. 3.6, the percentage liner N than any size is given by

N- !!!Q)( 100

N ' m,
"'0 - """"iOO
where /liD" MolV and III, . AI/ V
lbereforc, Eq. 3.13 becomes

p_p~,+~~(G~l) ... (3.14)

P-Pw" ~; (G~l)
N . (~) (p - Pw) x 100 ... (3.15)
G- I Ills

As the hydrometer reading R is cqUll1 to (P - P..,) It 1000. Eq. 3.15 can be written as

N _ (~) . ~ It J... x 100 ... (3.16)

G- 1 1000 m,

As Ills- AI/ V, N . (~) . ~ x ~ x 100 ... (3.17(Q)J

G- 1 1000 M,

N.. (G~ t) . k x 100 ... (3.17(b)J

where M, is the mass of the solids in a volume Vof 1000 ml.

The particle size D is determined using Eq. 3.4, laking the value of efTeaive depth He from the
calibration curve for the hydrometer reading RI!'
(See Chapter 30, Sect. 30-9 for Ihe laboratory experiment)


The sedimentation analysis docs not give correct values of the particle size and the percentage [iner due
to the following limitations.
(I) The sedimentation analysis gives the panicle size in terms of equivalent diameter. which is less than
the particle size given by sieve analysis. The soil particles arc not spherical. The equivalent diameter
is close to the lhickness (smallest dimension) rather than the length or width. (The equivalent
diameter is the diameter of the sphere which falL.. with the same velocity as the actual particle.)
(2) As the specific gravity of solids for different panicles is different. the use of an average value of G
in Eq. 3.17 (b) is a source of error. However, as the variation of the values of G is small, the erroe
is negligible.
(3) Stokes' law is applicable only when the liquid is infinite. The presence of walls of the jar affects the
results to some extent.
(4) In Stokes' law. it has been assumed that only one sphere settles. nnd there is no interference from
other spheres. In the scdimentntipn an<11ysis. as many panicles sellie simultaneously. there is some
However. the effca of errors mentioned in paras (3) and (4) is negligibly small if the mass of dry
soil used per 1000 ml of suspension is not more lhan 5Og.
(5) The sedimentation analysis cannot be used for particlt:S larger than 0.2 mm as turbulent conditions
develop and Stokes' law is not applicable.
(6) TIle sedimentation method is not applicable for particles smaller than O.2~ because Brownian
movement takes place and the particles do not setUe as per Stokes' law.
(7) The sedimentalion method cannot be used for chalky soils, because of the removal of the calcium
carbonate of chalky soils in the pretre.1tement by hydrochloric acid.
Despite above limitations,the sedimentation analysis is used for detennination of the particle size" of
fine-grained soils. '[be particle sizes of such soils is not of much practical significance and, therefore. even
approximate analysis is good enough. The index properties of such soils are plac;.ticity characteristics and not
the panicle size. The main use of the sedimentation analysis is to detennine the clay content (particles less
than 2 f.1 size) in a soil mass.
It the soil mass consists of particles of both coarse-grained and fioe-grained soils. a combined analysis is
done. The slurry of the soil is made as mentioned in the wet sieve analysis (Sect. 33). 1be slurry is sieved
through a 4.75 mm IS sieve. The material retained on the sieve is oven-dried and a coarse-sieve analysis is
The material retained on a 75 fA. IS sieve is also oven-dried and the sieve is analysis is done using the set
of fine sieves.
The suspension passing the 75 fA. sieve is mixed with a deflocaJlating agent, if oot already done. The
hydrometer test is performed on the suspension, as explained in Sect. 3.B.
The percentage finer than any size can be calculated on the basis of the original mass of soil taken for
the combined analysis.
The particle size distribulion rurve, also known as a gradation curve, represents the distribulion of
particles of different sizes in the soil mass. The percentage finer N Ihan a given size is ploUed as ordinate (on
natural scale) and Ihe panicle size ac;. abscissa (on log scale). In Fig. 3.7 (0), the particle size decreases from

~ 80
~ 60
g 40
~ 20
&01.0 0.1 0.01 0.001 0.0001
- - Par ticle size (mm)

E 80
~ 40
~ 20
& 0 .001
0.01 0.10 1.0 16.0
Particle size (mm)-
Fig. 3.7. Pnrlide Size Curve.

leO 10 right, whereas in Fig. 3.7 (b), the particle size increases from left \0 right. Both the methods are
prclevant. The reader should carefully observe the horizontal scale of the particle size distribution curve. In
this lexl, tbe particle size distribution is shown as in Fig. 3.7 (b), i.e., the particle sizc i~ from left to
righI, which is also the usual convention. ,
The semi-log plol for the particle size distribution, as shown in Fig. 3.7, has lhe following advantages
over nalural plots.
(1) The soils of equal uniformity exhibit the same shape, irrespective of the adual particle si1.c.
(2) A<; the range of the particle sizes is very large, for better representation. a log scale is required.
Grading of Soils-The distribution of particles of differcOi sizes in a soil mass is called grading. The
grading of soils can be determined from the particle size distribution curves. Fig. 3.8 shows the patlicle size
distribution curves of different soils.

9<J I / ill I
~ "'c:.!~1l9~ VI
~Fio, rained V II
60 I "so,0..,. .I
Am f I I
uop grad
'" I ./
/0, j-cCXJrsegrOined

-f""" A,
y.--- L

1 0.01 0·1 1.0 1M

Porlicle size 0 (mm)-_
Fig. 3.8. Grading 05 Soils.
A curve with a hump, such as curve A, represents the soil in which some of the intermediate size
particles are missing. Such a soils is called gap-graded or skip-graded
A flat S-oJrve, such as curve B. represents a soil which contains tbe particles of different sizes in good
proportion. Such a soil is called a wellvgraded (or uniformly graded) soil.
A steep curve, like C, indicates a soil oontaining the particles of almost the same size. Such soils are
known as unIform soils.
The particle size distribution curve also reveals whether a soil is coarse..grained or fine-grained. ro
general, a curve situated higher up and to the left (curve D) indicates a relatively fine-grained soil, whereas
a curve situated 10 lhe right (rurve E) indicates a coarse-grained soil.
The uniformity of a soil is expressed qualilatively by a term known as uniformity coefficient., Cu. given
C" - 1>;;: ... (3.18)

where D6fJ = particle size such that 60% of the soil is finer than this size, and
DIO = particle size such that 10% of the soil is finer than this size.
D IO size is also known as the effective size. In Fig. 3.8, Dw and DIO (or the soil B are, respectively. 0.08
m.m and 0.004 mm. Therefore, Cu 0.0810.004 20 =
The larger the numerical value of Cu. Ihe'more is Ihe range of particles. Soils wilh a value of C u less
tban 2 are uniform soils. Sands with a value of C" of 6 or . more, are wcll·graded. Gravels with a value of
CIl of 4 or more are weU·graded.
The general shape of the particle size distribution curve is described by another coefficient lrnown as the
coefficient of curvature (Cc) or the coefficient of gradation (Cg ).
Cc • D(IJ x DIO ... (3.19)
where D)(J is the particle size corresponding 10 30% finer.
For a well-graded soil, the value of the coefficient of curvature lies between 1 and 3.
It may be noted that the gap grading of the soil cannot be detected by C" only. The value of C c is also
required to detect. it.
For the soil shown by curve B in Fig. 3.9. the particle size D:Jo is 0.025 mm. Therefore,

Cc - o.:·~~~~ . 1.95


The particle size distribution curve is extremely useful for coarse-grained soils. As the behavior of
fine-grained soils (minus 75 IA) depends upon the plasticity characteristic and not on the particle size, its use
for fine- grained soils is limited.
(1) The particle size dislribulioo curve is used in the cla<>sification of coarse·grained soils (sec chapter
(2) The coefficient of permeability of a coarse-grained soil depends to a large extent on the size of the
particles. An approximate value of the coefficient of permeabi1ily can be determined from the
particle size as discussed in chapter 8.
(3) The particle size is used to know the susceptibility of a soil to frost action.
(4) The particle size distribution curve is required for the design of drainage filters.
(5) The particle size distribution provides an index to the shear strength of the soil. Generally. a
well·graded. compacted sand has high shear strength.
(6) The compressibility of a soil can also be judged from its particle size distribution curve. A unifonn
soil is more compressible than a well-graded soil.
(7) The particle size distribution curve is useful in soil stabilisation and for tbe design of pavements.
(8) The particle size distribution curve may indicate the mode of depositioo of a soil. For example, a
gap·graded soil indicates deposition by two different agencies.
(9) The particle size distribution curve of a residual soil may indicate the age of the soil deposit. 'With
increasing age, the average particle size deaeases because of weathering. The particle size
distribution curve whidl is initially wavy becomes smooth and regular with age.
The engineering properties of soils, especially coarse.graincd soils, depend upon the shape of particles.
As it is more difficult to measure the shape lhan the size. the shape of the particles does not get the required
When the length, width and thickness of the particles are of same order of magnitude, the particles are
known to have a bulky Shape. Cohesionless soils have bulky particles. As sta~ed in chapter 1, bulky particles
are formed by physical disintegration of rocks. Rock flour, which has the size of the particles in the range of
fme-grained soils, behaves like rohesionless soils because its particles are bulky. Soils rontaining bulky grains
behave like a heap of loose bricks or broken stone pieres. Such soils can suppoc1 heavy. loads in static
conditions. However, when vibration I.!lkes place, large settlements can occur.
Cohesive, clayey soils have particles which are thin and flaky, like 8 sheet of paper. Soils composed of flaky

particles arc highly compressible. These soils deform easily under SIHtic lo.'K1s, like dry leaves or loose papers in
a b~kcl subjected to a pressure. However, such soils arc relatively morc stable when subjected to vibrations.
The shape of tbe coarse-grained soils can be described in terms of sphericity, flatness or angularity.
Sphericity (S) of the particle is defined as
wbere D.. is equivalent diameter of tbe particle assuming It to be a sphere, given by D.. - (6V/a)Vl, where V
is the volume of the particle and L is the length of the particle.
The particles with a high value of sphericity (more roundness) are easy [0 manipulate in construction and
their tendency to fracture is low.
Flatness (/') and elongation (E) are defined as
as F-BIT and E-LI8
where L. Band T are. respectively. length. widlh and thickness.
The higher the value of the flatness or the elongation. the morc is the tendency of the soil to fracture.
loe angularity (R) of a particle is defined as
R.. average radius of comers and edges
radius of maximum inscribed circle
Depending upon angUlarity. the panicles are qualitative ly divided into 5 shapes (Fig. 3.9).

AnguLar Subangular Subrounded Rounded Will[ rounded

Fi.g 3.9. Different shapes of p~rtidC5

The angularity of particles has great influence on the behavior of marse-grained soils. The particles with
a high value of angularity lend to resist the displacement, but have more tendency for fracturing. On the o ther
hand, the particles with low angularity (more roundness) do not crush easily under loads. but have low
resistance to displacements as they have a tendency to roll. In general. the angular particles have good
engineering properties, such as shear strength.
The most important index aggregate propeny of a cohesionlcss soil is iLS relative density. 1lle engineering
properties of a mass of cohesionless soil depend to a large extenl on its relative density (D,). also known as
density index (Iv). The relative density is defined liS

... (3.20)

where emu = maximum void ratio of the soil in the loosest condition.
emin = minimum void ratio of the soil in the densest condition.
e = void ratio in the naturaL state.
The relative density of 3 soil gives a more clear idea of the denseness than does the void ratio. 1Wo types
of sands having the same void ratio may have entirely different state of denseness and engineering properties.
However, if the two sands have the same relative density. they usually behave in identical manner.
. 11lC relative density of a soil indicates how it woukl behave under loads. If the deposit is dense, it can
take heavy loads with very little settlements. Depending upon the relative density, the soils are generally
divided into 5 categories (Thble 3.3).

Table 3.3. Denseness or Soils

Dellselless Very
Dr(%) 85 [0 100


Fig;. 3.10 (0). (b) and (c) show the soil in the densest, natural and loosest statcs_ As it is difJicull to
measure the void ratio directly, Eq. 3.20 cannot be used. However, it is oonvenicnt to express the void ratio
in terms of dry density (p.,).

( b) (e)

Fig. 3.10

Representing the dry density in the loosest, densest and natural oon<litions as Pm;"" PDl/lX and Pd , Eq. 3.20
GP __ ) _ (GP __ )
( Pm,n Pd
D,- (GP__ ) _ (GP _ _ )
Pm;n Pmruc

D,- Pmu ( P.-Pm;, ) ... (3.21)

Pd Pm:", - Pm;n
Eq.3.21 is used to determine the relative density of an in-silu deposit. The methods for the determination
of the dry density (Pd) have been discussed in ch:tpter 2. The methods for the determination of p""", and
PlI'Iin are described below.
For determination of the minimum dry density. a representative, oven dry sample of soil is taken. The
sample is then pulverised and sieved through the required sieve. The minimum dry density is found by
pouring the dry soil in a mould using a pouring device (IS : 272Q-Pal1 XlV). The spout of the pouring
device is so adjusted that the height of free fall is always 25mm. lbe rna<;S and the volume of the soil
deposited are found, and the dry density of the soil is determined as under.
PlIlin· -v;:- ... (3.22)

where Mmln = mass of dry soil.

V", = volume of soil deposited in the mould.

The maximum dry density is detennined either by the dry method or the weI method. In the dry method,
the mould is filled with thoroughly mixed oven-dry soil. A surcharge load is placed on the soil surface, and
the mould is fixed to a vibrntor deck. The specimen is vibrated for 8 minutes. 'Ibe mass and volume of the
soil in the compacted state are found. The m3:ltlmum dry density is given by
Pmu- --v;:-
where Mm11% = mass of dry soil and
V... = volume of mould.
The maximum dry density of a soil can be determined also in the saturated state. In this method. the
mould is filled with wet soil and water is added till a small quantity of free water accumulates on the free
surface of the soil. During and just after filling the mould. vibrntion is done for a total of six minutes. Water
appearing on the surface of soil is removed. A surcharge mass is placed on the soil and the mould is vibrated
again for 8 minutes. The volume (\1,;.) of the soil is determined. Ibe mass Mmnx of the soil is determined after
oven drying the sample.
Note. If the sand is vibrated under more severe conditions, it may have a relative density of more than


lliustrallve Example 3.1. The results 0/ a sieve analysis 0/ a soil are given below:
lOtal mass 0/ sanlple = 900 gm.

IS Sieve Pan

retained (gm) 75

Draw the partick size distribution cun.oe and hence determine the uniformity coefficient and lhe
coeffICient 0/ curvature.
Solution. The calQJlatioos for percentage finer N than different sizes are shown (fable 3.1).
Tuble E-3.1
IS M~, Percenlage Cumu/QJive Pereenlage
S;"" retained retailled perr:nuage Finer(N)

mained = 100 - (4)

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

20mm 3S 10" 3.89 3.89 96.11
10 40 4.44 833 91.67
4.75 80 &89 17.22 82.78
20 ISO 16.67 33.89 66.11
1.0 ISO 16.67 5056 49.44
0.6 140 15.56 66.12 33.88
425 • 115 12.78 78.90 21.10
2121' 55 6.11 BS-.01 14.99
150 • 3S 3.89 88.90 11.10
75. 25 278 91.68 &32
Pan 7S &32 100.00
1: _ 9OO.0gm

shown in Fig. E-3.1.

The particle size distribution ruNe is
From plot, DfIJ" 1.55 mm; D3iJ = 0.53 mm; 0'0 = 0.115 mm
r 60 --------- --------- 1:1
3 ~~----------+_----------~/~I--------_+------~~
f 3 -~-------- - - - - - - --II---+---L-----+----+---1
~ J1
, I I
Fig. E-3.1 Porticle ~i2l! (mm) - - - - _

D60 1.55
From &j. 3.18 e.... D
.. 0.115 .. 13.48

C _ (D,,)2 _ ~ _ 1.58
From Eq. 3.19,
~ Doo X D 10 1.55 X 0.115
Illustrative Example 3.2. The following observations we~ IiJJren during a pipette analysis for the
determination of particle size distribution of a soil sample.
(a) Depth below the water surface at which the sample was taJcen = 100 mm
(b) Capacity of pipette = 10 ml
(c) Mass of sample when dried = 03 gm
Cd) Tune of talcing sample = 7 minutes after tM start.
(e) \-illume of soil suspension in the sedimentation tube = 500 mi.
if) Dry mass of soil used in making suspension = 25 gm.
Determine the e'"IOrdinate of the point on the particle size distribution curve corresponding to above
Take G =
2.70 and =
TJ 10.09 miIlipoise. p ... = 1 gmlml

Solution. From Eq. 3.4 (0), D .. Yg(G - I)p. 0.30 TJ H,

x I

D .. YO.30981x x10.09 x 10-3 x 10 .. 000161 em

(2.70-1) x 7 .
From Eq. 3.6, N_ ~ x 100 .. ~%: x 100-60%

The coordinates of the point on the particie-size distribution curve are (0.0161 mm. 60%).
U1ustratlve Example 3.3. A dry sample of mass 50 gm is mixed with distilled water 10 p~pare a

suspension of 1000 ml for hydrometer analysis. The reading of the hydrometer taken after 5 minutes was 25
and the depth of die centre of the bulb below the water surface when the hydrometer was in the jar was 150
"VII. The vollmll! of me hydrometer was 62 1111 and lhe area of cross-section of the jar was 55 cm 2. Assuming
G :: 2.68 and'l1 = 9.81 miflipoise, determine lhe coordinates of the point corresponding IfJ above observation.
Solullon. 1be depth between levels B' -B' and A' -A' in Fig. 3.4, is given to be 150 mm. The effective
deplh between B - B and A - A is given by.

11,,- 15.0-.!f+ ~- 15.0-~

.. 15.0 -
~2S5 .. 14.43600

From Eq. 3.4 (a), D_ YO.3)(

11 11"

.. YO.3981x 9.81(2.68-1.0)
x 10'-3 x 14.436 .. 00023
x 5 . x an
.. 0023
• rnm

From Eq. 3.17 (a1 N - (G ~ 1) x ( k )(1~ ) x 100

.. ( 1.68 x --.so
1000 )( 100 or N- 79.76

The coordinates of the point on the particle-size distribution curve are (0.023 mm, 79.76%).
lIIustrative Example 3.4. A soil has a dry del1sity 0/1.816 gm/ml in the MturaJ corulition. When 410
gm 0/ the soil was poUTed il1 a vessel in a very loose stale, its volume was 290 mi. The same soil when
vibrated and compacted was found to have a volwlle of 215 mI. Determine the relative density.
M 410
Solution. From Eq. 3.22, Pmin" V. ..
m ;"
290 - 1.414 gm/ml

From Eq. 3.23, Pnwc _ M~ .. ~!~ . 1.907 gm/ml

From Eq. 3.21, Dr"' p""", ( Pd-Pmin ) X 100

Pd Pm;\X - Pmin

or .. 1.007 (1.816-1.414) 100

1.816 1.907 -1414 )(
ill ~_~Q.

Illustrative Example 3.5. A test lor the relative density 0/ soil il1 place was performed by digging a
small hole in ule soil. The volume of ule hole was 400 ml and ule moist weight O/Ihe excovated soil was 9
N. A/ter oven drying, the weight was 7.8 N. 0/ the dried soil, 4 N was poured into a vessel in a very loose
state, and its volume was found to be 270 mi. The same weight 0/ soil when vibrated and tamped had a
volume of 200 mI. Determine the relative density.

Solution. w.. 9.07~:O&J .. 0.1538

Yd-~" O.0195N/ml .. 19.5kN/m3

(ld)min" ~~ - 0.0148 N/ml .. 14.8 kN/m

(yJIlWI - ~ .. 0.02 N/ml .. 20.0 kN/m 3

From Eq. 3.21, subslituting y for p Ihroughout,

20.0 (195 - 14.8)
Dr .. 19.5 20.0- 14.8 x 100 .. 92.70%
Dlustratlve Example 3.6. A sample of sand has a volume of 1()(){) ml in its natural state. Its mininwm
voIwne when compacted is 840 mi. When gently poured in a measuring cylinde1i its marimum volume is 1370
mi. Determine the relative density.
SoluCion. Let M be the dry mass (in gm) of the sample.

'Iberefore, PrMII .. ::0; Pmin" 1~0; P." ltix,

From Eq. 3.21, D, _ Pm~ ( P.-P"'o )

Pd Pma:. -Pmln

MI840 (MIIOCJO-MI1370)
.. MIlOOO MI840 MI1370 x 100
.. 0.6981 x 100 .. 69.81%.
filuslratlYe: Example 3.7. In order to find the relaJive density of a sand, a mould of volume 1000 ml was
used When the sand was dynamically compacted in the mould, its mass was 2.10 kg, whereas when the sand
was poured in loosely, its mass was 1.635 kg. If the in·situ density of the soil was 1.50 Mglm J• calculate the
relative density. G = 2.70. Assume thot the sand is saturated.

SolutJon. (p_l.... _ 2.1~~ 103 .. 2.1 glm!

(Pmin)...... 1.6J~~ 103 .. 1.635 g/ml

As Pd" 1.50 Mg/m

_ 150 glml, e .. G P", _ 1 .. 2.70 _ 1 .. 0.80
Pd 1.5


or ernln .. 0545


2.70 + .~)
or 1.635 .. ~ x 1.0 or emu: .. 1.677

From Eq. 3.20

.. 11.~~ ~ g~5 x 100 .. n.47%



A. Numerical
3.1. One kg of soil was sieved through a sel of 8 sieves. with the size 4.75 rom, 2.0 mm, 600 Il, 425 I-t. 300..... 212f.t,
ISOlA and 75j.l. The mass of soil retained on these sieves was found to be 50, 78, 90, 150, 160, 132, 148 and
179 gm, respectively. Determine the percentage finer than the corresponding sizes.
(AIlS. 995, 87.S , 78.2, 63.2, 47.2, 34.0, 19.2 and 1.]]
3.2. Prove Ihal the particle diameter and the terminal velocity of panicle are related as
where I' = velocity in an/sec,
D :, diameter in em
Oearly stale the various assumptions made.
33. Determine the maximum void rmio for II sand compa;ed of grains of spherical shapes.
(1I1nt Consider a cubical box of size al, where d is the diameter of sphere. The nunDer of pm in the box is 81
IAns. 0.911
3.4. The minimum and the maximum dry density of a sand were found to be 1.50 and 1.70 gmlml. CalculDte the dry
density corresponding \0 relative densities of 50% and 75%. fAns. 1.594 gmt1; 1.645 gmIm1]
3.5. An undisturbed sample of fine sand has II dry unit weight of 18 kN/m . At the maximum density. the void ratio
is 035, and that at the minimum defL~ity, 0.90. ()ctermine the relative density of the undisturbed soil. G = 2.65.
[Ans. 77.82%]
3.6. A coarse-grained soil is oompocted to a wet density of 2Mglm3 lit II WilIer coolenl of 15%. Determine the
relative density of the wmpoctcd sand. given emu _ 0.85 and em;n _ 0.40 and G _ 2.67.
fAns. 70%]
3 .7. How long would it take for 11 particle of soil 0.002 an in diameter 10 settle from the surface to the bottom of
the pond 15 m deep? Tllke G '" 2.60 and TJ '" 1.0 x 10-S gmf_seclcm _ [Ans. 11.72 hours]
3.8 A sample of soil of moss 40 gm is dispersed in 1000 mI of water. How long after the commencement of
scdimentntion should the hydrometer reading be IIIken in order to estimate the percentage of particles less than
0.002 mm effective dillJ1)Cter ? 1be centre of the bulb is at an effective depth of 20 em below the surface of
water. Thke G ;; 2.70, TJ '" 0.01 poise. tAns. 14.99 hoursJ
3_9_ In a sedimentation test, 25 gm of soil was dispersed in 1000 mI of water (TJ '" 0.01 poise). Doe hour after the
commencement of sedimentation, 25 ml of the suspension Wll') IIIken by means of a pipette from a depth of 10
em. The mass of solid pDrticles oblllined on drying was 0.09 g. Determine
(a) 1be largest size of the particle remai ning in suspension al a depth of 10 an after one hour of the beginni ng
of sedimentation.
(b) The percenlllge or particles finer than Ihis size in the original suspension.
(e) Tbe lime interval from tile commencement, after which the largest particle remaining in suspension al 10 an
depth is one-half of this size.
(Hint. Volume of suspension;; 1009.3 ml) [Ans. 0.0055 rnntj 14.53%; 4 bours]
3.10 The results of a sedimcnllltion test of a SIlmple P.!lSSing 75~ sieve are given below. Determine the grain size
distribution. Use approxima te formula v =- 9100 0 2. .

ObservaviOfl TIme Depth Mass of soil in

No. 25 ml sample
L Z<ro all depth 2Sgm
2- 6O=nds 10 em 15 gm
3. 5 minutes 10 em lOgm
4. 10 minutes 5em 5 gm
5. 5 houffi San 0.5 gm

{Ans. Percentage finer than 0.075 mm, 0.0428 mm, 0 .0191 mm 0.0095 mm and 0.0017 nun,
respectively, 100%,60%, 40%, 20% and 2%J.
3.11 In a lesl 10 grn of fine-grained soil of specific gravity 2.70 was dispersed 10 make 500 mI of suspension. A

sample of volume JO mI was taken by means 0( a pipette 9t a depth of 100 mm, 50 minutes after the
comrnenrement of sedimentation. The sample was dried in an oven. If the dry "taSS of the soil was 0.03 gm.
calculate the larga;t size of the particle remaining in the suspension at a depth of 100 mm and the percentage
of particles liner than this size in the original soil. 11 " 0.01 poise. IAns. 0.006 mm; 15%)
3.12. Ouring a scdirnentalion test for grain size analysis. the corncted hydrometer reading in a 1000 ml uniform soil
suspension al the cornmenoemem of sedimentation is 1.028. After 30 minutes, the corrected hydrometer reading
is 1.012, and the COCTesponding effective depth is 105 em. Determine (I) the IOtal mass of solids dispersed in
1000 mI of suspension, (;1) lbe portide size mrresponding 10 the 30 minute reading. and (iii) the percentage
fiDef than this size. TIIke G " 2.67 and 11 ,,0.01 poise. . (Aos. 44.77 gm; 0.00796 mm; 42.86%)
3.13. A dry soil sample is 49 8m in mass. It is composed of the following:
Particle size (mm) 0.05 0.02 0.01 O.OOt
Mass (8m) 20 18
The sample is mixed with enough water 10 make a uniform suspension of 1000 ml. Detennine
(I) The largest particle size at a depth of JO em after 5 minutes of the commenocment of sedimentation and the
specifie gravity of the suspension al that time III thut depth.
(i/) The time required for 1111 the pDrliclcs to scllie belcr.v 10 an depth. Thke G .. 2.70 lind 11 '" 9.81 millipoise.
[Ans.om mm; 1.014; 1.06 )( 10-5 seconds}
3.14, An air-dry soil sample weighing 2S kg was sieved in a laboratory. The results are given below.
15 Sieve (mm)
Mass rela;IIed
(.g) 0.08

Draw the grain size distribution curve and delenniile the coefficient of curvalure and the uniformity coefficient.
IAns. 1.15; 259J
3.15. A 1000 rnI suspension containing 30 gm of dry soil ~ prepared for a hydrometer analysis. If the temperalUfe
is the same as that at which it was allibrated, what whouJd be the hydrometer reading al the instant of
commencement of sedimenl.8tion ? Take G " 2.70. IAns. 1.019)

B. Descriptive and Objedlve 'TYpe

3.16. What do you understand about index properties~? Whal is their importance?
3.17. How would you determine the perrentlge finer than different sieve sizes in the laboratory ?
3.18. What are the main index properties of a COIlISC-grained soil? How are these determined?
3.19. Differentiate between the dry sieve analysis and the wet sieve analysis. Why the wet sieve anlllysis is required?
3.20. Stnte Stokes' low. What is its use in the scdimenllliion mcthOO of analysis? Whlll are its limitations?
3,Z1. Compare the pipette method imd the hydrometer meiOOd. Why the hydrometer method is more popular?
3.22:.State the various corrections required for a hydrometer reading. How these corrections ore determined?
3.23. What is particle size distribution curve? What is its use in soil engineering?
3.24. What is relative density? How is it determined? What is ilS imJX)tlllnoc for a ooarse-grnined soil?
3.25. What do you understllnd by allibrotion of a hydrometer? How is it done?
3.26. State whether the following statements are true or false.
(a) The sill size pAnicles can be seen by unaided (nllked) eye.
(b) The sieve annlysis gives tbe largest dimension of the soil particle.
(c) The wei sieve analysis gives slightly larger size than that by the dry sieve analysis.
(d) The reading:; on a hydrometer inaease in upward directioo.
(e) The sedimentation analysis is useful for al\ soil panicles smaller than 75", size.
(j) The rock Hour even of clay size panides is non- plastic.
(g) A gap-graded soil is also allied 8 uniform soil.
(h) A well-graded soil contains particles of one size.
[...... nu.(c)'(J)]

C. Multiple Choice Questions

I. Ill' Stokes ' law. the termin:!1 velocity of the particle is
(a) Proportional 10 the mehtls of the panicle.
(b) l'roportional 10 the squ:trc 01 the radius of particle.
(c) Inverscly prOllOrliOMII \0 the ~qllarc of the radius of particle.
Id) None or the above,
2. Stoke's law docs nol hold good if Ihe ~izc of particles is
(a) Greater than 0.2 mill (b) (ellS lhan 0.2 ).1m
(c) Neither (a) Nur (b) (til Bo\h (al and (b)
3. Prelrcalcrncnl ur sOil [0 rcnl<'l\'C the orgamc m3l1cr by oxidation is done with
((I) Sodium hexametaphosphate (b) Oxygen
(c) Hydrogen peroxide (tl) Hydrochloric acid
4. The particie-slIe diwibulion curve with a hump is obtained for a
(ll) Unifonl1 soil (b) Well-gmded ~oil
l(.') Gap-gmdecl soil (1/) Pourly-graded soil
5. For a well· graded sllnd. the coefficient of eUTV<lture should be
tal More thim 3 II!) Betw een I nnd 3
(e) Les.~ th:lI1 I (d) None of <lOOVC
6. For <l dense sam!. the rcla(1ve density IS
(aJ Betwee n 35 and 65 (b) Ll~tween Ci5 and. fl5
(c) Between X5 :md 100 (d) Greater than 100
7. A well-graded .~and should have
(a) eu ~ 4.00 (b) Cu ~ 6.00
(t")Cu2:1.QO (l/)Cu ~3
8. In hyJromcter llt1nlySis for :1 soil mass
(a) Roth ll1cni~cus correction and dl~pcrsing agent correction arc negat ive
(b) Both meniscus C(lrrcclton and dispersing agent correclton are positive
(e) Meniscus correcti on tS posinve while dispersing agent correCLtotl is ncgn tive
(d) Meniscus corrcctwtl is negative while dispersing agent corrcction is positive
9. For a pat1iclc of dillillctcr 0.075 mm. the terminal velocity will be about
(a) 0.05 cm/s (h) 0.50 cm/s
(c) 1.0 Clll/s (tl) 1.50 cmls
(Ans. l. (b). 2. (d). 3. (e) . 4. (e). 5. (b). 6. (b). 7. (b). 8. (e). 9. (b)J
Plasticity Characteristics of Soils


The plasticity of a soil is its ability to undergo deformation without cractking or fracturing. A plastic soil
can be moulded into various shapes when it is weI. Plasticity is an impol1ant index property of Hoe-grained
soils, especially clayey soils.
Plasticity in soils is due to presence of clay minerals. The clay particles carry a negative charge on their
surfaces, as disrussed in chapter 6. The water molecules are dipolar (dipoles) and are attracted towards the
clay surface. The phenomenon is known as adsorption (not absorption) of water, and the water SO attracted to
the clay surface is called adsorbed water. Plasticity of the soil is due to adsorbed water.
The clay particles are separated by layers of adsorbed water which allow them to slip over one another.
When the soil is subjected to deformations, the particles do nol return to their original pa'>itions, with the
result that the defonnations are plastic (irreversible). As the water content of the soil is reduced, the plasticity
of the soil is reduced. Ultimately, the soil becomes dry when the particles are cemented together as a solid
The presence of adsorbed water is necessary to impart plasticity characteristics to a soil. 1be soil does
not become plastic when it is mixed with a non-polarizing liquid, such a<; kerosene or paraffin oil. These
liquids do not have electromagnetic properties to react with clay mincrals.
The soil becomes plastic only when it has clay" minerals. If the soils contains only non-clay minerals,
such as quartz, it would not become plastic whatever may be the fmcness of soil. Whcn such soils are ground
to very fine size, these cannot be rolled into threads. Rode. flour, which contains very fine particles of
non-clay particles. does not become plastic.
This chapter deals with plasticiiy characteristics and consistency of fine.grained soils.
The consistency of a fine-grained soil is the physical state in which it exists. It is used to denote the
degree of finnness of a soil. Consistency of a soil is indicated by such tenns as soft, firm or hard.
In 1911, a Swedish agriculture engineer Atterberg mentioned that a fme-grained soil can exist in four
states, namely, liquid, plastic, semi-solid or solid state. The water contents at which the soil changes from one
Slat~ to the other are known as consistency limits or Atterberg's limits.
The water content alone is not an adequatl! index property of a soil. AI the same water oontent, one soil
may be relatively soft, whereas another soil may be hard. However, the soils with the same consistency limits
behave somewhat in a similar manner. Thus consistency limits are very important index properties of fine-
grained soils
A soil containing high water content is in a liquid state. It offers no shearing resistance and can flow lik.e
liquids. It has no resistance to shear deformation and, therefore, the shear strength is equal to zero. As the
water content is reduced, the soil becomes stiffer and starts developing resistance to shear dcfonnation. At

some particular water contenl. the soil becomes plastic (Fig. 4.1). l11e water content at which the soil chang~
from the liquid state to the plastic Slale is known as liquid limit (ll, w,), In other words, the liquid limit ~
the water content at which the soil ceases 10 be liquid.
The soil in the plastic stale can be moulded into various shapes. As the water content is reduced, tht
plasticity of the soil decreascs. Ultimately, the soil passes from the pla<>lic state to tbe semi~so1id state whet
it stops behaving as a plastic. It crocks when moulded. The water content at which the soil become!
semi-solid is known as the plastic limit (PL, wp ). In other words tbe plastic limit is the water content at wbicll
the soil just fails to behave plastically.
The numerical difference between the liquid limit and the plastic limit is known as plasticity inde"
(PI,I, ).
lbus PI - U - PL
'The soil remains plastic when lhe water content is between the liquid limit and the plastic limit. Th(
plasticity index is an imponant index property of fine-grained soils.
When the water content is reduced below the plastic limit, the soil attains a semi-solid state. The SOL
cracks when moulded. In the semi-solid stale, the volume of the soil decreases with a deaea<ie in wata
content till a stage is reached when further reduction of the water content does not cause any reduction in the!
volume of the soil. The soil is
said to have reached a solid
state: (In solids, 00 appreciable
change in volume is observed
with a change in water
cootent). The water content at
which the soil changes from
the semi-solid state to the solid

~;:~ ~st::)~ as the shrinkage

.5 t---~--,'~
Below the shrinkage limit, ~
the soil does not remain Solid stale S!2:mi solid state : Plastic stah! Liqui
saturated. Air enters the voids stale
of the soil. However, because
of capillary tension developed,
the volume of the soil docs not Ws wp' w
change. Thus, the shrinkage (S L) ( PLl ( LL i
limit is the water content at Wal!2:r content _ _
which the soil slaps shrinking FIg. 4 1 Different states of SoIl
further and attaincs a constnnt volume. The shrinkage limit may also be defined as the lowest water content
at which the soil is fully saturated.
Fig. 4.1 shows sodden changes in the states of the soil at different consistency limits. Actually• .the
tronsition between different states is gradual. 'The consistency limits are detennined rather arbitrarily, as
explained in the following sections.
[Note. In liquid Slate, the soil is like soup; in plas6c Slate, like soft buller; in seml·solid state, like cheese;
and in solid Slate like hard candy.)
As defined above, the liquid limit is the water oootent at wbich the soil chaoges from the liquid state 10
the plastic state. At the liquid limit. the clay is practically like a liquid, but possesses a small shearing
strength. The shearing strength at that stage is the smallest value that can be measured in the Lllboratory. The
liquid limit of soil depends upon the clay mineral present. The stronger the surface charge and the thinner the
particle, the greater will be the amount of adsorbed water and, therefore. the higher will be the liquid limit.
lbe liquid Umit is delennincd in the
is laborntory cilhec by Casagrande's apparatus
or by cone penetration method. The latter is faU
discussed in Sect. 4.4. The device used in
Casagmnde's method consists of a brass cup
which drops through a height of t em on a Groove Sample
hard base when opcmlcd by the handle (Fig.
4.2). The device is opernted by turning the
handle which raises the cup and lets it drop
on the rubber base. The height of drop is
adjusted with the help of adjusting screws. Rubber
About 120 gm of an air.-dricd sample block
passing through 425 J.I. IS sieve is laken in a
dish and mixed with dlstillcd water to form a Fig. 4.2. Liquid Umil App.1rntus.
unifonn paste. A portion of this paste is placed in the cup of the liquid limit devia:, and lhe surface is
smoothened and a levelled with a spatula to a maximum depth of I em. A groove is CUI through tbe sample
along the symmetrical axis of the rup. preferably in one stroke. using a standard grooving tool. IS :
272.G---Part V recommends two types of grooving tools : (1) Casagrande lOOt. (2) ASfM toot. The
Casagrande tool C\JIS a groove of width 2 mm al the bouom, II mm at the top and 8 mm deep. The ASTM
1001 cuts a groove of width 2 mm at the bottom, 13.6 mm 31 Ihe lop and 10 mm deep (Fig. 4.3). The
Casagrande 1001 is recommended for normal fine.grained soils. whereas the ASTM 1001 is recommended for
sandy, fioc grained soils, in which the Casagrande 1001 tends to tear the soil in the groove.
After the soil pal has been cut by a proper grooving 1001. the handle is turned at a rate of 2 revolutioos
per second until the two parts of the soil sample come into contact al the bottom of the groove along a
distance of 12 mm. The groove should close by a now of the soil, and not by slippage between the soil and
the cup. When the groove closes by a flow, it indicates the failure of slopes formed on the two sides of the


Fig. 4.3. Details of Appa11l11a and Tools.


'{be soil in the cup is again mixed, and the tcst is repealed until two COflSeOJtivc tests give the same
number of blows. About 15 gm of soil near the closed groove is taken for water content determination.
The soil in the cup is tr.msfemxllo the dish containing the soil p8Sleatld mixed thoroughly after adding more
water. The soil sample is again taken in the cup of the Uquid limit device and the lest is repeated. The liquid limit
:~U:i~~~u~~~~ya~:~: 35,--------.-__-._,--.-"-.-rn
now when the device is given
25 blows. As it isdifficull to gel 30 ~
exactly 25 blows for the sample
10flow, the test is conducted at
different water contents so as to
gel blows in the range of 10 to 25
40. A plot is made between the ~
Wilier content as ordinate and ~

:lCn:~~~~~I~~ ~~ot'°~ o! ~'5' ~:.!~--------------

approximately a straight line. _

The plOI is known as flow ~
curve. The liquid limit is B
obtained, from the plot,
COI'l"Qiponding to 25 blows (Fig. 10
4.4). The liquid limit is ~
expressed as the nearest whole
The rappings in the liquid
limit device cause smaU shear- J
~n:u~~ 0: :it=r;e~a~ O,'~----j,c-~'-::"5 --!.:-,;-,:c,to";,:'o---il1Oc-;!:,,-.,!cO-C,!nO-'50h\60~BO!,L!""
as the water contenl when the
Numbt'~ 01 blows (N) _ _
soil has shear strength just
sufficient to withstand the Ag. 4.4. Flow Curve.
shearing stresses induced in 25 blows. 'P.le shear strength of the soil at liquid limit is about 2.7 .kN/m2.
One-poInt Method
The above procedure for detennining the liquid limit requires the test 10 be repealC<! at least 4-5 times
at different water content and plotting the results. The procedure is inconvenient and time-consuming. It is
possible to obtain an approximate value of the liquid limit by conducting only one lest. provided the number
of blows is in the limited mnge. The method is based on the premise that the Dow curve is a straight line.
The liquid limit is given by

... [4.1(0)]
where = water content of the soil when the groove closes in N blows.
n = an index, as given below.
According 10 IS : 272D-V, for soils with liqUid limit less than 50%, the value of n is equal to 0.092 and
for soils with liquid limit greater than 50%, the value of n c 0.12. The acocpted range for N is 15 to 35 for
soils with liquid limit less than 50% and 20 to 30 for soils with liquid limit more than 50%.
W, -
1.3215 _ 0.23 iogloN ... [4.I(b)]
Eq. 4.1 (a) can be written a<;
where C is the correction fador.
The value of the factor is approximately 0.98 for N = 20 and 1.02 for N = 30.
(See Chapter 30, Sect. 30.10 for the laboratory experiment)
The liquid limit of a soil can also be detennin(X! by Cone Penetrometer (IS : 2nO-V). It oonsists of a
stainless steel cone having an apex angle of 30 0 ;t; 10 and a length of 35 mm. The cone is fixed al the lower
end of a sliding rod which is fiued with a disc at its
lop (Fig. 4.5). The total mass of the cone, Sliding
rod and the disc is 80 g ;t; 0.05 g.
The soil sample is prepared as in the case of
the Casagrande method. The soil pat is placed in a
cup of 50 mm internal diameter and 50 mm height.
The cup is filled with the sample, taking care so as . Clomp
not to entrap air. Excess soil is removed and the
surface of the soil is levelled up.
The cup is placed below the cone, and the cone
is gradually lowered so as to just touch the surface
of the soil in the cup. The graduated scale is
adjusted to zero. The cone is released, and allowed
to penetrate the soil for 30 seconds. 100 water
content at which the penetrotion is 25 mm is the
liquid limit. Since it is difficult to obtain the
penetration of 25 mm exactly, liquid limit is
detennined from the equation given below.
W,. Wy + 0.01 (25 - y) (Wy + 15) ...(4.3) Fig. 4.5. Cone Penetrometer
where y (in mm) is the penetration when the water content is wy • and w, = liquid limit.
Eq. 4.3 is applicable provided the depth of penetration y is betweeo 20 to 30 mm. IT the penetration is oot in
this range, the soil in the cup is taken out, and the water content adjusled 10 get the required penetration.
A chart can also be drawn for direct determination for the liquid limit from the observed value of y and w,..
The shear strength of soil at liquid limit, as determined by tbis method, is about 1.76 kN/m2 which occurs
when the penetration is 25 mm.
The cone penetrometer method has several advaotages over the casagrande method.
(1) It is easier to perform.
(2) The method is applicable to a wide range of soils.
(3) The results are reliable. and do nol depend upon the judgment of the operator.
Plastic limil is the water content below which the soil stops behaving as a plastic material. II begins to
crumble when rolled into a thread of soil of 3 mm diameter. AI this water content, the soil loses its plasticity
and passes to a semi-solid state.
For determination of the plastic limit of a soil, it is air-dried and sieved through a 425 .... IS sieve. About
30 gm of soil is taken in an evaporating dish. It is mixed thoroughly with distilled water till it becomes
plastic and can be easily moulded with fingers.
About 10 gm of the plastic soil mass is. takeo in one band and a ball is formed. 'The ball is rolled with
fmgers 00 a glass plate 10 form a soil thread of uniform diameter (Fig. 4.6). The rate of rolling is kept about
80 to 90 strokes per minute. If the diameter of thread becomes smaller than 3 mm, without aack formation,
it shows that the water content is more than the plastic limit. The soil is kneaded further. 1ltis results io the
redudion of the waler content, as some water is evaporated due to the heat of the hand. 'The soil is re-rol1ed

and the procedure repeated lill

lhe thread aumbles. The water
content at which the soil can
be rolled into a lhrtad of
approximately 3 mm in
diameter without crumbling is
known as the plastic limit (PL
or wp).
The test is repeated,
taking a fresh sample each
time. The plastic limil is taken
as the average of three values.
The plastic limit is reported 10
the nearest whole number.
The shear strength at the
pJastic limi\ is about 100 limes
that al the liquid limit.
(See Olapter 30, Sect. Fig. 4.6. Determination of P\alic limit.
30.11 for the laboratory experiment)
Shrinkage limit is the smallest water content at which the soil is saturated. It is also defined as the
maximum water cooleOI at which a reduction of water content will oot cause a decrease in the volume of the
soil mass. In other words, at this water content, tbe shrinkage ceases. An expression for the shrinkage limit
can be obtained as given below
Fig. 4.7 (a) shows the block diagram of a soil sample when it is fully saturated and has the water content

Stage 1
Stage II
Stoge II r
Fig. 4.7. Stages ror Derivation of Shrinkage Umil.
the oondition when the soil sample bas been ovendried. The total volume V] in Fig. 4.7 (c) is the same as the
lotal volume V1 in Fig. 4.7 (b). The throe figures indicate, respectively, stage I, II and m.
Let M~ be the mass of solids.
Mass of water in stage I - Ml -M,
loss of mass of water from stage I to stage II - (VI - Vv
p ...
Mass of water in stage n - (MJ - M,) - (VI - Vi) p...
From definition, shrinkage limit '" water content in stage II
(MI - M,) - (VI - V,)P.
w, • M, ... (4.5)

(V, - V:z)
or w. - wI - ~ P... •..(4.6)
where wI represents the water content in stage [.
For determination of the shrinkage limit in the laboratory. about 50 gm of soil passing a 425 Il sieve is
laken and mixed with distilled water to make a aeamy paste. The waler content (wI) of the soil is kept
greater then the liquid limit.
A cirallar shrinkage dish, made of porcelain or stainless steel and having a diameter 30 to 40 mm and a
height of 15 mm, is taken. The shrinkage dish has a flat bottom and has its intemal comers well rounded. The
capacity of the shrinkage dish is first determined by fllling it with mercury. The shrinkage dish Is placed in
a large porcelain evaporating dish and filled with mcccury. Excess merrury is removed by pressing a plain
glass plate fumly over the top of the shrinkage dish. The mass of mercury is the shrinkage dish is obtained
by transferring the mcccw-y into a mercury weighing dish. The capacity of the shrinkage dish in ml is equal
to the mass of mercury in gm divided by the specific gravity of mercury (usually, taken as 13.6).
The imide surface of the empty shrinkage dish is mated with a Ihin layer of vaseline or silicon grease.
The mass of empty shrinkage dish is obtained aa:urately. 111e soil sample is placed in the shrinkage dish,
about one-third its capacity. The dish is tapped on a firm surface to ensure that no air is entrapped. More soil
is added and the tapping continued till the dish is completely filled with soil. The excess soil is removed by
striking off the top surface with a straight edge. The mass of the shrinkage dish with soil is taken to obtain
lbc mass (Mt,) of the soil. 1be volume of the soil VI is equal 10 the capacity of the dish.
The soil in the shrinkage dish is allowed to dry in air unlil the oolour of the soil pal turns light. It is then
dried in a oven. The mass of the shrinkage dish with dry soil is taken to obtain the mass of dry soil M •.
For determination of the volume of the dry pat, a glass OJP, about 50 mm diameter and 25 mm height, r.
taken and placed in a large dish. The OJp is filled with mercury. 'The excess mercury is removed by pn=ssing a
glass plate with three prongs firmly over
the top of the cup. Any mercury
adhering on the side of the alp is wiped
off, and the OJp full of mercury is
transferred to another large dish.
The dry pat of the soil is removed
from the shrinkage dish, and placed on
tbe surface of the mercury in the OJp
and submerged inlO il by pressing il
with the gl<M plate having prongs (Fig.
4.8). The mercury displaced by the soil .
pat is transferred to a mercury weighing Fig. 4.8. DeICtlllll\8tlon of VoIwnc of dry pal.
dish and weighed. 1be volume of the mercury is determined from its mass and specific gravity. The volume
of the dry pat Vd is equal to the volume of the mercury displaced. Of course, the volume V1 in sUlge II is
also equal to V".
The shrinkage limit of the soil is detenniOC(l, using Eq. 45, from the measured values of
VI' V2 ,M1 andM•.
(See Olapter 30, Sea. 30.12 for the laboratory experiment).
The shrinkage limit of a soil can be determined by an alternative method if the specific gravity of solid
particles (G) is known or is determined separately. An expression for shrinkage limit in terms of the specific
gravity of solids can be developed from Fig. 4.7 (b). At that stage, the water 'oonteOI is al the shrinkage limit,
given by,
(V, - V,)P.
w·--- -.--
. •.(4.7)
where V. is the volume of solids.

V, V,] p...
Eq. 4.7 can be written as W, - [Ii; - Gp ... (V,)

.. _ [V'P. _
, M,
... (4.8)

.. . M,
Now, from the defimtlon of the dry mass densIty, Pd" v;-
Therefore, w, .. (~ - ~ ) ... (4.9)
Eq. 4.8 can be used for the delennination of the shrinkage limit, as explained below.
A smooth, round-edge(! pal of wet soil is made in a shrinkage dish. It is then dried in an oven and cooled
in a dcssicalor. Any dust on the sample is brushed off. The dry mass Ms of the sample is delennined.
The volume Vz of the dry soil pal is obtained by placing it in a glass cup and delcnnining the
displacement of mercury, as discussed in Sea. 4.6.
Determination of Specific Gravity of 80Uds rr.om Shrlnkage Urnit
L Method-The specific gravity of solids (G) can be delennined using Eq. 4.8 if the Shrinkage limit has
already been determined.
From Eq. 4.8,
G - (V'P,.l~,) ..,
... [4.10(.)J
Sometimes, Eq. 4.9 is written in tenns of mass specific gravity (G".) in dried slale. Thking Girl" p/p""

G - lI(G.\ _.., ... [4.10(b)]

Method-The observations made in the shrinkage limit test, as desaibcd in Section 4.6. can be used
to determine the approximate value of G. The volume of solids (V~) is stage III (Fig. 4.7(c)]

V, _ .!!:....
Also, the volume of solid can be detennined from the volume VI in Fig. 4.7(a) (stage I) as
V~ - VI - volume of water
V _ VI _ (M} - M,)
, p• ... (b)

From Eqs. (.) and (b),

.!!:.... _ VI _ (MI-M,)
Gp. Po
~ - VIP ... - (MI-M,)
G _ M,
or .. .(4.11)
VIP ... -(M1 - M,)
1be methods for determination of Vh MI and M, t-.sve already been discussed in Sect. 4.6.
The following parameters related with shrinlcage limit are frequently used in soil engineering.
(1) Shrinkage Index-The shrinkage index (I~) is the numerical difference between the plastic limit
(~p) and the sbrinkage limit (w,).
I, - wp - w~ ... (4.1:l)
(2) ShrInkage Ralio-The shrikage ratio (SR) is dermed as the ratio of a given volume change,
expressed as a percentage of dry volume, to tbe corresponding change in water cootent.

SR _ (V, - V,)/V, x 100

... (4.13)
where VI = volwne of soil mass at water content WI
V 2 = volume of soil mass at water content w2
Vd = volume of dry soil mass.
When the volume V2 is at the shrinkage limit.
SR .. (VI - Vd)/Vd )( 100
. .. (4.14)
Another expression for shrinkage ratio (SR) can be found from Eq. 4.13, by expressing the water rontent

(V,- V,)P.

Therefore, SR_~

SR .. ~ .. G. . .. (4.15)

Thus the shrikage rntio is equal to the mass gravity of the soil in dry state (Gift).
From &po 4.9 and 4.15, tbe shrinkage limit.
• S.R. G

(3) Volumetric Shrinkage-The volumetric shrinkage (VS). or volumetric change, is defined as tbe
change in volume expressed as a percentage of the dry volume when the water mnlen! is reduced from a
given value of the shrinkage limit. Thll'>

V,-V,) )(
(----v;- 100 ... (4.16)

But From Eq. 4.14,

[(VI - Vd)/Vd) )( 100 .. SR (wI- w,)
Therefore. \IS .. SR (wI - W,) ... (4.17)
(4) Linear Shrinkage-Unear shrinkage (IS) is defined as the change in kngth divided by the initiaJ
length when the water content is reduced to the shrinkage limit. It is expressed as a percentage. and reported
to the nearest whole number.
Thus LS .. (Initiallen~h - final length ) )( 100 ... (4.18)
The linear shrinkage can be detennined in a laboratory (IS : 2720-Part XX). A soil sample about ISO gm
in mass and passing through a 425" sieve is taken in a dish. It is mixed with distilled water 10 fonn a smooth
paste at 8 water content greater than the liquid limit. 1be sample is placed in a brass mould, 140 mm long
and with a semi-circular sealon of 25 mm diameter.
The sample is allowed to dry slowly first in air and tben in an oven. The sample is oooled ana its fmal
length measured. The. linear shrinkage is calculated using the following equal:ion.
LS _ [1 _ Le~~h of oven-dry ~ple
ImUallength ofspecunen
1)( 100 ... (4.19)

In Eq. 4.19, it has been assumed that the length of the spedmen in oven-dried state is the same as that
at the shrinkage limit.

1be linear shrinkage may also be obtained from the volwnetric shrinkage (VS) as under.

[S - HXl[ 1 - ( I'S 1.00100 f1 ... (4.20)

The linear shrinkage is related 10 the plasticity index (Ip). as under:

[S_ 2.13 x (LS) ... (4.21)


(1) PlastkJty Index-Plasticity index (II' or PI) is the range of water rooteDt over which the soil remains
in the plastiC stale. It is equal to the difI~ between the liquid (w,) and the plastic limit (w,,). Thus,
I... - W,
-wI' ... (4.22)
When eilher WI or wI' canDOl be dctennined. the soil is noo~plastic (NP). When the plastic limit is greater
Lban the liquid limit, the plasticity index is reported as zero (and not negative).
(2) Liquidity Index-Uquidity index (I, or LI) is defined a<>

II - T )( 100 ... (4.23)

wbere w = water content of the soil in Datuml condition.

The liquidity iodex or a soil indicates the nearness of its water content to its liquid limit. When the soil
is at its liquid limit, its liquidity index is 100% and it behaves as a liquid. When lhe soil is at the plastic limit.
its liquidity index is zero. Negative values of the liquidity index indicate a water content smaller than the
plastic limit. The soil is then in a hard (dessicated) state.
The liquidity index is also known as Water-Plasticity ratio.
(3) Consistency lndex-Consislency index (Ie. Cf) is defined as

Ie - W//:W )( 100 ... (4.24)

where W = water cootents of the soil in natural rondition.
The ronsistency index indicates the ronsistency (finn ness) of a soil. It shows the nearness of the water
content of the soil to its plastic limit. A soil with a ronsistency index of zero is at the liquid limit. It is
extremely soft and ha<> negligible shear strength. 00 the other hand, a soil at a water moteot equal to the
plastiC limit bas a amc;istency index of 100%, indicating that the soil is relatively firm. A cono;istency index
of greater than 100% shows that the soil is relatively strong, as it is the semi-solid state. A negative value of
consistency index is also possible, which indicates that the water content is greater than the liquid limit.
The consistency index is also known are relalive consistency.
It is worth noting that the sum total of the liquidity index and the consistency index is always equal to
100%, indicating that a soil having a high value of liquidity index has a low value of consistency index and
Flow index (I,) is the slope of the flow CUIVe obtained between the number of blows and the water
content in Casagrande's method of determination of the liquid limit (Fig. 4.4). Thus

I, - log:' W~Nl) ••.[4.25(a)J

where N, = Dumber of blows required al water rontenl of w,_
and N1. = number of blow required at water amlent of Wz.
Eq. 4.25 (a) can be written in the general form
W - -I,log,oOO + C ..•[4.25(b)J

The flow index can be 70

dctcnnincd from the flow curve
from any two points. For
convenience, the number of 60
blows N) and HI are taken
corresponding 10 ooe log cycle,
i.e. N)INI - 10. In that case, so
... [4.25(c)] ~-------------~-
It may"be mentioned tbat the
number of blows actually GO
observed in tests are in a narrow

20 10 30 and lhe ratio

range, nonnally in the range of

NyN I - 10 can be obtained ~

of )0

only after extrapolation of the ~

plot. -:-
1he flow index is tbe rate at

=~:::~ ~n~= ii~:: 8 I

content. Fig. 4.9 shows the flow ;If(2)::: "i -~
curves of two soils (1) and (2). ~ I 109!.0INzIN1) I
:r~:iljj~~~ ::t:;~~~~ 15 ~,-~2~ __ - - __ - - - -r- - - - - ____ I
and possesses lower shear t
Strength as rompared to soil
(l}-with a flatter slope. In order 10
to decrea<>e the waler rootent by
the same amount, the soil with a
steeper slope takes a smaller
number of blows, and, therefore,
has lower shear strength.
10 100
Toughness index (I,) of a soil Number 01 blo'WS ( N )
is defined as the ratio of the
plasticity index (Ip) and the flow fiB- 4.9, Row IndexCi
index (I,.)
Thus I, _
!£. ...

Toughness index of a soil is a measure of the shearing Stralgth of the soil at the plastic limit. This can
be proved as under:
Let us assume that the flow curve is a straight Une between the Uquid limit and the plastic limit. As the
shearing resistance of the soil is direcUy proportional to .the number of blows in Casagrande's devi~
k SI _ NI ... (a)
aDd k S, _ H, ... (b)
where HI ::: number of blows at the liquid limit when the shear strenglb is SI
Np ::: number of blows at th~ plastic limit when the shear strellgth is Sp
k::: constan.l.

From Eq. 4.25 (a), taking wl .. W, and Nt .. 1.0,

I, .. 10;1 0 ZN;I) .. :~:~,
W, .. WI - I, JaglO N, ... (e)
Ukewise, fcr the plastic limit.
... (d)
From Eqs. (e) and (d).
w, - Wp .. - 1,1oglO(N,INp )
Substituting the value of (N/INp) from Eqs. (a) and (b).
W, -
wp .. -I,loglO (S,ISp) .. 1,log(SpfS,) ... (e)
Since the shearing strength of aU soils at the liquid limit is almost roostanl and C(jual to 2.7 kN/m2, Eq.
(e) can be written as. laking w/ -wp .. IF'
Ip - If log (S,I2.7)
or If .. 10gIO (Sp) _ log%,7)
or log 10 (Sp) .. I, + C .. (4.27)
where C is constant equal 10 loiJ~·7) (::: 0.431).
Eq. (4.27) proves that the shear strength al plastic limit depe~ upon the toughness index.
The value of the toughness index of most soils lies between 0 to 3.0. A value of toughness index less
than unity indicates thaI the soil is friable at the pia..lic limit.
Consistency of a soil. a<l defined earlier, is its resistance to defonnation. OmsislOOCY is conventionaUy
described as very soft, soft, medium. stitT, very stiff and hard. These lenns are relative and may have different
interpretation to different geotechnical engineers. For quantitative measurement of consistency, it is related to
the shear Slrength or compressive strength. ~
The llllcoofined compressive strength (qJ of a soil is equal to the failure load per unit area when a
standard, cylindrical specimen is tested in an unconfined compression testing machine (chapter 13). As the
unoonfined compressive strength is twice the shear strength (s), it can be obtained from the vane shear test
Table 4.1 gives the uoconfined compressive strength of soils of different oonsislency.
Table 4.1. Consistency In lerms of Consistency Index and Unconfined
Compressive Strength (q.,)
S.HO. Consistency Consistency Unconfined CharQcteristics
i_ compressive o/soil
(%) strength~q,J
1. Yay soCt 0-25 < 2S ltN/m Fist can be pressed inlO soil
2. Soft ~50 ~50 Thumb can be pressed ioto

3. 50-75
Medium (Firm) 50-100 Thumb can be pressed with
4 .. Stiff 75-100 100-200 Thumb can be pressed wilh
great difficulty
5. Vel)' stiff > 100 200-400 The "'I ao. be readily
indented with thumb nail
6. "Old > 100 >400 The soil ao. be indented
with difficulty by thumb nail

A cohesive soil in its natural state of occurrence has a certain structure (see chapter 6). When the
structure is disturbed, the soil becomes remoulded. and its engirieering properties dlange considerably.
Sensitivity (S,) of a soil indicates its weakening due to remoulding. It is defined as the ratio of the undisturbed
strength to the remoulded strength at the same water content.
S • (q,,).
. .. (4.28)
, (q.),
where (q,,).. = unconfined compressive strength of undisturbed clay
(q..). unconfined compressive strength of remoulded clay.
Depending upon sensitivity, the soils can be classified into six types, as given in Table 4.2.
Table 4.2. Classification or Soils based on SensitIvity
S.No. Sellsitivity Soil Type
1. < 1.00 Insensitive
2. 1.0-2.0 Little sensitive
3. 2.0-4.00 Moderately sensitive
4. 4.0-8.00 Sen.'!itive
5. 8.0-16.0 EXIra sensitive
6. > 16.0 Quick

For most days, sensitivity lies between 2 and 4. Clays considered sensitive have S, values between 4 and
8. In C$e of sensitive clays, remoulding causes a large reduction in strength. Quick clays are unstable. These
tum into slurry when remoulded.
High sensitivity in clays is due to a weU-developed flocculent structure which is disturbed when the soil
is remoulded. High sensitivity may also be due to leaching of soft glacial clays deposited in salt water and
subsequenUy uplifted.
Extra-sensitive day, such as clays of Mexico city, are generally derived from the decomposition of
volcanic ash.
The word Thixotropy is derived from two words : tl!ixis meaning touch, and tropo. meaning to change.
Therefore, thixotropy means any dlange that occurs by touch.
The loss of strength· of a soil due to remoulding is partly due to change in the soil structure and partly
due to disturbance caused to water thplecules in the adsorbed layer. Some of lhese changes are reversible. If
a remoulded soil is allowed to staM, 'filhout loss of water, it may regain some of its lost strength. In soil
engineering, this gain in strength of ute soil with passage of time after it has been remoulded is called
thixotropy. It is mainly due 10 a gradual itprientation of molecules of water in the adsorbed water layer and
due to re-establisbment of chemical equilibfi!.im.

driV~~~!ro~~~.~ 1!s°~l=tQ;::~~rt:':is~~~~enc!=~n~i:~t~~~mi~:ica~::noc:wp~:!
sbear strength will be regained after the pile hm been driven and left in place for some time.
Activity (A) of a soil is the ratio of the plaslicity index and the percentage of clay fraction (minus 2,",
sjze). Thus
... (4.29)
wbere lp = plasticity index, F = clay fraction.
The clay fraction F is percentage finer than 21-1 size.
The amount of water is a soil mass depends upon .the type of clay mineral present. Activity is a measure

of the water·holding capacity of cl.•'1yey soils. The changes in the volume of a clayey soil during swelling or
shrinkage depend upon the activity.
A number of samples of a particular soil arc taken and their plasticity index and clay fraction determined.
If a plot is obtained between the clay fradion (as abscissa) and the plastit.ity index (as ordinate). it is
observed that all the points for a particular soil lie on a straight line (Fig. 4.10).

~ 60


(1) Kaol '\ ni\e

(Z) II\lte

(3) Mon\omorillonitl;?;

Clay fra c t'lon (m i nus 2 r-)
Fig. 4.10. ActiYity of Soils.
The slope of the line gives the activity of soil. The steeper the slope, the greater is the activity. TIle lines
with different slopes are obtained for different soils.
The soils containing the clay mineral montmorillonite have very high activity (A > 4). The soil containing
the mineral kaolinite are least active (A < 1). whereas the soils oontaining the mineral illite arc moderately
active (A = 1 to 2). Depending upon activity, the soils are classified into three types (Table 4.3).
Tobie 4.3 Clas.<;ification of Soils Based on Activity
S. No. Activity Soil type
1. A < 0.75 Inactive
2. A::: 0 .75 to 1.25 Normal
3. A> 1.25 Active

Activity gives information about the type and effect of clay mineral in a soil. The following two points
are worth noting:
(1) For a soil of specific origin, the activity is constant. 1be plasticity index increases as .the amount of
clay fraction increases.
(2) Highly active minerals, such as montmorillonite,. can produce a large increase in the plasticity index
even when present in small quantity.
The consistency limits are detemlined fo r remoulded soils. However the Shrinkage limit can also be
obtained for the undisturbed sample. Since the actual behavior of a soil depends upon its natural structure, the
consistency limits do not give complete information about the in-situ soils. lbey give at best a rough estimate
about the behaviour of in-situ soils. .
Although it is not possible 10 interprete the consistency limits and other plasticity characteristics in
fundamental terms, yet these parameters are of great practical use as index properties of [ine-grained soils.
The engineering propenies of such soils can be empirically related to these index properties as under.
(1) It has been found that both the liquid and plastic limits depend upon the type and amount of clay in

From Eq. 4.25 (a), for

Ii;" w .. 10.

If .. wI - W:l .. 55.0 - 42.0 .. l3.0%

llIustrative Example 4.2. A soil has a liquid limit of 25%
and a j1uw index 0/ 12.5%. If the plastic limit is 15%,
determine the plasticity index and me toughness index.
11 the water content of the soil in its natural condition in the .-
field is 20%, find lhe liquidity index and the relative consistency. ;f!
~Iution. From Eq. 4.22,lp" W, - wp" 25-15 .. 10% ~SO w~;1.9.1.-
1 10
From Eq. 4.26, 1, .. ~ .. 12.5 .. 0.8 (80%)
S 48
From E. 4.23, I, _~x 100
.. 0.2~~g.15 x 100 .. 50%

From Eq. 4.24, Ie .. W1ZW X 100

.. O.250~IO.20 )( 100 .. 50%

U1ustratlve Example 4.3. A cone penetrometer test was
conducted on a sample 01 soil for the determination of the 42
liquid limit, and the following observations were recorded
Cone. penetration
__3___ '~O~----~20~~3~O~W~50~W
Water cOli/em (w)% 51.5 53.2 55.2 58.1 595 NO of blows
Determine tbe liquid /imit. Fig. E-4.l.
Solullon. Fig. E-4.3 shows the plot between !he cooe penetration and the water oontent. From the plot,
the water cootent corresponding LO cone pcnetratioo of 25 mm is 58%.
Thus WI _ 58%.


2s mm •
..:: 21. --- - - - - - - - - - ---


~ 20
~ 18
~ 16
u" ,
:W(. S8'O Of..
Water cont1!llt_
Fig. E-4.3.

U1ustrative Example 4.4. A sample of clay has the liquid limit and the shrinlwge limit of, respectively,
60% and 25%. If the sample has a volume of 10 ml at the liquid limit, and a volume of 6.40 ml at the
shrinXcge limit, determine the specific gravity of solids.
Solution. Let Ms be the mass of solids, in gm.
lbcrefore, mass of waler 81 the liquid limit = 0.6 Ms
and mass of water at Ihe shrinkage limil = 0.25 M,
Mass of waler losl belween the liquid lirnil
and the shrinkage limit = (0.6 - 0.25) Ms = 0.35 M,
RC<luaion in volume = 0.35 M, ml
BUI aClual reduction in volume = =
10.0 - 6.40 3.60 ml
Therefore, 0.35 Ms = 3.60 or M. = 10.29 gm
Thus, the mass of water at the shrinkage limit
- 0.25 x 10.29 = 2.57 gm
Volume of water al the shrinkage limit = 2.57 ml
Volume of solid particles, V, = 6.40 - 2.57 :::: 3.83 m
Therefore, specific gravity of solids, G.. M,V • '3°83
. - 2.69
. p"" .
Alternatively, directly from Eq. 4.10 (a),

G - (V2P..l~')-W' - (6.40 x 1.0)10.29>-0.25 - 269

nlustralive Example 4.5. In an experiment for the dctenninalion of the shrinlclige limit, the following
observations were taJcen.
(0) Volume of saturated soil = 9.75 ml
(b) Mass of saturated soil = 16.5 gm
(c) W>lwne of dry soil after shrinlwge = 5.40 ml
(d) Mass of dry soil afrer shrulkage = 10.9 gm
Compute the shrinlwge limit and the specific gravity of solids.
Solution. Given values arc VI = 9.75 ml, V1 = 5.40 ml, Ml = 16.5 gm and M,:::: 10.9 gm.
(M, -M.) - (V, - Vi) p.
From Eq. 45, W, .. M,

Therefore, w.' (l6.5-10.9)-\~~-5.40) x 1.0

• 5.6,O.~.35 .0.1147(11.47%)

From Eq. 4.11, G.. M,

V, p. - (M, -M.)

• 9.75 x 1.0 '~·~'6.5 10.9)' 2.63

Illustrative Example 4.6. A soil has liquid limit and plastic limiJ of 47% and 33%, respectively. If the
volumetric shrinkages at the liquid limi, and plastic limit are 44% and 29%, detLrmine the shrinkage limiL

Solution. From Eq. 4.16, VS - ---v;;--

VI - V"
x 100

V1- Vd
At liquid limit, \IS .. ----v;- )( 100 .. 44

~_ 0.44 + 1.0. 1.44

or Vd .. 0.694 VI ... (a)

At plastic limit, vs- Vp-VdxlOO_29

~ .. O.29+1.0-1.29

Vp .. 1.29 Vd .. .(b)
Let the volume at liquid limit, VI. be 1.0 ml.
From Eq. (0), Vd:::: volume at shrinkage limit:: 0.694 rol
From Eq. (b), Vp = volume at plastic limit = 0.895 mt


Water conlent - ...

Fig. E4.6
From Fig. E 4.6 by proportion,
W,-W, ~

1.0 - 0.6,91 .. 0.895 - 0.694

0.47 - w, 033 - W,
---0:306 - o:wt
w, _ 0.06 (6.0%)
Illustrative Example 4.7. The following index properties were determined for two soils A and B.
Index property A B
Liquid limit 65 35
Plastic limit 25 20
Wateroonlcnt 35 25
Sp. gr. of solids 2.70 2.65
Degree of saturation 100% 100%
Which of he two soils (i) contains more clay particles, (ii) has a greater bulk density. (iii» has a grtXlter
dry density. (iv) has a greater void ratio ?

S. No. saIL A SOIL E
Plasticity index
65-2.'1 = 40% 35-20 = 15%
PI .. w/-wp
2. Void ratio
0.35 x 2.7 .. 0.945 0.25 x 2.65 .. 0.663
e - wG
3. Dry density
Q.l!!! 2·~.;4~·0 .. l.388g/ml 2.6i.e::31.0 _ 1.594 g/m l
P4" 1 +e
4. Bulk density
p .. pd(l +w) 1.388 x 1.35 .. 1.874 glml 1.594 x 1.25 .. 1.992 glml

As lhe plasticiLY index: of soil A is more Ih.m thm of soi l B, [I has more clay particles.


A, Numericul
4.1. The consistency limits of a soil sample are:
Liquid limit '" 52%
Plastic limit '" 32%
Shrinkage limit '" 17%
If the specimen of this soil shrinks from a volume of 10 cm} at liquid limit to 6.01 an} at the shrinkage limit,
calculate the specific gravity of solids. [Ans. 2.8OJ
4.2. A cone penetcmion test was carried out o n a sample of soil with the fol lowing results:

CO/Ie pellelratioll (mm) I 16.1 I 17.6 I 19.3 I 213 I 22.6 I

Mois/ureCOIllelll (%) 50 52.1 54.1 57.0 58.2

Determine the liquid limit of the soil. IA ns.6O%]

43. In a shri nlulge limit test, a dish with volume of 10.5 ml was filled with saturated Clay. The mass of the S!lCuraled
clay wa<> 18.75 gm. Thc clay was dried gradually first in atmosphere and then in an oven. '[he ma.~ of the dry
clay was 12.15 gm and its oIolume 5.95 ml. Determine the shrinkage limit. [Ans. 16.9%]
4.4. A sample o f day has a void mlio of 0.70 in the undisturbed state and of 0 .50 in a rcmoulded Slate. If the
specific gravity o f solids is 2.65, determine the shrinkage limit in each case. [Ans. 26.4%, 18.9%J
4.5. A fully saturated clay has a willer content of 40% and a mass specific gravity of 1.85. After oven-drying, the
mass speci fic gravity reduces to 1.75. Determine the specific gravity of solids and the shrinkage limit.
[Ans. 2.80, 21.4%1
4,6. The Allerberg limits of a clay are : U "" 60%, PL = 45%, and SL = 2.'1%. The specific gravity of soi l solids is
2.70 and the naturai moisture content is 50%.
(I) Wh:1I is ilS SiDle of consiSlency in naEUre ?
(ii) Calculate the volume to be expet;led in the sample when moisture content is reduced by evaporation to
20%. Its volume al liquid limit is 10 cm). (Ans. consiSlency index "" 66.7%, 6.40 an)[

B, Descriptive and Objective Type

4,7. Discuss the imponance of Atlerberg's limiis in soil engineering.
4.8. What ate the main index properties o f a fine-grained soi l ? How are these determined in a laboratory ?
4.9. What do you understand by consistency of soil ? How is it determined ?
4.10. What are the different methcx1s for determination of the liquid limit of a soil? What are their relative merilS and
4.11. Describe the mcthcx1 for determination of shrinkage limit o f a soil.
4.12, Discuss various shrinkage parameters. How would you determine linear shrinkage ?

4.13. What arc uses of (.:nnsislcncy lirnits'! Wh.ll nrc their limitations '!
4.14. Differcntime belwt,.'Cn:
(a) Liquidity index and cunsistency index.
(b) Flow index and toughness index.
(el Plasticity and consistency.
(d) Activily and sensitivil),.
4.15. State whether the following S(alernCnl~ nre true of false.
(a) All the consistency limils Me determined fur the soil in distu rbed condition.
(b) The liq uidity index cannot be more th:rn 100%.
(e) The consistency index C:lll be neg'lIive.
(d) Plastic limit is the water content of soil which represents the boundary between the plastic state and the
semi·S(llid slate
(e) Al shrinkage limit, the soil is fully saturated.
(fJ The activity of a day minenll is a con~tanl.
(g) The soils with son consist!!ncy hav<!- high strength.
(II) The soils with a dispersed structure hav!! a high sensitivity. tAns. True, (el. (il), (e), (f)]
C. Multiple-Choice Questions
1. At shrinknge limit, the soil is
(u) Dry (b) Partially ~aturiltcd
(c) Satur;\ted (d) None of ahove
2. The shrinkage index is equal to
(al Liquid limit minus plastic li mit.
(b) Liquid limit minus shrinkage limit.
(e) Plastit limit minus shrinkage limit.
(d) None of ilbovc.
3. Toughness index of a soil is the nltio of
tIl) Plasticity index to the !low index.
(b) Liquidity index to the now index.
(e) Co nsistency index 10 the now inUex.
(d) Shrinkage index to the !low index.
4. A stiffelay has a consistency inde x of
(a) 50--75 (b) 75- 100
(el Greater than 100 (d) Less than 50
5. The plasticity index of a highly plastic soil is about
(al 10-20 (b) 20-40
(el Grater th~ln 40 (d) Less than 10
6. The activity of the mineral mon tmorillonite is
(n) Less than 0.75 (h) Between 0.75 and 1.25
(e) Bctwcl:n 1.25 and 4 (d) Greater than 4
7. A soil sample has LL = 45%, PL'" 25% and SL "" 15%.
For a natural water conten1 of 30%, th e consistency index will be
(/1)75% (bl50%
(c) 40% (ll) 25%
H. For the soil wilh LL = 45%. PL :0 25% and ~h '" 15%, Ihe plasticity inu<:lx is
(/I) 50% (b) 20%
(c) 60% (if) 40%

Ih, Soil Classification

(1)1 Soil classification is the arrangement of soils into different groups such thai the soils in a panicular group
have similar behaviour. It i.. a sort of labelling of soils with different labels. M there is a wide variety of soils
covering earth, it is desirable 10 systematize or classify the soils into broad groups of similar behaviour. It is
more convenient to study the behaviour of groups than Ibm of individual soils. Cla<;sification of various
commodities and species is also oommon in many other disciplines. For example, a chemist classifies the
chemicals into various groups, and a zoologiSt classifies the specic~ into a number of groups. likeWise. a
geotechnical engineer classifies the soils into various groups.
For a soil classification system to be useful to the geotechnical engineers, it should have lbe following
basic requirements:
(I) It should have a limited number of groups.
(2) It shouk! be based on the engineering properties which are most relevanl for the purpose for which
the classification has been made.
(3) It should be simple and should use the tenns which are easily un<icrstood.
Most of the classification systems developed satisfy the above requirements.
A geotechnical engineer is interested to know the suitability or otherwise of a soil as a foundauon or a
construction material. For complete knowledge. all the engineering properties are determined afier oonducling
a large number of tests. However. an approximate assessment of the engineering properties can be obtained
from the index properties afier conducting only classification tests, as diSOJssed in chaplers 3 and 4. A soil is
classified according to index properties, such as panicle size and plasticity characteristics.
If the classification of a soil has been done acrording to some standard classification system, its
properties and behaviour can be estimated based on the experience gained from similar soils elsewhere. A
classification system thus provides a common language between engineers dealing with soils. II is useful in
exchange of infonnatioo and experience between the geotOChnical engincen;. For example, if a soil has been
c1assifJed as SW according 10 Unified Soil QassifJC3tion system, tbe geotechnical engineer anywhere in the
world would know Ibal the soil is well graded sand, is quite pervious. has low compressibility and high shear
strength. All Ibis information is exchanged only in two letlers SW.
It may be mentioned that soil classification is no substitute for exact analysis based on engineering
properties. For fmal design of large slruclures, the rogineering properties should be determined by conducting
clabomlc tests on undisturbed samples.
[Note. The soil classification system can be likened to classification of human beings into 12 zodiac signs
(b)1 done by an astrologer. Although general behaviour of a human being under a particular zodiac sign can be
estimated from his zodiac sign, for oomplete prediction, his delailed horoscope. is required].
The size of individual particles has an important influena: on the behaviour of soils. It is not surprising

that the first classification of soils was based on Ihe panicle size. It is a general practice to classify Ihe soils
into four brood groups. namely, grnve~ sand, silt sizc and clay size. While classifying the fine grained soils
on the ba<>is of particle size, it is a good prllctice to write Sill size and clay size and not just silt and Clay. In
general usage, the terms silt and clay arc used to denote Ihe soils that exhibit plasticity and cohesion over a
wide range of water content. The soi l with clay-si7.c particles may not exhibit the properties associated with
clays. For example, rocId1our has the particles of the size of the clay particles bul docs not possess plasticity.
H is classified as clay-size and not just clay in the particle size classification systems.
Any system of classification based only OD particle size may be misleading for fine-grained soils. The
behaviour of such soils depends on the plasticity characteristics and not on the particle size. However,
classification based on panicle siz.e is of immense value in the case of coarse-graincd soils, since the
behaviour of such soils depends mainly on the particle size.
Some of the classifi~tion system based on particle size alone are discussed below.
(1) MlT System-MIT system of cL1SSification of soils was developed by Prof. G. Gilboy at
Mass.'lChuseltcs Institute of Technology in USA. In this system, the soil is divided into four groups (Fig. 5.1 a).
(I) Gravel. particle size greater than 2 mm.
(it) Sand, particle size between 0.06 mm 10 2.0 mm.
(iii) Silt size, particle size between 0.002 mm to 0.06 mm.
(iv) Clay size, panicle size smaller than 0.002 mm (2~).
Boundaries between different types of soils corres!X>nd to limits when im!X>rtant changes occur in the soil
properties. 'The particles less than 2~ size arc generally colloidal fraction and behave as Clay. The soils with
panicle size smaller than 2~ are classified as cL'ly size.
The naked eye can see the the plIrticle size of about 0.06 mm and larger. The soils with particle size
smaller than 0.06 mm but larger than 21! are classified as silt-size. Important changes in the behaviour of soil
occur if particle size is larger than 0.06 mm when it behaves as cohesionlcss soiL
The boundary between gravcl and sand is abritrnrily kept as 2 mm. This is about the me of lead in the pencil.
The soils in sand and Sill-sizc-rangc are further subdivided into three categories: coarse (C). medium (M)
and fine (F), as shown in the figure. It may be nOled that MIT system uses only two integcffi 2 and 6. and is
ea<>y to remember.
(2) international Classlficalion System-The International Classification System was proposed for
general use at Ihe Intemational Soils Congress held as Washington in 1927. This cla<iSifiCalion system was

Clay Sill (size) S",,'


I 0.006
0 .•
2.0 mm

(2_) legend
F:: Fine M:: Medium
(0) MIT System C:: Coarse
Ultra a,y Sill Mo g,,,,d
any Gravel
c c C M C VC
0.2 j.4 0.6 j.4 2_ 0.006 0.02 0.05 0.1 0.2 0.5 1.0 2.0mm
VC:: ·Verycoarse
(b) International Oassjfieation

Fine Medium
(e) U.S. Bureau of Soils Oassification
Fig. 5.1. OllSSifiCiltion Systems.

known as the Swedish classification system before it was adopted as InlermltionaJ system. However, the
system was not adopted by the United States.
In tbis system [Fig. 5.1 (b)1, in addition to sand, sill, and clay, a tenn mo has been used for soil particles
in the size range between sand and sill.
(3) U.s. Bureau of Soils Classification-This is one of the earliest classification systems developed in
1895 by U.S. Bureau of Soils (Fig. 5.1 (e)J. In this system, the soils below the size 0.005 mm are classified
as clay size in contrast to 0.002 mm size in other systems. 1be soils between 0.005 mm and 0.05 mm size
'a rt; classified as silt size. Sandy soils between the size 0.05 mm and 1.0 mm are subdivided into four
categories as very fmc, fine, medium and coarse sands. Fine gravels are in tbe size range of 1.0 to 2.0 mm.
Texture means visual appearance of the surface of a material such as fabric or cloth. The visual
appearance of a soil is called its texture. The texture depends upon the panicle size, shape of particles and
gradation of particles. The textural classificaCton incorporates only the particle size, as il is dimwIt to
incorporate the other two parameters.
In fad, all the classification systems b~d on the particle size, as discussed in Sect. 5.2, are textural
classification systems. However, in soil engineering, the term textural classification is used rather in a
restricted sense. The triangular classification system suggested by U.S. Bureau of Public Roads in oommonly
known as the textural classification system (Fig. 5.2). lbe term texture is used to express tbe percentage of
the three constituents of soils, namely, 5.1nd, sill and clay.


o ~>-CIQY
\ \ p

/ Cloy

Silty toom

1000t--".---*"-""""""--;"";;____,~-"60;;----,)"'0----,:,"0- "'90,----,;;)">00
Silt ('/. )
(Size O.OOS to 0.05 mm)
fiB . .5.2. Textural cill85iftcalion System.

According to the textural classification system, the percentages of sand (size 0.05 to 2.0 mm), silt (size
0.005 to 0.05 mm) and clay (size less than 0.005 mm) are plotted along the three sides of an equilateral
triangle. The equilateral triangle is divided into to zones, e.1ch zone indicates a type of soil. 1lle soil can be
classified by determining the zone in which it lics. A key is given that indicates the directions in which the
lines are to be drawn to locate the point. For example if a soil contains 30% sand and 20% silt and 50% clay,
it is shown by point (P) in the figure. The point falls in the zone labelled Clay. Therefore, the soil is classified
as clay.
'Ille textural classification system is useful for classifying soils consisting of different constituents. 'Ille
system assumes that the soil does not contain panicles larger than 2.0 mm size. However, if the soil contains
a certain percentage of soil particles larger than 2.0 mm, a correction is required in which the sum of the
percentages of sand, silt and clay is increased to 100%. For example, if a soil contains 20% particles of size
lager than 2 mm size, the actual sum of the percentages of sand, sill and clay particles is 80%. Let these be
respcaively 12, 24 and 44%. The corrected percentages would be obtained by multiplying with a factor of
l00/SO. Therefore, the corrected percentages are 15,30 and 55%. 1he textural c1assificatioo of the soil would
be done based on these corrected percentages.
In this system, the term loam is used to describe a mixture of sand, silt and clay panicles in various
proportions. The term loam originmed in agricultural engineering where the suitability of a soil is judged for
crops. The term is not used in soil
engineering. In order to eliminate the
term loam, the Mississipi River
Commission (USA) propC6td a
modified triangular diagram (Fig. 5.3).
'The term loam is replaced by soil
engineering tenns such as silty Clay.
The principal oomponent of a soil is
taken as a noun and the less prominent KEY
component as an adjective. For
example, silty clay contains mainly
particles of a clay, but some silt
particles are also present. It must be
noted that the primary soil type with
respect to behaviour is not necessarily
the soil type that constitutes the largest
part of the sample. For example, the
general character of a mixed soil is
determined by clay fraction ii it
exceeds 30%0-
Right Triangle Chart. Since the 1000;---;;:~~-''''':'---';;'-=--c;;;---;:'---;;;""
sum of the percenta'ges of sand, sill and
clay size particles is 100%, there is no SILT
need to plot all the three percentage.
The percentage of sand particles can be Fig. S.J. Modified Triangular Di~ram.
found by deduction from 100% the sum of percentages of sill and clay particles. It is possible t9 determine
the textural classification by locating the point of intersed.OO of lines representing silt and clay. as shown in
right.triangle chart (Fig. 5.4).
The right-triangle chart is more convenient than the conventional lriangular chart as it involves only
orthogonal arrangement of grid lines.
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Official (AASlITO) Oassification system is

useful for cl~ifying soils for highways. The

particle size analysis and the plasticity
characteristics are required to classify a soil. The
classification system is a complete system which
classifies both coarse-grained and fine-graillCd
soils. In this system, the soils are divided into 7
types, designated as A-I to A-7. The soils A-I
and A-7 are further subdivided into two
categories, and the soil A-2, into four
categories, as shown in Table 5.1.
To classify a soil, its particle size analysis is
done, and the plasticity index and liquid limit
are determined. With the values of these
parameters known, one examines the first
(extreme left) oolumn of Table 5.1 and
ascertains whether the known parameters satisfy
the limiting values in tbat column. If these
satisfy the requirements, the soil is classified as
A-J-a. If these do not satisfy, one enters the lJJ 50 60 70 80 90 100
second oolumn (fcom the lerl) and determines SILT
whether these satisfy the limiting values in Ihat
column. The procedure is repeated for the next Fig. 5.4. Righi Trillngle chllrt.
column until the column is reached when the known parameters satisfy the requirements. The soil is elassified
as per nomenclature given at tbe top of that oolumn.
The soil with the lowl!!;t number, A-I. is the most suitable as a highway material or subgrade. In general,
the lower is the number of soil. the more suitable is the soil. For example, the soil A-4 is better than the soil
A·5. In Table 5.1, the column for soil A-3 is to the left of the rolumn for soil A-2. This arrangement is only
to determine the classification of the soil. This docs not indicate that soil A-3 is more suitable for highways
than A-2 soil.
Fine-grained soils are further rated for their suitability for highways by the group index (GI), detennined
as follows:
GI - .(F -35)[0.2 + 0.005 (w,-4O)J + O.OI(F -15)(/, - 10) ... (5.1)
where F:::: percentage by mass passing American Sieve 00. 200 (size 0.075 mm). expressed a<i a
wbole number.
WI :::: liquid limit (%) expressed a<i a whole number,
lp :::: plasticity index (%). expressed as a whole number.
Eq. 5.1 is somelimes expressed as
GI = 0.2 (F-35) + 0.005 (F-35) (WI - 40) + om (F-I5) (/,-10)
While calculating' Gl from the above equation, jf any term in the parentheses becomes negative. it is
dropped, and not given a negative value. The maximum values of (F-35) and (F-15) are taken as 40 and that
of (wI- 40) and (Ip - 10) as 20.
The group index is rounded off 10 the nearest whole number. If the computed value is negative, the group
index is reported as zero. The group index is appended 10 the soil type delennined Crom Table 5.1 . For
example A-6 (15) indicates the soil type A-6. having a group index of 15. The smaller the value oC the group
index, the better is the soil in that category. A group index of zero indicates 8 good subgrade. whereas a group
index of 20 or greater shows a very poor subgrade. The group index must be mentioned even when it is zero
to indicate that the soil bas been claMified as per AASlnu system.

Table 5.1. AASHTO Classificadon System

Getleral Granular materials More than 35% passing No. 2()() Sieve
Classificalion (35% or less passing No. 200 Sieve (0.075 mm) (0.075 mm)
A---Z A-7
Group ~-;:i...--
A-3 A---4 A-5 A--<S ~
CltUSi{icarion A-l~ A-l-l> A---l-4] A----2-S[ A---.2--6j A---.?-7 A-7--6
(0) Sieve Analysis;
Percent Passing
(I) 2.00 mm (No. 10)
50 '""
(ii) 0.425 mm (No. 40) 3{) rna> '0.,., Simin
(ii,) 0.075 rnm (No. 200) 15"", 25 rna> 10 max I 3S max I 35 max I 35 max I 35 max I 36 min I 36 min I 36 min I 36 min

(b) ~-~~
(,) Liquid limit 40 max
I 41 min
I 40 max
I 41 min 40 mal[
I 41 min 40 max
I 41 min
<ii) Plasticity index 6 max N.P. 10 max 10 max 11 min 11 min 10 max 10 max 11 min 11 min· g:
(e) Usual types of Stooe Fragmenrs 3
signific8n1 Gravel and sand Fine Sand Silty or aayey Gravel Sand Silty Soils aayey Soils !A
ConsIituenl materials ~
(d) General rating as
subgrade. Excellent., Good Fair 10 Poor g~
• If plasticity index is equal 10 or less thaD (liquid Limit-30), the sal is A-7-5 (i.e. PL> 30%) ~
If plasticity index is greater than (I.iquid limil-30), the sojl is A-7---6 (i.e. PL < 30%) 0
The Unified Soil Classification System (USC) was rlrst developed by Casagrande in 1948. and later, in
1952, was modified by the Bureau of Reclamation nnd the Corps of Engineers of the United States of
America. The system has also been adopted by Americ.1n Society of Testing Materials (ASTM). 1ne system
is the most popular system for usc in all types of enginccring problems involving soils. The various symbols
used are given in Table 5.2.
Tuble S.2. Symbols used in USC System
Symbols Description
Primary G Gravel
S Sao"
M Silt (Symbolh M obtained from the
Swcdis word 'mo')
c ao,
o OrganiC
p, poo,
Secondary w Well.graded
P Poorly graded
M Non-plastiC fines
C Plastic fines
L Low Plasticity
High plasticity

The system uses both the panicle size analysis and plasticity charaderistics of soils, like AASHfO
system. In this system, the soils are classified into 15 groups (Thble 5.3). The soils are first cmssiried into two
(I) Coarse-grained soils-If more than 50% of the soil is retainOO 01] No. 200 (0.075 mm) sieve, it is
designated as coarse--graincd soil. There are 8 groups of coarse--grained soils.
(2) Fine-grained soils-U more than 50% of the soil passes No. 200 sieve, it is called fine-grained soil.
There are 6 groups of fmc*grained soils.
1. Coarsc_grnined Soils-The coarse-grained soil., are designated a'i gravel (G) if 50% or more of coarse
fraction (Plus 0.075 mm) is retained on No.4 (4.75 mm) s ieve; otherwise it is termed sand (S).
If the coarse--graincd soils contains less than 5% fines and are well-grnded (W), they are given the
symbols GW and SW, and if poorly graded (P). symbols GP and SP_ The criteria for well·grading are given
in Table 5.3. If the coarsc*grnined soils contain more than 12% fines. these are designated as GM, Ge, SM
Of SC, as per aiteria given. If the percentage of fines is between 5 to 12% dual symbols such as GW-GM,
SP-SM, are used.
Z. Fine-grained Soils-Fine-grained soils are further divided into two types . (1) Soils of low
compressibility (L) if the liquid limit is 50% or less. These are given the symbols ML, CL and OL. (2) Soils
of high compressibility (ff) if the liquid limit is more than 50%. These are given the symbols MIl, CII and
OIl. The exact type of the soil is determined from the plasticity chart (Fig. 55). The A·line has the equation
" = 0.73 (w,- 20). II scparntes the days from silts. When the plasticity index and the liquid limit plot in tbe
hatched paction of the plasticity chan, the soil is given double symbol CL- ML.
The inorganiC soil ML and Mil and the organic soils OL, OH plot in the same zones of the plasticity chart.
The distinction between the inorganic and organic soiis is made by oven-drying. If oven drying dccrcnscs the
liquid limit by 30% or more, the soil is classified organic (OL or Off); otherwise, inorganic (ML or MIl)
Highly Organic Soils-Highly organic soils are identified by visual inSpection. These soils are termoo


AASlITO system is for finding out the suit.1bility or otherwise of soils as subgrade for highways only.

Tuble 5.3. Unified Soil Classification Syslem

Group Typical
Major Division Symbols Classification criteria
Well graded C" > 4

Coarsc-Graincd Gravel (50% or a"" grovels C~-1Io3
Soils. more of coarse Gravels Poorly graded Not meeting both criteria foc
IMorethan fraction retained GP gravels GW
50% retained on No.4 sieve
AlIcrbergumits Ancrberg

on No. 200 (4.75 mm)]
below A-line or Limits in
sieve (0.075 GM Silty grovels
plasticity index hatched area
Gravels less than 4 GM-GC
with Auclberg Limits
fines ;.-il11 above A.Jine
GC Gayey gravels
::;g ~ and plasticity
index greater

~~~l thon?
ell :> 6
SW O_~'5 C~ _ I
$and [more thon Clean "','" to 3
50% ofooarse
faction passing
No.4 sieve
Poorly graded

NOI meeting both criteria for

(4.75 mm») ·~l~ Anerberg Limits Anerberg

~ [".g>
below A-line or Limits in
SM Si[IY sands
plasticity index hatched area
So"", ,g~!1 [ less tban 4 SM-5C

with Atlcrberg limilS
fines above A-line
SC Oayey sands
na~ and plasticily
index greater
~§:€£ than 7
Inorganic sillS
Fine grained Silts and clays Liquid ML of low
soils [50% 0< limit 50% or less plasticity
more passing Inorganic
No. 200 sieve dayso£low
(G.I175 mm)) CL 10 medium
OL or low
plasticity See Plasticity Chart (Fig. 55)
SillS and days Liquid Mil of high
Limit greater than 50% plasticity
CH days of high
Orgnnic clays
011 of medium of
high plasticity
Peat. muck
Highty organic Soils "'" oil""
" highly
organic soils
Visual-manual identification

.. )0

U \~ ______ ."".,.,,-.""'"" " " / " '

l"'li ' /,
Fig. 5.5. Plilsticity chm1 (USC).
USC system is for detcrmining the suitability of soils for gencrJI use. Both the systems, however, have the
same basis. They classify the soils according to the particle si:.r.c analysis and the plasticity characteristics.
Both the systems divide the soils into two major categories, namely, coarse-grained and finc--grained soils.
'Ihe following differences between the two systems arc worth mentioning.
(1) According to AASIITO system, a soil is tcnncd fine-grained if more than 35% passes No. 200 (0.075
mm) sieve, whereas in the USC system, if more than 50% passes Ihat sieve. In this respect, the
AASl-rIU system is somewhat bcuer because the soil behaves as fine-grained when the percentage
of fines is 35%, and thc limit of 50% in USC system is somewhat higher.
(2) In AASH1U system, sieve No. 10 (2.0 mm si7.c) is used to divide the soil into gravel and sand,
whereas in USC system, sieve No. 4(4.75 mm size) is used.
(3) In USC system, the gravelly and sandy soils are clearly separated, whereas in AASHlU system,
clear demarcation is not done. The soil A-2 in the laller system contains a large variety of soils.
(4) Symbols used in USC system are more descriptive and arc more easily remembered than those in
AASfHO system.
(5) Organic soils are also classified as 01.. and 011 and as peat (PI) if highly organic in USC system. In
AASHTO, thc[c is no place for organic soils.
(6) USC system is more convenient to use than the AASHlU system. In the Jailer, the process of
elimination is required whid1 is lime-consuming.
Tilble 5.4. Approximate Equivillence Between AASnm and USC System
MSHTO System usc system (most probable)
A-l-a GW,OP
A-l-b SW, SM, OM. SP
A-2-4 aM, SM
A-2-5 OM, SM
A-2-6 GC,SC
A-2-7 aM, OC, SM, SC
A-3 SP
A-4 ML, OL, Mil, OH
A-S MIl, OH, ML, on
A-6 CL
A-7-5 on, MH,CL,OL
A-7.{'J CH,CL,OH

Table 5-4 gives approximate equivalence in both the SystCffiS. If the soil has been classified according \0
onc system, its classification according \0 the other can be determined. However, the equivalence is only
approximate. For exact classification, the corresponding procedure should be used.
Indian Standard Classification (Isq syslcm adopted by Bureau of Indian Standards is in many respects
simiLar \0 tbe Unified Soil Qassification (Usq system. However, there is one basic difference in llle
classification of fine-grnincd soils. The finc- grained soils in ISC system are subdivided into three categorics
of low, medium and high compressibility instead of two categories of low and high compressibility in USC
system. A brief oUlline of Qassif}cation and Identificalion of Soils for general enginccring purposes (1S:
1498- 1970) is given below. For romplete details, the reader should ronsult the code.
ISC system classifies the soils into 18 groups as per Tables 5.6 and 5.7.
Soils are divided into three brood divisions:
(1) Coarsc-grained soils, when 50% or more of the total materiaL by weight is retained on 75 microlllS
(2) Fine-grained soils, when more than 50% of the total material passes 75 micron IS sicve.
(3) If the soil is highly organic and contains a Large percentage of organic matter and particles ct
decomposed vegctrltion, it is kept in a separate category marked as peat (P,),
In aU, there arc 18 groups of soils: 8 groups of coarse- grained, 9 groups of fine-grained and one of pea.
Basic soil components are given in Table 5.5. Symbols used arc the same as in USC system (fable 5.2).

Table 5.s, Basic Soil Components in ISC System

Panir:le sire ran~ and

Soil Soil componenis Symbol den;riplioll
Roundl'tl to angular, bulky, hard, rock, particle; average
(i) Coarse· Boulder None diameter more than 300 mm
Rounded 10 angular, bulky. hard, rock panicle; average
Cobble None diameter smaller than 300 mm bul ralained on 80 mm IS
Rounded 10 angular, bulky, hard, rock: particles; passing 8l
mm IS sieve but retained on 4.75 mm IS sieve
Gravel G Course: 80 mm to 20 mm IS sieve
.'Ine : 20 mm to 4.75 mm IS sieve
Rounded to angular, bulky, hard, rock particle; passing 4.75
mm IS sieve, but retained on 75 micron sieve
Course: 4.75 mm to 2.0 mm IS sieve
"'' ' ' Medium: 2.0 mm [0 425 micron IS sieve
Fine: 42.') micron [0 65 micron IS sieve
Silt M Pllnides smaller [han 75 miaon IS sieve; identified by
(iI) Fine-grained behaviour, that is, slightly plastic or non-plastic reganlles
components of moiscure and exhibits lillie or no strength when air-dricd.
a., c Pllnicles smaller man 75 micron IS sieve : identified by
behaviour, that is, it can be mOOe to exhibit plastic:
propcnies within a certain considerable scrength when ail
OrganiC maTtl!r 0 Orgonic moner in various sizes and stages Ii
: to
;05 "


S, 20

:~ 10
7 ------
IS £ 4 ---- __
-.2(' Ol
00 10 20 30 J5 40 50 60 70 00
of liquid limit I"I) ',.
Fig. 5.6. PI~slicily Chart (ISC)
\. Coarse-grained &ils----Coarse-grained soils are subdivided inlo grovel and sand. lhc soil is termed
gfllvel (G) when more than 50% of coarse fraction (plus 75~) is retained on 4.75 mm IS sieve, and termed
sand (S) if morc than 50% of the coarse fraction is smaller Ihan 4.75 mm IS sieve. Coarse-grained soils are
further subdivided as given in Table 5.6 into 8 groups.
2. Fine-grained Soils---lbe fine-grained soils are fun her divided into three subdivisions, depending upon
the values of the liquid limit:
(0) Sills and clays of low compressibility-These soils have a liquid limit less than 35 (represented by
symbol L).
(b) Sills and clays of medium comprcssibility-These soils have a liquid limit greater than 35 but less
g' than 50 (represented by symbol I).
(c) SUts and Clays of high compressibility-These soils have a liquid limit greater th<m 50 (represented
by symbol 1-1).
30 Fine-grained soils are further subdivided. in 9 groups as given in T:lble 5.7.
Sometimes, it is not possible to Classify a soil into anyone of 18 groups discussed above. A soil may
75 possess characteristics of two groups, either in particle size distribution or in plasticity. For such C.1SCS,
boundary classifications occur and dual symbolS arc used.
(a) Boundary classification for coarse-grained soils
The following boundary classification can occur:
(I) Boundary classifications within gravel group or sand group can occur. The following classification
'Y are common.
~. GW--{;P, GM-GC, GW-GM, GW--{;C, GP-GM
SW-5P, SM-5C, SIV-5M, SW-5C; SP-5M
:ic While giving dual symbols. first writc a coarser soil then a finer soil.
u, 1(2) Boundary classification can occur between the gravel and sand groups such as
GW-Sw. GP-Sp, GM-SM, and GC-SC
of The rule for ~ classification is to favour the non-plastic classification. For c1C.3mple, a gravel with
10% fines, C" = 20 and Ce = 2.0 and lp = 6 will be classified as GW-GM, and not GW-Gc.

lil.ble 5.6. Classification or Coarse-grained Soils (lSC System)

G=p Typical
Dil;siml Subdi\lis;CNI lAboratory Criteria Remark

(1) Come- Gravel (0) dean (l)GW Well Co. grnterthan 4 When lines

""'' ' '

soils (More
than half of
(more than
fmaion is
(Fines less
than 5%)
C~ between I and 3 are between
5% 10 12%,
border line
material is larger than (2)GP Poo<l, Not meeting all gradation .",.,.
larger than 4.75 mm IS graded requiremcflIsforGW requiring
75-mieron sieve) gravels dual
IS sieve Gravels (;\)GM Silty Ancrberg Aucrberg symbols
size) with gravels Limits Limits plotting such as
appreciable below above A-line GP-GM,
:Jmount of A-line or /p with lp bclwen SW-SC,
fi nes (Fines 11!SSIhrin4 4 and 7 are
more [han border-line
12%) (4) GC ChJYcy Alterberg cases requiring
gravels limits above
use ofduul
A-line and symool
fp grater GM-GC
than 7
Sand (S) Clean sands (5)SW Well- e" greellter than 6
(More than (Fines less graded e~ between I and 3
half of coarse than 5%) ",ds
fraction is
(6) SP Poorly- Not meeting all gradation
smaller than
4.75 mm IS gr.>dod requirements for SW
sieve) "",ds
Sands with (7)SM silty Atterbcrg Alleraerg's
appreciable urnils plotting
amout of
""'' ' Limits
A-Jincor Ip
above A-line
with Ip
(Fines more Jess Ihan 4 between 4 and
than 12%) 7 are border-
(8) SC Claycy Attcrberg line'l::ases
"",ds limits above requiring use
Aline with of double
Ip grealer symbols
Ih3n7 SM-SC

(b) Boundary classllication for fine-grained soils.

(1) Within the same compressibility subdivision, such as
First write a coarser soil when there is a choice and then a finer soil.
(2) Between low and medium oompressibil ity. such as
ML-Ml, CL-Cl, OL-Ol
(3) Between medium and high compressibility
ML-MH, Cl -CH, 0/-011
(c) Boundary Classilicatlon between coarse-grained a nd li ne-gruined soils.
Boundary classificalion can ocx::ur between a coarse-grained soil and a fine-grnincd soil, such as

Thble 5.7. Clas."mClltion or Fine-grained Soils (lSC System)

Group Laboratory Crileria (ue Fig

DhisiOlJ Subtiil'isiOll Symbols Typicaillames Remarks

2) Fine- Low· {l)ML Inorganic silts Atterbcrg Anerberg (1) Organic "d
gruined soils compressibility with nOne 10 limits plol limits pioting inorganic soils
(more than (L) (Liquid low plasticity below A-line above A-line plotted in the same
Limit less or /p less with Jp zone in plasticity
SO% """
75~ IS sieve) tnan 35%) than 7 -='10
chan are distinguis-
hed by odour and
(2) CL Inorganic Altcrberg (hatched colour 0' liquid
clays of low limits plot zone) ML-CL limit ,,~ aftcr
plasticity above A-line ovcn-clrying.
andJp greater A roduaion
than 7 liquid limit after "
ovcn- drying to a
(3) OL OrganicsiUs
of low
Atlcrbcrg limits plot below
value ,,,' than
three- founh of the
plasticity liquid limit before
ove,· drying
Inteonediate (4) MI Inorganic sillS Atterberg limits plot below positive "
compre,<;sibility ofmcdium A·line identification
(I) plasticity of organic soils.
(Uquid limit
greater than
35% but less
than 50%
(5)CI Inorganic Auerbcrg limits plot above (2) ",,,,, amon
clays of A-line soils 01 India lie
medium along a band partly
plasticity 'bo,,, .h,
and panly below tho
(6)01 Orgaic silts Alterbcrg limits plot below Aline
of medium A-lillC

High (7)MH Inorganic silts Auerberg limits plot below

compressibiliy of high A-line
(11) (Liquid compressibility
than 50%) (a)eB loorganic Auerberg limits plot above
clays of high A-line
plasticity See. plasticity
chnrt (Fig. 5.6)
(9)OH Organic clays Altcrbcrg limits plot below
of medium 10 A-line
high plasticity

(3) Highly 1'< Peat and Readily identified by colour,

organlcsoil oth~r highly odour, spongy feel and fibrous .
organic soils


The soils can be identified in the field by conducting the following simple tests.
The sample is filSt. spread on a flat surface. If more than 50% of the particles are visible 10 the naked
~ye (unaided eye), the soil is coarse-grained; otherwise, it is fine grained. The One- grained particles are

smaller than 751l size and are not visible to unaided eye. lbc fraction of soil smaUer than 7511 size., that is,
the clay and sill fradion. is referred to as fines.
(1) Coarse-grained Soilr-If the soil is coarse-grained. it is further identified by estimating the
percentage of (a) gravel size particles (4.75 mm to 80 mm), (b) sand size particles. (75J.L to 4.75 mm) and (e)
silts and clay size panicles (smaller than 7511 size). Gravel panicles are larger than 4.75 mm size and can be
identified visually.
If the percentage of gravel is greater Ihan that of sand, the soil is a grovel; otherwise, it is sand.
Gravels and s.1nds are further classified as cle.-m if they contain fines less than 5% and as dirty if they
contain fioes more than 12%. Gravels and sands containing 5 to 12% fines are given ooundary classification.
The fine fraction of the coarse-grained soils is identified using the procedure given below for fine· grained
soils to determine whether it is silty or clayey.
To difJercntiate fine sand from silt, dispersion Icst is adopted. When a spoonful of soil is poured in a jar
full of wa:er, fine sand settles in a minute or so. whereas silt t.'1kcs 15 minutes or more.
(2) Fine·grained soils--U the soil is fine-grained, the following tests arc conducted for identification 00 i
the fmetion of the sOil finer than the 425-micron IS sieve to differentiate silt from clay.
(a) Dilatancy (reaction to shaking) test-A smaU pat of moist soil of aboul 5 ml in volume is prepared.
Waler is added to make the soil soft but not sticky. "be pal is placed in the open palm of one-hand and
shaken horizontally, striking against the other hand several times during shaking. If the soil gives a positive
reaction, the water appears on its surface which changes t("l a lively roosistcncy and appears glossy. When the
pat is squeezcd between the fingers, Ihe watcr and gloss disappear from the surface, It becomes stiff and
ultimately crumbles.
'fl1e rapidity with which water appc.'1rs on the surface during shaking and disappears during squeezing 1<;
used in the identification of fine-grained soils (pJbles 5.8). The larger the S:7..e of tbe particles, the quicker is
the reaction. The reaction is called quick if water appears and disappears quickly. The reaction is tcnned slow
if water appears and disappc.'1rs slowly. For no retlction, Ihe water docs nol appear at the surface.
(b) Toughness test-The pHI used in Ihe dil:lt:lncy test is dried by working and remoulding until it has
tbe consistency of pUlly. 'Ibe lime required to dry the pal depends upon the plasticity of the soil.
'Ibe pat is rolled on a smooth surface or between the palms inlo a threads of aboul 3 mm in diameter,
The thrc.'ld is folded and re- rolled to reduce tbe water is soil, due to cvaporation by heat of hand, until the
3 mm diameter thread just crumbles. The water content at that stage is equal to the plastic limit and the
resistance to moulding at that stage is called the toughness.
After the thread crumbles, Ihe picces of the sample are lumped together and subjected to kneading until
the lump also crumbles. lbe tougher the thread at the plastic limit and the stiffer the kneaded lump just
before it crumbles, the higher is the toughness of the soil. The toughness is low if the thread is weak and the
soil mass cannot be lumped together when drier than plastic limit. TIle toughness is high when the lump can
be moulded drier than plastic limit and high pressure is required to roll the thread.
The toughness depends upon the polency of the colloidal clay.
Table 5.8. Field Identification Tests

Quick None 10 Sl~ Quick Noo, Slow Stow 10 None NonclO
(a) DiJDlancy
very slow 10 slow very slow

(b) lbughness
None Medium Low None Medium Low Low 10 lIigh
Low "
medium medium

None Medium Low Low Medium Low to Low to High 10 Medium

(c) Dry strength
of low to high medium medium very high 10 high

(oj Dry st"mgl" I..I-Th, 1"" of the w;J i, completely dried by ak drying, ,un drying 0' ovcn'd'l'' : J

The dry strength is determined by breaking the dried pat and crumbling it betwcc.n finger.;. The dry strength
is a mea<>ure of plasticity of the soil. The dry strength depends upon the colloidal frndion of the soil.
The strength is termed high if the dried pat cannot be powdered at all; medium, if considerable pressure
is required; and low, if the dry pat can be easily powdered.
Table 5..8 can be used for the field identification of different soils.
General characteristics of the soils of various groups as classified by ISC system and USC system are
given in Table 5.9. The information given in the table should be considered as a rough guidance about the
engineering properties of soils. For complete information. the tests should be oonductcd and the engineering
properties determined.
Thble 5.9. General PropeUes or Soils

Soi/Group Permeabiliry Compres,~ibility SlIear Slrenglh Workability

(a) Gravels
GW Pervious Negligible Exccllent Excellent
GP Very pcrvioUo'l Negligible Good Good
GM Semi-pervious
'0 Negligible Good Good

GC Impervious Very low Good to fair Good

SW Pervious Negligible Excellent Excellenl
SP Pervious Very low Good Fair
SM Semi.pervious to Low Good Fair
SC Impervious Low Good to fair Good
Plasticity silt &.
ML,MI Semi-pervious to Medium Fair Fair
CL,CI Impervious Medium Fair Good to fair
OL,OI Scmi-pervious to Medium Fair Fair
(d) HIgh. plasticity
MH Semi.pervious to High Fair to poor Poo<
CII Impervious High 1'<"" Poo<
OH Impervious High
Note. Highly organic SOils (PealS) are not used In englneermg works. """ Poo<


Dlll'ltrative Example 5.1. A sample of soil was tested in a laboratOf)', and the following observations
were recorded:
Liquid Limil ::: 45%, Plastic Limit = 16%
U.S. Sieve No.

No. 10
(2.0mm) I No. 40
(0.425 mm)
I No. 200
(0.075 mm)
Percentage Pa&<>ing 100 I 91.5 I SO.O I 60.0

Classify the soil according to MSlflV system.

Solution. Plasticity Index = 45 - 16 = 29%
Referring to Table 5.1, and proceeding from the extreme left column to right, the first column in whidl
the properties fit is A-7.
1b a<>certain whether the soil is A-7-5 or A-7-6. the value of (wl- 30) is required. In this case,
wl- 30 = 45 -30 = 15%
As Ip > (WI - 30), the soil A-7-6,
From Eq. 5.1. u\king F = 60,
Group Index = (F - 35) [0.2 + 0.005 (w/ - 40)J + 0.01 (F - \5)(Jp -10)
GI " (GO - 35)[0.2 + 0.005 x 5)] + 0.01 (40)(19)
= 13.3, S,ly 13.
The soil is classified as A-7-6 (13).
Illustrative Example 5.2. Classify the soils A and /1, with Ihe properties as shown below, according ID
USC system.
% passing
No.4 sieve I % possing

I 45 29 100 59

I I " 100 B5

Solution. (a) Soil A. As more than 5()% passes No. 200 sieve, the soil
is fine·grdincd.
As WI is Less than 50%. the soH is of low plasticity. 'mc Atlerberg limits plot above the A-line in Fig. 5.5.
'Ille soil is classified as CL.
(b) Soil 8. The soil is fine-grained. As the liquid limit is greatcr than 50%. the soil is of high
compressibility. The Allcrberg limits plot below A-line. It can be either MH or OH. If the soil is OH, ilS
liquid limit will decrease considerably on oven·drying.
lIIustrntive Example 5.3. Classify th~ soil with the following properties according to ISC system.
Liquid Limit PlassidlY index % passing % passing
I I 4.75 mm sie\'e I 75JAsieve
40% I 10% I 60% I 45%

Solution. As more than 50% is rctClincd on 75", IS sieve, the soil is marse-grained.
Coarse frJction = 55%; Gravel fraction = 40%; Sand frdcUon = 15%
As more lhan half the coarse-fraction is larger than 4.75 mm IS sieve, the soil is gravel.
The soil has more than 12% fines. it can be either GM or GC.
As the Anerberg limits plot below A·lioe (Fig. 5.6), the soil is GM.
Illustrative Example 5.4. Fig E 5.4 ,fIIOWS the grain size distribwion curves for two soils A and B. Tht
plasticity characteristics of the sails are given below.
son A Liquid Limit = 40%; Plasticity Index = 10%;
Soil B Liquid Lilll/'t = 28%; Plasticity Index = 12%
Classify lhe soils according to IS classification and COII/menl on their sheor strenglh.

'"ffi 2of--l-----1f-r-:;l-""--t--t-i-t-i

Fig. E-S.4.
Solution. (a) Soil A. As more than 50% pffiSCS 75~ sieve. the soil is line-grained. The Allcrberg limits
plot below A-line (Fig. 5.6) in the zone of intermediate compressibility. It can be either MI or 0/. If the liquid
limit reduces \0 thrcc-founh of the original value or more on oven drying, it is IS; oIherwise MI.
(b) Soil 8. As more than 50% of Ihe Iolal material is larger than 75 I-' sieve. the soil is coarse- grained.
Coarse fmction = 87%,
Gravel fmetion = 37%;
Sand fmelion = 50%.
As more than half of coarse fraction is smaller than 4.75 mm sieve, the soil is sand. As fines are more
than 12%, the soil can be SA{ or Sc. As the Atteroerg limits plot above A· line (Fig. 5.6), the soil is Sc.


A. Numerical
5.1 Allerbcrg ]imil ICstS were carried out on 11 soil sample, with the following rC5ults:
Liquid limit'" 40%; Plastic limil '" 2S%.
Oassify Ihe soil according to Unified Oassifjeltion system and the Indian Standard classification system.
[Ans. CL; CI]
5.2. The follOWing results were obtained [rom Ihe classification tests of a soil.
Percentage passing 7Sjl sieve = 40%
Liquid limil = 35%; Plastic Limit = 15%
calculate the group index of lhe soil and dassify il aocording 10 AASl-ITO system. [Ans.4; A-6(4)]
5.3. The sieve analysis of a soil gave the following results :
% passing 75~ sieve:: 4; % ret:lined on 4.75 mm sieve'" 50
Coefficient of curvature = 2; UniformilY ooefficienl = 5
Classify Ihe soil according to ISC sySlem. [Ans.GWJ
5.4. The sieve analysis of a soil gave the following results:
%passing 75~ sieve ", 8; % retained on 4.75 mm sieve", 35
Coefficient of curvature '" 2.5; Uniformily ooefficient ~ 7
The fine frnClion gave the folJowing results :
Plasticity index = 3; Liquid Limit = 15.
Classify Ihe soil according 10 ISC system. [Am;. SW-SM}
5.5. Ascii has Ibe following charnCieristics:
% ~ng 75~ sieve = 58%; liquirl Limit = 40%
Plasticity Index = 10%; liquid lim!1 of oven-dried sample", 25%
Classify the soil according 10 ISC syslcm. [Ans.OI]

B. Descriptive and Objective Type

5.6. What is the use of classll'ication o f soils? Discuss Indian Standard Classific.::uion system.
5.7. What IS the difference betwC\:n Ihe classiHcation based on particle size and the textural classification? Oiscuss
the limit:llions of the two systems.
5.8. Comp,m~ the AASHTO clns~ilic;\tion system nnd Unifk'<.l soil c lassification system. Why the latter system is
morc commonly used?
S.? Give the slcp~by-~1Cp procc.dure for r.:lassification of a soil by India n st:lndard classification system.
5.10. Discuss rickl idcnlilil'<ltion methods for soils
5 .11 . Give the general engineering properties of difTerent types of soils classified accordmg [0 Indian standard
classification system
5. 12. Smte whether Ihe fo llOWing 5tmements are true or false :
(a) At"Cording 10 all cl;tSSI(ication s),stems. the soils below 211 si1.e arc classified as clay size.
(b) According 10 MIT 1>),stem. the soils with particle sib! larger than 4.75 mm arc classified as gravel.
(c) The texture of a soi l dcpend~ onl)' on the particle sIze.
(d) In AASHTO sy~ tcrn. the soil A-2 is better than the soil A-3.
(e) The group index of b!ro indicates :t soil of very poor qunlity.
(j) The group index of a wil cnn be negmivc.
(8) According to USC system. the fine.grai ned soils are of 9 types.
(h) The !'>Oil with pnrtieles size less th:m 211 arc clayey soils.
(I) A co.arsc·gramcd sand is wcll.grnded if C.· = I to J and C~ is greater than 6.
v) Oven-drying reduces th e liquid limit of an inorganic soil considerably.
(k) The fine.grnincd soils with a high percentage of colloidal froction ha ve high d ry strength.

C. Multiple·Choice Questions
t. IS classification ()fsoil is in many respects simi lar to
«(I) AAS HTO classificmion (b) Tcxlurn! classitkation
(t') Unified soil elilssilication (d) MIT clnssificmion
2. The maximum Sill! of pMticks of silt is
(a) 75 11 (b) 60 11
(e) 2 11 (d) 0.2 11
3. The maximum Si7.1! of parl iclc.~ or clay is
(0) 0.2 mm (b) 0.02 mm
fe) 0.002 mm (d) 0.0CI02 mm
4. Acconling to IS classifiC<11ion system. the soils can be cl.1ssilit"(,,1 into
«(I) 15 groups (b) 18 groups
(e) 3 groups (d) 7 groups
5. The soils which pl01 above the A line in the pl.1sticity chart flrc
«(I) cl!Jys (b) silts
(e) sands (tl) organic soil s
6. A silty soi l gives a positive reaction in
(a) Toughness tes t (b) Dilmancy test
(c) Dry strength test «(I) None of above
7. A soil has the liquid li mit of 30. TIle cQrresponding plasticity index given b)' the A·li ne is
(tl ) 7.3 (b) 7.5
(e) 9.0 (d) 9.5
8. The max imum value of the term (F. I 5) in the group index is taken as
(a) 20 (b) 30
(c) 40 (d) 60
Clay Mineralogy and Soil Structure

The coarse-grained soils generally contain the minerals quartz and feldspar. These minerals are strong and
electrically inert. The behaviour of such soils docs not depend upon thc nature of the mineral present. The
behavior of fine-grained soils, on Ihc other hand. depends to a large extent on the nature and characteristics
of the minerals presenl. The most significant properties of clay depend upon the type of mineral. The
crystalline minerals whose surface activity is high are clay minerals. These clay minerals imparl cohesion and
plasticity. The study of clay miner.lls is essential for understanding the behaviour of clayey soi ls. Clay
mineralogy is the the science dealing with the structure of c lay minerals on microscopic, molecular and
atomic scale. II also includes the study of the mineralogical composition and electrical properties of the clay
particles. The study of clay minerals is important for particles smaller than about 2 micron size.
Soil struclIlre means the geometrical arrangement of soil particles in a soil mass. It is concerned with
the shape. si7..e and orientation of particles. If the individual particles are packed very close to one another,
the void ratio is low and the soil is dense and strong. If the particles are so arranged that there are more
voids, the soil is loose and weak. Engineering properties and behaviour of both coarse-grained and
fine-grained depend upon the structure.
This chapter is mainly devoted 10 clay mineralogy. The soil struclure is considered in the last section. In
fact. clay mineralogy also discusses the structure of clayey soils nOi as a whole mass but at a particle level.
The gravitational force in a soil particles is proportional to its mass. As the specific gravity of particles
is approximately constant, the gravi tational force is proportional to the volume of the particle. TIle volume
depends upon the particle size. Thus. the gravitational force on a particle is related to the particle size. In
other words. the larger the particle size, the greater would be the gravitational force. '
Bonding or surface forces betwecn particlcs depend upon lhe surface area of the particles and not upon
the volume. The surface area also depends upon the particle size .. However. the surface forces become more
important only when the paticle size is small. As the particle size decreases. the effect of surface forces on
a particle becomes more predominant than the gravitational force.
The re lative magnitude of volume and the surface area can be judged if we consider, say, a cube whose
each side is 10 mm (volume = 103mm\ When the cube is subdivided into smaller cubes. the ratio of the
surface area to the volume increases, as shown in Table 6.1. The ratio increases ten thousand times when the
side of the smaller cube becomes I micron. The magnitude of the surface area per unit volume (or mass) is
known as specific l·urface.
The particles of coarse-grained soils are larger than 0.075 mm size. For such soils, the ralio of surface area
to the volume is relatively small. These soils do not possess pla~ticity and cohesion which are predominant only
when the surface forces .are large. In fine-grained soils, the gravity forces are relatively insignificant compared

Tuble 6.1. Ratio or SUrfllce area to Volume

Surface area
Number of
~rfQCe area Vofumll!! ""=e
2 J
(mm /mm )
1. 10mm 1 600 mm2 Ht'mml Q.60
2- 1 rom 10' 6xlolxl 6.0

3. 0.1 nun 10' 6 x 106 x 0.01 60.0

4. 0.01 nun 10 6 x 109 x (0.01)2 600.0

5. 0.001 mm 10 6 x 10 12 x (0.001)2 6000.0

with the surface [orces. The fine~grained soils possess the plasticity characteristics depending upon the surface
area, the type of minerals and the nature of environment present around thc soil particle.
A material in which the surface forces arc predominant is known as a colloid. ll1c lenn colloid has been
derived from Greek words kolla and Didos, meaning a glucy material and alike. For colloids. the ratio of the
surface area to the volume is very large. It varies between 6(X) to las mm2/mml:r1le dayey soils with
particles smaller than 2 micron size arc generally colloidal in nature. The colloids have very large speciflc
Primary valence bonds hold togethcr the atoms of a molcrule. These are of two types:
(1) Ionic bond, (2) Covalcnt bon(1.
1. Ionic bond-In an atom, the electrons carrying a negative charge revolve about Ihe nucleus. Sane
elements have an excess or a deficiency of the electrons in the outer shell. One alom joins another alom by
adding some of the electrons to its outer shell or by losing some of electr0n5 from ilS outer shell Fer
example, an atom of sodium has an exress electron in its outer shell and an atom of dllorinc has one
deficient elearon in its outer shell. A molecule of sodium chloride is fonned by ionic bond when an atom of
sodium combines with an atom of chlorine. TIle atom which loses an ion becomes a JXl!>itive io!] (cation) and
that which gains an ion becomes a negative ion (anion). In ionic bonds, the forces bind the positive ions and
negative ions.

The number of electrons required to oomplete the first six shells individually are respectively. 2, 8, 8, i.8,
18 and 32. The total number of electrons required to oomplete are, IhereCorc , 2. 10, 18. 36, 54 and 86. The
deficiency or excess of electrons in a particular shell of an element is determined from the number of
electrons available and that required to complete the outersheU. For example,
aluminium has 13 electrons. It has an excess of 3 electrons over the second 1
shell (total 10 ekx:trons). IJkewise, oxygen whiCh has 8 electrons, lack 2 elec:- ~ 0
Irons in the second shell (total 10 electrons). An atom of hydrogen has equal Ai) ~
excess and deficiency. It has only one electron which can be oonsidered either ~
as one deficient in the first shell or one excess elearon. Likewise, the alom of
silicon has 14 electrons which has equal excess and deficiency of 4 each. It has
+, ~~ 61
an excess of 4 over the second shell or a deficiency of 4 in the third shell (total
18 electrons). See lbble 6.2 for ionic structure of various elements. A.I ~
The atoms of two different elements combine to satisfy their individual ~
deficiency or excess. For example.. when aluminium and oxygen combine two ~ fl
atoms of aluminium (excess 6) combine with 3 atoms of oxygen (deficiency 6)
to form aluminium oxide (Fig. 6.1). Fig. 6.1. Aluminium oxide

Table 6.2. Ionic Strudure of Various AtORlli

Number of Defficiency in Excess in

S. No. Element Symbol E/~/ron outershcll oulershell Remork

Hydrogen Can either lose

II -I • I



-4 ..
or goin one ion

Can either lose

or gain 4 ions

5. 26 .8
6. Calcium Ca 20 .2
7. Sodium No II • I
Magnesium M,
K I.
10. Chlorine CI 17 -I

2. Covalent Bond-Covalcnl bond develops between two atoms by sharing of electrons in their outer
sheU. lWo atoms, each lacking one electron, may combine by sharing of a pair of electrons. Likewise, two
atoms, each lacking two electrons, may combine by sharing four electrons. For example. the bond between
two atoms of oxygen in a oxygen molecule is a covalent bond. Each atom Lacks 2 electrons in the outer sheU.
The two atoms bond by sharing 4 electrons in their outer sheUs. In other words, a covalent bond occurs when
there is sharing of electrons by atoms of like valence. 'The covalent bond occurs generally in clements of
negative valences or in non-electrolytes. such as carbon. (A non-electrolyte does not form ions).
Primary valence bonds are very strong. These do not break in normal soil engineering applications.
lbcrefore, primary valence bonds are not of much relevance in soil engineering. However, the study of ionic
structure is useful in understanding the behaviours of various atoms.


The hydrogen alom has only one elcctron. The number of electrons required to fill the first sheU is 2.
The atom can be oonsidered either as a Oltion (with one excess electron) or an anion (with one electron
deficiency). The bond between the hydrogen :+
cation (HI and anions of two atoms of ~H
aoother element is caUed the hydrogen bond.
The hydrogen atom is attracted by two atoms
instead of only one atom as suggested by its
ionic struaure. The hydrogen atom cannot • r~~~OGEN
decide to which of the two atoms it should ,O'=> L ~
:~ =~;t:~;. ~~e=t i~~: ~~:;: H+ 0-2 H;r----L-{
or the hydrogen bond is the bond between the
Fig. 6.1. Hydrogen Botrd.
hydrogen atoms and oxygen atoms in a water
molecule. The hydrogen atom links one molecule or water to the other (Fig. 6.2).
A hydrogen alom can bond only two atoms of oxygen, as it is small in size and can fit in only two
anions which are of large size (Fig. 63). In other words. only two anions can approach the hydrogen cation
close enough to fonn a hydrogen bond.
Only the strong electro-negative atoms, such as oxygen and chlorine, can join with hydrogen to form a
hydrogen bond. The hydrogen bond is oonsiderably weaker than primary valence bonds. However, it is fairly
strong and C3MOl be broken during nonnal soil engineering problems.


Secondary valence bonds are intermolecular bonds which develop
between atoms in one molecule to atoms in another molecule. A molecule is o-2- -2
eleariC311y neutral, i.e., it has no charge. However. the construction of the
molecule may be such that the centres of Ihe negative and pooilive charges do
not exactly coincide. 1be molecule may behave like a small bar magnet, with
two electrical poles. Consequenlly, an electrical moment is developed inside Fig. 6.3. A Cllatioo joining
the molecule. A molecule with such a structure is called a dipole. In nature, two anions.
two dipolar molecules orient themselves in such a way that net attraction oc:cun;. The attractive forces so
developed are known as Vander Waul Forces, after Vander Wool who POOlulalcd the existence of a rommoo
attractive forces between molecules of all matters in 1873.
Vander Wanl forces develop due to anyone of the following three effects.
(1) Orientation effect-This effect

occurs between the oppositely charged
ends of permanent dipoles, as shown in
Fig. 6.4.
(2) Induction effect- Even in a
non~polar molecule, a pole can be I+ _I
induced. When a non-polar molecule is ;=====~
placed in an electric field, it gets
polarised and slans behaving as a
' - -_ _-'CJ
+ I .-----+-"
dipole. Induction effect occurs between (a) (b)
an induced pole and another dipole.
(3) Dispersion effect-As all
electrons oscillate, the centre of ~I-_ __+-,' ~I-_ __+-,I
negative charges goc:s on changing (e)
periodically. This results in the
fonnation of a temporary, fluctuating Fig. 6.4. Orienlalion Effect.
pole. Dispersion e[fect occurs between a fluctuating pole and another dipole.
As all moleaJles behave as permanent or induced or fluctuating dipoles, Vander Waal forces are always
present in molecules. These exist in all matters. TIle relative magnitude of orientation. induction and
dispersion effects in a water molecule are 77%, 4% and 19%
respectively. Thus the orientation effect is the most
predominant effect.
A common example of secondary valence bond is the
attractive force between molecules of water: 'Ibe water
molecules . act as a bar magnet because the positive and
negative charges are not centrally located. It may be noted
that all liquids arc not dipoles. Some of the liquids. such as
kerosene and carbon tetrachloride, are non-polar, as shown by
construction in Fig. 6.5.
Vander Waa! forces also develop between the surfaces of
two parallel particles of clay mineral. separated by water. The
magnitude of the forces depend upon the distance between
the clay particles, structure of the minerals and the
characteristics of water.
The secondary val"ence bonds are relalively weak and are G
easily broken. The Vander Wanl forces play an important part
in the behaviour of clayey soils. Fig. 6.5. Non-polar System


Clay minerals are composed of two basic structural units: (1) Tetr.lhedraJ unit. (Z) Octahedral unit.
I. 'Thtrahedrul Unit-A tetrahedral unit consists of a silicon atom (Si~ surrounded by four oxygen
atoms (02-). forming the shape of a tetrahedron. Oxygen atoms are at the tips of the letrnhcdron, whereas the
silicon alom is at its centre (Fig. 6.6). There is a nel negative charge of 4. An individual terabedron unit
cannot exist in nature.

0,,,'0 ---- :- ---

(a) Si lico tetrahedron


(b) Simptifled r epre ~ entotion

4x(_21 '_ 8

S. 4X(.4 ),. .16

Id) Sil ica

Net g _4
Ie) Sili ca ~heet

Fig. 6.6. Tetrahedral Unit.

A number of tetrahedral unit combine 10 form a sheet, with oxygen atoms at Ihe base of aU tetrahedra in
a common plane, and aU the lips pointing in the same direction. Each oxygen atom at the base is shared by
two tetrahedra. A SHiCll sheet is formed by ternhedrnl units. The three oxygen atoms at the base being
common to two tetrahedra get their negative marge shared and the lip oxygen atom has two negative charges.
Thus, there are 5 negative charges and 4 positive charges, leaving a nci negative charge of one per
tctrnhedron. Fig. 6.6 (c) shows 4 tetrahedra units combined and
having a net negative charge of 4. Fig. 6.6
(d) gives a simple representation of silica sheet, commonly used in clay minerals.
2. Octahedrul Unit-An octahedral unit consists of six hydroxyls (OIrl) forming a configuration of an
• ALUMIN ...... )K • I X(H)=+3


" • 4X{+3J.-1-12 c=::J.

Fig. 6.7.<fctabedraJ Unit.

octahedron and having one aluminium atom at the centre (Fig. 6.7). As the aluminium (Ar·~ has three
positive charges, an octahedral unit has 3 negative eh.'lrges. Because of net negative charge. an octahedral unit
eannOi exist in isolation.
Several octahedral units combine to form a gibbsite sheet. Fig. 6.7 (c) shows a gibbsite sheet formed by
four octahedral units. The sheet is electrically neulral. Fig. 6.7 (d) shows a simple representation.


It is possible that one atom in a basic unit may be replaced by another atom. The process is known a<;
isomorphOUS subStitution (isomorphous means same form). For example. one silicon atom in a tetrahedral unit
may be substituted by aluminium atom. This would occur if aluminium atoms are more readily available in
water. A.. an aluminium atom has 3 positive charges whereas a siliron alom has 4 positive charges. there
would be a nct unil charge deficiency of one positive charge per substitution. Likewise. magnesium (M{1
atoms may replace aluminium atoms in an octahedral unit and cause a reduction of one positive charge.
Isomorphous subsLitution generally incI'C.:'lSeS the negative charge on the particle, owing to reduction of
positive charges. A slight distortion of the crystal lattice also usually occurs due to isomorphous substitution.
Kaolinite is the most rommon mineral of the kaolinite group of minerals. Its basic structural unit consists
of an alumina shect (gibbsite) (G) combined with a silica sheet (S). TIps of the silica sheet and one base of
the alumina sheet form <1 common interface. 'The
total thickness of the structural unit is about 7
Angstorm (A 0), where one Angstonn A ° is equal
to 10- 10 m or 10- mm. 'Ibe kaolinite mineral is

fonned by stacking, one over the other, several

such basic structural units. Fig. 6.8 shows two
such unils.
The structural units join together by hydrogen KAOLINITE
bond, which develops between the oxygen of
Fig. 6.8. Kaolinite Mincl1I1.
silica sheet and the hydroxyis of alumina sheet. As
the bond is fairly strong. the mineral is stable. Moreover, water cannot easily cnter between the structural
units and cause expansion.
The kaolinite mineral is elcctricaUy neutral. However, in the presence of water, some hydroxyle iOO5
dissociate and lose bydrogen and leave the crysml with a small residua] negative charge. l11e nat surfaces of
the mineral attract positive ions (cations) and water. A thick layer of adsorbed water is formed on the surface.
'The kaolinite minerals generally have a hexagonal shape in pIon. with the side of the hexagon between
0.5 to 1.0 micron. The thickness of the mineral is about 0.05 micron. lbe specific surface is about 15 ro 2/g.
The most common example of the kaolinile mineral is China Clay.
HalloysUe is a clay mineral which has the same basic structure as Kaolinite. but in which the successive
structural units are more mndomly !XIcked, and are separated by a single molCQllar layer of water. The
properties of haUoysite depend upon this water layer. If the water layer is removed by drying, the properties
of the mineral drastically change.
Halloysite particles are tubular in shape, in contrast to the platy shape of kaolinite particles. The soi~
containing haUoysite have a very low mass density.
Montmorillonite is the most common mineral of the montmorillonite group of minerals. 1bc basic structural
unit consists of an alumina sheet sandwiched between two silica shccts. Successive structural units are stacked
one over another, like leaves of a book. Fig. 6.9 shows two such structural units. The thickness of each structural
unit is about 10 AO.
The two successive structural units arC joined together by a link betwccn oxygen Ions of the two silica

sheets. 1bc link is due to natural altr:1clion for

the cations in the intervening space and due to
Vander W.nal forces. lhe negmivcly charged
surfaces of the silica sheet attract water in the
space between two structural units. This results
in an' expansion of the mioeral.. It may also
cause dissociation of the mineral into indivKlual
structural units of thickness 10 A o • The soil
containing a large amount of the mineral
montmorillonite exhibits high shrinkage and
high swelling characteristics. The water;n the
inlerventing space can be removed by healing at
200° to 300°C. Fig. 6.9. Mootmonl1onite minel1ll.
Montmorillonite minerals have lateral dimensions of 0.1 I1 to 05 11 and the thickness of O.OCI1 I.l to 0.005 ",.
1lte specific surface is about 800 m /gm.
The gibbsite sheet in a montmorillonite mineral may contain iron or magnesium instead of aluminium.
Some of the silicon atoms in the silica sheet may also have isomorphous substitution . This results in giving
the mineral a residual negative charge. 11 atlracts the soil water to fonn an adsorbed layer, which gives
plasticity characteristics to the soil.
lliite is the main mineral of ·the illile group. The basic structural unit is similar to that of the mineral
montmorillonite. However, the mineral has propenies different from montmorillonite due to following
(I) There is always a substantial amount of isomorphous substitution of silicon by aluminium in silica
sheeL Consequently. the mineral bas a larger negative charge than that in montmorillonite.
(2) The link between different structural units is through non- exchangeable pota<>Sium (Kj and not
through waler. This bonds the units more firm ly than in montmorillonite (Fig. 6.10).
(3) The latticc of illite is stronger than that
of montmorillonite, and is, therefore. less
susceptible to Cleavage.
(4) Illite swells less than montmorillonite.
However, swelling is more than in
kaolinite. "[ •

(f) ~~ ~e ~~:~ s~~~~nt ~:ctu~

montmorillonite, as the potassium ions
just fil in between the silica sheet
Fig. 6.10. Illite MinernJ.
The properties of the mineral illite are somewhat intermediate betweeD that of kaolioite and
montmorillonite. The bond between the r.on-exchangeable K'" ions, though stronger than that in
montmorillonite, is considerably weaker than hydrogen bond of kaolinite. The swelling of illite is more than
that of kaolinite, but less than that of montmorillonite.
'll1e lateral dimensions of the mineral illite are the same as that of the mineral montmorillonite, equal to
0.1 fA. to 05 fA.. However, the thickness is much greater than that of montmorillonite and is between 0.005 Il
and 0.05 ",. 'The specific surface is about 80 m2/gm,
As mentioned before, the particles of clay carry an electric charge. This fact can be proved by inserting
two eioctrooes in a biaker containing clay m ixcd with water. When the electrodes are connoctcd to an

electrical <;ircuil containing a battery and an ammeter, there is a deflection of the needle of the ammeter. This
proves Lhat there is a flow of current through the medium. 1beoretically, a soil particle can carry either a
negative charge or positive charge. However, in aClu~ll tests. only negative charges have been measured.
The net negative charge may be due to onc or more of the following reasons.
(1) Isomorphous substitution of one alom by another of lower valency.
(2) Dissociation of hydroxyle ion (OlI) into hydrogen ions.
(3) Adsorption of anions (negative ions) on clay surface.
(4) Absence of cations (positive ions) in the lattice of the crystal.
(5) Prcsencc of organic matter.
The magnitude of Ihe electrical Charge depends on Ihe surface area of Ihe particle. It is very high in small
particles. such as colloids, which have very large surface area. A soil particle attracts the cations in the
environment to neu!!TIlise the negative charge. 'lbe phenomenon is known as adsorption. :
The cations attracted to the negatively charged surface of the soil particles are not strongly attached.
These em ions can be replaced by Olher ions and are, therefore, known as exchangeable ions. TI1e soil particle
and the exchangeable ions make the system neutral.
11m phenomenon of replacement of cmions is called cation eXChange or base exchange. The net negative
charge on the mineral which c::m be 5.:1tisfied by eXChangeable cations is termed cation-exchange capacity or
base-exchange capacity. In other words, base--cxchange capacity is the capacity of the clay particles to change
the cation adsorbed on the surface,
Basc-cxchcmgc capaCity is expressed in teons of the total number of !JOS:ilive charges adsorbed per 100
gm of soil. 11 is measured in milliequivalent (meq). which is equal to 6 x lOw electronic charges. Thus, one
rneq per 100 gm means that 100 gm of material can exchange 6 x lOw electronic Charges if the exchangeable
ions are univalent, such as Na+. However, if the exchflngc.1ble ions are divalent, such as ea 2+, 100 gm of
m<lteriai will replace 3 x 102<1 calcium ions.
According to flnother definition, one milliequivalent (mcq) is alSo equal to one milligram of hydrogen Il'
its equivalent other material which will replace one milligram of hydrogen. For example, calcium has a
molecular weight of 40, whereas that of hydrogen is unity. However. calcium is divalent in contrast to
hydrogen which is univalent. Therefore. one mg of hydrogen is equivalent to 20 mg of calcium in base
exchange capacity. If 100 gm of a dry material adsorbs 60 mg of calcium, the base eXChange capacity of the
material is 60/20 i.e. 3 meqllOO gm.
The base-eXChange capflcity of clay depends upon the PII value of the water in the environment. If the
water is acidic (PH < 7), the base-exchange capacity is reduced.
Some cations are more strongly adsorbed than others. The adsorbed cations commonly found in soils,
arranged in a series in terms of their affinity for allraction arc as follows:
AI3+ > ea 2+ > Mg+2 :> NH; :> I-r > Na+ :> U+
For example, AI3+ calions are more strongly attracted than ea'2+ cations. '01OS Al3+ ions can replace Q,2.
ions. Likewise. ea 2+ ions can replace Na+ ions.
The base formula of the clay mineral is altered by base exchange. For example, if calcium chloride is
added to a soil containing sodium chloride. there would be an exchange of o?+ ions for Na+ ions, and the:
sodium clay would tum into the calcium clay. Thus
Sodium clay + Cl 2 = Calcium clay + NaC!.
The properties of the clay therefore (.tlange due to base eXChange.
The base eXChange capacity of the montmorillonite mineral is about 70--100 meq per 100 gm. However,
that of kaolinite and illite fire respectively 4.0 and 40.0 mcq per 100 g.
The faces of clay minerals carry n net neg<ltivc charge. 'l11e edges of the mineral may have either positive

charges or negative chargcs. The chnrgcs in clay minerals are due to molecular grouping and arrangement of
ions. The electrical charges in the minerals are responsible for their behaviour when they come in contact
with other panicles and with water prescnt in the soil. Clay deposits, because of their sedimentary nature,
always exist in the presence of water.
~ecause of the net negative charge on the surface, the clay particles attract cations, such as potassium,
calcium and sodium, from moisture present in the soil to reach an electrically balanced C<juilibrium. These
cations, in tum, attract panicles with negative charges and water dipoles.
(The engineering behaviour of coarse particles is not affected by surface electrical charges, because of
their low ratio of surface area to volume. In such soils, the gravitational forces are more important).
The plasticity characteristics of Clays are because of the unusual molecular structure of water in soil
deposits. Experiments conducted with clays using nonpolar liquid, such as kerosene, in place of water, has
shown that plasticity does not occur, and the soil behaves as a coarse.grained sands soil.
The water molecule is a dipole, since the hydrogen atoms arc not symmetrically oriented around the
oxygen atoms. The molecule acts as a bar magnet (Fig. 6.11). As the faces of clay panicles carry a negative


H/~ ~
Fig. 6.11. Structure of a water molecule. (ul Model, (b) Relatillc location, (e) Dipole water molecule
charge, there is aHraction between the negatively Charged faces and the positive ends of dipoles [Fig. 6,12
(a)] . 1be secood mode of attraction between the water dipoles and the clay surface is through cations [Fig.
6.12 (b)]. Cations are attracted to the soil surface and waler dipoles are attached to these cations through their

=000 (a)
(b) (c)

Fig. 6.12. AltrllClion of water molecules 10 soil SwfflCe.

negative charged ends. The third possible mode by which the attraction between the water and the clay
surface occurs is by sharing of the hydrogen atom in the water molecule by hydrogen bonding between the
oxygen atoms in the clay particles aod the oxygen atoms in the waler molecules [Fig, 6.12 (e)].
The cations attracted to a clay mineral surface also try to move away from the surface because of their
thenna! energy, The nel effect of the forces due 10 attraction and thnt due 10 repulsion is that the forces of
attraction decrease exponentially with an increase in distance from the clay particles surface. The layer
extending from the clay particle surface to the limit of atlroction is known as the diffuse dQuble layer (Fig. 6.13).
It is believed that immediately surrounding Ihe panicle, there is a thin, very tightly held layer of water
about 10 A 0 thick. Beyond Ihis thickness there is a seoond layer, in which water is more mobile. This second
layer extends to the limit of attraction, and is known as diffuse-double layer (Fig. 6.13). The water held in
lhe diffuse-double layer. is known as adsorbed water or oriented water. Outside the diffuse double layer the
water is nonnal. non·oriented. The total thickness of the diffuse-double layer is about 400 A 0,

For ;) given soil panicle, the thickness of the

cation layer depends maiill)' on the valency and
concentration of cations. The mono-valent cations.
such as Na+, lead to a thicker layer compared to
that by divalent cations, such as Cu2+. The number e Ie 9 e
of monovalent cations required is twice the number
of divalent cations. Increasing the conccntratior. of
6)' $ e (tI @Cation
s : . $9 e 9 Anion
cations clooe to the surface, reduces the thickness • I., e _
of the cation layer required to neutralise the
negative Charge.
Repulsion occurs between the like charges of
the two double layers of two particles. 'Ibe forces
• I ••
e (J

of repulsion between the two particles depend upon

the characteristics of the double layers. An increase
in cation valency or concentration rcsulls in a 'u;"U
decrc.1se of repulsive forces. However, V<mder $g .
Waal forces of altraClion do nOl depend upon the ..f:~
characteristics of the double layer. These forces Distance ___
decrease rapidly with an increasing distance
Fig. 6.13. Diffuse Double Layer.
between particles. Tbe net force between particles
will depend upon the relative magnitudes of repulsive forces and attractive forces. Depending upon the
relative magnitudes, the soil will take either as a dispersed structure or a flocculent structure, as discussed in
Section 6.15.
ll1e water held by electro-chemical forces existing on the soil surface is adsorbed water. As the a
water is under the influence of electrical forces. its properties arc different from that of nonnal water. It is
much more viscous, and its surface tension is also greater. It is heavier !han nonnal water. The boiling poin
is higher, but the freezing point is lower than that of the normal water.
The thickness of the adsorbed water layer is about 10 to 15 AO for colloids but may be upto 200 AG ~
silts. The attractive forces between the adsorbed water and the soil surface decrease exponentially with the
distance until the double layer merges into normal water. The adsorbed water exists in an almost solidifi
state. The pressure required to pull away the adsorbed water layer from the soil surface is very high; it m
be as high as lO,<XXl atmospheres.
Adsorbed water imparts plasticity characteristics to soils. The adsorbed water depends upon the
minerals present in the soil. The presence of highly active clay minerals is necessary to give the soil plasticity•
. 1be fine-grained soils without clay minerals mlly develop cnhcsion if the particle size is very small, but these
soils cannot be moulded into small threads as these are not plastic.
lbe geometric..11 arrangement of soil particles with respect to one another is known as soil structure.
soils in nature have different structures depending upon the particle size and the mode of fonnation.
follOWing types of structures arc usually found. lhe first two types are for coarse-grained soils and types (3
and (4) for Clays. Types (5) and (6) are for mixed soils.
(1) Single-grained Structure-Cohesionlcss soils, such as gravel and sand, are romposcd of bulky
grains in which the gravitational forces ate more predominant than surface forces. When deposition of !Me
soils occurs, the particles settle under gravitational forces and take an equilibrium position as shown in F1g.
6.14 (0). Each particle is in contact with those surrounding it. The soil structure so formed is known as singlr-
grained structure. The arrangement is somewhat similar to the stacking of omnges on a grocer's counter OCIO
that of marble pieces at a toys' shop.

(a) Single Grained Structure (b) Honey - comb Structure

Fig. 6.14. Soil slruclUre ill sallds and silts. (a) Single Graillcd Structure, (b) HOlley-romb Slructure

090 am:: that for the densest state, IS 035 In actual

sand deposits, as the particles are not exactly sphencal,
the vOId raho between the loosesl and densest
conditIOns vanes between 0 90 and 0 35
Depending upon the relative position of the particles. the soil may have a loose structure or a dense
structure. Fig. 6.15 shows spherical particles in the looscst and those in the densest condition. It can be
proved that for the loosest condition, the void ratio is ~

As mentIOned m chapter 3, the engmeerlng

properties of sands tmprovc considerably wIth a

~n~~ra~ ~~d s:~~e~r ~~ I~=~t;~, ~~~tl~~g~~~s:~e (a) LOOSE • (b) DENSE

shear strength, and the lower Ibe compressibility and Fig. 6.15. Sphere<; ill J~sl and densest states.
permeability. Loose sands are inherently more unstable. When subjected to shocks and vibratiOns, the
particles move into a more dense state. Dense sands are quite stable, as they arc not affected by shock
and vibrations.
(2) Honey-Comb Structure-It is possible for fine sands or silts to get deposited such that Ibe particles
when settling develop a particle-to-particle contact that bridges over large voids in the soil mass [Fig.
6.l4(b)J. The particles wedge between one another into a stable condition and form a skeleton like an arch to
carry the weight of the overlying material. The slructure so formed is known as honey<omb structure. The
honey-comb structure usually develops when the particle size is between 0.002 mm and 0.02 mm.
Honey-comb structure occurs in soils having small granular particles which have cohesion because of
their fioeoess. The particles arc helel in p:lsition by mutual attraction due to cohesion. The particles, however,
do not possess plasticity characteristics associated with Clayey soils.
Soils in honey-comb structure are loose. ,[bey can support loads only under static conditions. Under
vibrations and shocks, the structure collapses and large deformations take place. In nature, honey-comb
structure usually occurs in small pockets, and can be easily detected.
Honey-comb structure can also develop when fine sand is dumped into a filling without densification of
or when water is added to dry fine sand. The phenomenon is known as bulking of sand (see chap. 7).
(3) Flocculated Structure-Flocculated ~
struclure occurs in d.IYS. The clay particles ~~
have large surface area and, therefore, the .c::==:o -===-
electrical (orces' are important in such soils. ~o:::=::==s-==-
The clay particles have a negative charge on
the surface and a positive charge on the edges.

::i:~~cJ~ha~~ac~d::sve~~~ th~t;:;tiV~~; Ca) Flocculat~d Structur~ (b) ~tS:U~:~

charged faces. This results in a flocculated
Fig. 6.16. Soil structure in cI~y (a) Phx:culaled Structure,
structure [Fig. 6.16(0)]' (b) Dispen;ed Structure

Flocculent structure is fonned when there is a net attractive force between particles.
When clay panicles settle in water, deposits fanned have a flocculated structure. 'The degree of
flocculation of a clay deposit depends upon the type and concentration of clay particles, and the presence of
salts in water. Clays settling out in a sail waler solution have 3 more []occulent structure than those settling
out in a fresh water solution. Salt water acts as an electrolyte and reduces the repulsive forces between the
Soils with a flocculent structure arc light in weight and have a high void ratio and water content
However, these soils arc quite strong and can resist external forces because of a strong bond due \0 attraction
between p<,rtic1es. The soils are insensitive 10 vibrations. In general. the soils in a Oocculated structure have
a low' compressibility, a high ,penncability and a high shear strength.
(4) Dispersed Structure-Dispersed structure develops in clays tlmt have been reworked or remoulded.
The particles develop more or less 8 parallel orientation {Fig. 6.16 (b)l. Clay deposits with a flocculent
structure when transported 10 olher places by nature Of man get remoulded. Remoulding converts the
edge·to-face orientation to face-to-face orientation. The dispersed structure is fonned in nature when there is
a net repulSive force between particles.
'The soils in dispersed structure generally have a low she~r strength, high compressibility and low
permeabilily. Remoulding causes a loss of strength in a cohesive soil. With the passage of time, however, the
soil may regain some of its lost strength. Due to remoulding, the chemical equilibrium of the particles and
associated adsorbed ions and water molecules within the double layer is disturbed. The soil regains strength
as a result of re- estoolishing a degree of chemical equilibrium. This phenomenon of regain of strength with the
passage of time, with no change in water content., is known as thixotropy, as already disaJssed in chapter 4.
(5) Coarse-grained Skeleton-A coarse-grained skeleta'i'! 'is a composite structure which is formed when
the soil contains particles of different types. When the amount of bulky, cohesionlcss particles is large
compared with that of fine-grained clayey
particles. the bulky grains in
particle-to-particle contact. These pmticles
fonn a framework or skeleton {Fig. 6.17 (a)].
The space between the bulky grains is
occupied by clayey particles, known as
binders. In nature, the bulky grains are
deposited first during sedimentation and the
binder is subsequently deposited.
As long as the soil structure is not Fig. 6.17. Composite SlrUcture (a).coRJSe Grnind Skeltion,
disturbed, a coorsc-gr<lined skeleton can take (b) Clay MafIix
heavy loads without much deformations. However. when the structure is disturbed, tbe load is transferred
from the coarse-.grained particles to clayey particles, and Ihe supporting power and the stability of the soil is
considerably reduced.
(6) Clay-Matrix Structu~lay-matrix structure is also a composite structure fonned by soils of
different types. However. in this case, the amount of clay particles is very large as compared with bulky,
coarse- grained particles [Fig. 6.17 (b)]. The clay forms a matrix in which bulky grains appear floating
without touching one another.
The soils with a Clay-matrix structure have almost the same properties as Clay. Their behaviour is similar
to that of an ordinary clay deposit. However. they are more stable, as disturbance has very little effect on the
soil formation with a clay-matrix structure.


A. Numerical
6.1. A dry mineral has a mass of 100 gm and adsorbs 50 mg of catcium. Determine its base exchange capacity.
(Ans. 2.5 meg per 100 mgJ

B. Descriptive and Obj l.'ctivc type

6.2. Diffcrenti:uc between gravit3tional forc~ and surface forccs. What is the et"ft'Cl of increased surface area on the
propclties 01 )i{ul.~

63. What arc primary valent"\: bonds'! What is their imponancc m soil engmccring '!
6.4. What do you undcrl>t,md by hydrogen bond? Give examples.
6.5. Wh:lI arc secondary valence bonds'! Wrile a shorl nOle on Vander W331 forces.
6.6. Describe the constitution of the two basic structuml units rcqulft'(l in Ihe formation of clay minerals. Are these
ele<:trically nCUlr:Il?
6.7. Discuss the charactcri~l1cs and the construction of Kaolinite. Montmorillonite and Illite mineral groups.
6.8. Write ~hon n(lte~ nn:
(I) Base exchlmge capacity. (ii) lsomorphollssubstitution.
(iii) Electricnl double I.lyer (il') Adsorbed water
6.9. What arc ditfcrent types ot soil Slnlctures which can occur in mllure ·1 Describe is brief.
6.10. STate whet hcr the followlllg statements arc InIC Of fillse.
(a) The l11 il1(:nl l qU:lrtz b electrically act ive.
(b) T he clay minerab li re rcspt.ll1sib le for plaslicty chnrnclC rislics of ~oi l s.
(e) T he hydrogcn hond is stronger than secondary v~tl c n ce bo nds.
(d) I SI' l11orJlhou~ ~ubstillition docs not change the electrical ct13rg<::
(1') The soib containing. thc minerallmlloyshe have .1 high unit weight.
if) The miner'll !l\ulllmurillu11I tC. cause.> excessive swclhng and shrinkage.
l1:) The nd~urbeJ water imparts phlsticity to SOils.
(II) Honey-comb ~tructure occur~ in clayey soils.
(0 Remouldcd tine-grainoo soils have a tlocculat<!d structUI"C. fA ns. T rue. (b). (e). (j). (g)]

C. Multiple-Choice Questions.
1. The behaviour of clay h govemed by
((I) Mass energy (b) Surf:lCe energy
(e) Both (a) and (b) ((/) Nei lher (a) and (b)
2. Honey-combed strut:turc 1~ found in
(a) Gravels (b) Co.lfSC sands
(e) Fi ne ~ands :U1d SIltS (fl) day
3. TIle weakest bond ill ~otl~ I~
(11) Ionic bond (b) Covalent bond
Ie) Hydrogen bond (tf) SecondJry valance bond
4. All O~'lahedrJl unit ha~
(a) Pour neg: llIvc charges (b) Thrcc negative c!mrgc.~
(e) One Il<::galive (If) No negative charge
5. In illi t<:: mineral. Ihebond be twecnstructural u11itsis
\a) Hyd ro;:cn bo nd (b) PQt ~l ssi um i011 bo nd
(e) Water l11ok.-cu lcs bond (tI) COV:l1e11l bond
6. The plas ticity charJcteri~lics of clays arc due 10
(f/) Adsorbed water (b) Free watcr
(r) CapI llary wmer (tI) None of above
7. In tine l>:tnds and ~ihs, the most common type structure is
(II) Smg!c grained (b) Honey comb
(c) Flucculated (II) Disperred
H. The base cxc!mnj,lc l·apacity of lhe mineral montmorrillonite is .. buul
(/1) 70 mt-qI1QO g (b) 700 mav l OO g .
(c) 7 meql100 g {(/) 40 meqf l OO g
~_ J~1~1~~m~W~~7m8~
Capillary Water


The soil water is broadly classified into two categories: (1) Free water, and (2) Held water. Free water
moves in the pores of the soil under the influence of gravity. 'll1e held water is rcwinoo in the pores of the
soil, and il cannot move under the influence of gravitational force.
Free water flows from one point to the other wherever there is a difference of total head. The rate at
which the head is lost along the flow passage is equal to the hydraulic gradient. The flow of free water in
soils is just like laminar flow in pipes. Because of very smaU flow passages in the SOil, the velocity head is
generaUy neglected, and the total head is lakcn equal 10 the sum of the elevation head and the pressure head.
Free water is discussed in chapter 8.
Held water is further divided into three types: (1) Structural water, (2) Adsorbed water, and (3) ,Capillary
water. The structural waler is chemically combined water in the crystal structure of the mineral of the soil.
lbis water cannot be removed without breaking the structure of the mineral. A temperature of more than 300
°C is required for removing the structural water. In soil engineering. the structural water is considered as an
integral part of the soil solid.
lhe water held by electrochemical forces existing on the soil surface is known as adsorbed water, as
discussed in chapter 6. 1be quantity of adsorbed water depends upon the colloidal fraction in the soil the
chemical com~ition of the clay mineral and the environment surrounding the particle. The adsorbed waler
is important only for clayey soils. For coarse.- grained soils, its amount is negligible or zero.
The adsorbed water is also sometimes called hygroscopic water. 1be amounl.of water in an air-dried soil
is defined as hygroscopic water. Since air drying removes capillary water and free water, the remaining water
is approximately equal to the adsorbed water. Hygrosropic water depen~ upon the humidity and temperature
of air. It is assumed !.hal oven drying removes all the hygrosoopic water. The amount of water in an air-dried
sample, expressed as a percentage of the dry mass, is known !:IS hygroscopic water oonteo!.
'fhe water held in the interstices of soils due to capillary forces is called capillary water. This Chapter
discusses mainly the capillary water and its effect on soils.


To under.;taod surface tension, let us oonsider a
molecule of water surrounded by other molerules in
the body of water, as shown in Fig. 7.1 (0). The
forces due to moltx:ular attraction act all 'around, and
the molecule is in equilibrium. However, al the free
surface, as shown in Fig. 7.1 (b), the pull from the la) (b)
air above is smaller than the pull from the water (a) (b)
molecules below and the equilibrium is disturbed. Fig. 7.1. Effed of Surrace tCr15ion .

The forces tend to reduce the surface area of the air-liquid surface to a minimum. The surface assumes a
curved shape to maintain equilibrium. 'l11e intcrfHcc behaves like a stretched membrane or a skin. The surface
tension exists at the interface. Surface tension is defined as the force per urut length of a line drawn on the
surface. It acts in the direction normal to that line. The surface tension of water at normal temperature is
about 0.073 N/m at 20°C. It decreases with an increase in temperature.
It is because of surface tension that a smaU needle can float on water, and insects can walk on it.
7 Capillary water exists in soils so long as there is an air-water interface. As soon as the soil is submerged
under water, the interface is destroyed, and the capiUary water becomes norma~ free water. The capillary
water is always under tension (negative pressure). However, the properties of the capillary water are the same
r as that of normal, free water.
Water rises in small diameter, capillary tubes, beatuse of adhesion and cohesion. Adhesion occurs
because water adheres or sticks to the solid walls of the tube. Cohesion is due to mutual attraction of water
molecules. If the effect of cohesion is less significant than the effect of adhesion, tbe liquid wets the surface
and the liquid rises 1lI the point of contne. However, if the effect of cohesion is more predominant than
adhesion, the liquid level is depressed at the point of contact, as in the case of mercury.
If a glass tube of small diameter. open at both ends, is lowered into water, the water level rises in
the lube, as the water wets the tube. Let 8 be the angle of contact between the water and the wall of the
tube [Fig. 7.2 (a)].

T, r,

'b) ,01
Fig. 7.2. Capillary Rise
F" = Upward pull due to surface tension = (1~ cos 8) 1td
where T, = surface tension and d diameter of the tube.
F" = Downward force due to mass of water in the tube
_ y.(,/4 d') x h.
where h~ = height of capillary rise.
For equilibrium, F" - Fd
(T.cos9) xd _ y.(xl4d')h.
41~cos8 4 T,cos 9
h. - ----:;::;t" - KP.:d ... (7.1)

For a clean glass tube and pure water, the meniscus is approximately hemispherical, ie. 8 = O. 1berefore,

h .. 41~ ... (7.2)

~ y",d
Taking T, .. 0.073 N/m. y", .. 9810 N/m'\
4 )( 0.073 3)( 1D....~
h~.. 9810 d .. - - d - melres
where d is in mctres.
If d is in cenlimctcrs. ht .. 3 )( dlO- metres

If he and d both arc in em, h~_¥cm ... (7.3)

Capillary rise in tubes of non-unifonn diamcter depends upon the direction of flow of watcr. If a tube
with a largc bulb is dipped in water. the water is lined due to capillary action. but it may not rise past the
bulb where the diameter is d 2 lFig. 7.2 (b)J. The capillary rise is limited to a height of (hell because water
cannot maintain equilibrium at a large diameter d2•
If the same tube, with a large bulb is fiUed by pouring water from above or by lowering the tube below
the water level and then raising when filled. an equilibrium is maintained at a height (hfh [Fig. 7.2 (c)l. '[be
water is able to maintain equilibrium at the diameter d j above the bulb.
lllUs the capillary rise in lubes of non-uniform di(lmeler is more if the flow is downward than when it is
upward. The capillary rise docs not depend upon the shape and the diameter of the tube below the meniscus
when tbe flow is downward. In upward flow. the capillary rise is terminated if the diameter of the lube is
greater than that required for equilibrium.
The height of capillary rise docs not depend ulX>fl the inclination of the tube. Even if the capillary tube
is inclined, the vertical rise of water remains the same, equal to hf'
In a capillary tube of uniform
diameter, no water can be retained
when lined. The upward forces (F..)
due 10 surface tension arc balanced by
downward forces (Fd) at tbe lower end
[Fig. 7.3 (a)l. However, if (he (ube is
necked, witb smaller diameter at lOp,
the upward force (F..) is greater than
the downward force (Ftil. and some
water can be retained in the tube [Fig.
7.3 (b)].
, . FcJ
12 ~o,-i T2
'd" T2 12


The water in a capillary tube is (a)
under a negative pressure, commonly
called tension. The pressure variation in Ag. 7.3. CapiltAI)' Tube when lined
the capillary tube of Fig. 7.4 (a) can be dctennined as follows. lhe pressure at point D at the free surface is
2tmospheric Le., equal to zero gauge pressure. (In soil engineering, generally gauge pressures are used). The
pressure at point C. which is at lhe s.'lme level as point D, is also zero. From laws of bydrostatic, the pressure
at point B. which is at a height of hf above the free surface. is given by
Po" - 'f .. A ... (7.4)
The pressure is negative because it is less thnn mmospheric pressure. In other words, tbe wmcr at point
B is under tension.
The capillary rise at any point E is II, nod therefore the pressure is given by

!l F-

Fig. 7.4. Pressure Variat ion.

PE .. -Yw h

The capillary tension, therefore, varies linearly with the height of point above the water surface, as shown
in Fig. 7.4 (b). The pressure al point F below the waler surface is, of course, positive (hydrostatic).
As the capillary tube is open to atmosphere, the pressure at point A above the meniscus is atmospheric,
i.e. zero. Therefore, the pressure difference across the two sides of the meniscus is equal 10 "twhe. The
pressure difference is also known as pressure deficiency (P").
Thus p" .. "tw h~
Substituting the value of he from Eq. 7.2,

" - y. (4T,) 4T,
y.d - d ...(7.5)
If the meniscus is not herni·spherical and it has diameters d 1 and ~ in two orthogonal di.red.ions, it can
be shown that

" T ( 2 2) ... (7.6)

Capillary water can be likened to hanging of a weight 10 the inside walls of a chimney. The walls of the
chimney support the load and transfer it as reaction to the base. The weight causes compressive stresses in
the walls of the chimney. In a similar manner, the capillary water causes compression in the walls of the gJa<;s
tube. The compressive force (F) is equal to the weight of suspended column of water.

F - (~h,) y. .. :(7.7)

The compressive stress in the wall of the tube can be determined from the contact area and the
compressive force. The compressive stress is constant in the entire height he of the tube.


The water which falls on the ground as rain flows under gravity and passes through the soil and reaches
a surface known as ground water lablt:. The soil is saturated below the ground water table. 1be ieveito which
underground water rises in an observation well is called ground water table or simply water table. TIle ground
water table is also called as the ground phreatic surface, a tenn deriVed. from the Greek word phretJs,
meaning a well. Ground water, which is a fonn of free water, is not static. Il is a moving stream which flows
under gravitational force. The water table is not horizontal. II takes Ute shape according to the topography.
The water is drawn above the water table (abbreviated at WT.) due to capillary action.
A soil mass consists of 8 \lumber of intercoOllecled interstices which act. as capillary tubes of varying
diameters. Although the channels fonned by interconnected interstices are not circular in cross-section, the

results of capillary rise in circular tubes arc useful for understanding the phenomenon of capiUary rise in soils.
The channels formed in the soil arc a sort of capillary lubes of varying diameter but not necessarily vertical.
These capillary tubes may be inclined in any direction.
Capillary rise in soils depends upon the size and grading of the particles. The diameter (d) of the
channels in pore passage depends upon the diameter of the particle. It is generally taken as one·fifth of tbe
effect:~diameler (D10)d::;: ooan;e.grained soils. ffkSQI<.'.W/k.w;;:x:...'VX~~~V

As the capillary rise is inversely Pl'OJXlrtional to the ZONE OF AERATION

diameter of the lube, the capillary rise is small in
coarse-grained soils, bul it may be vcry large in
fine-grained soils. tn some vcry [me-grained soils, it ZONE OF CAPILLARY SATURATION
may be even more than 30 m.
The space above the water table am be divided yW.T.
into two regions: (1) Zone of capillary saturation, in
rig. 7.5. CapillHI)' zone.
which the soil is fully saturated. (2) Zone of aeration,
in which the soil is not saturated (Fig. 7.5). The height to which capillary water rises in soils is known as
capillary fringe. It includes the zone of capillary saturation and a part oC the zone of aeration in which the
capillary water exists in interconnected channels.
The soil above the capillary fringe may contain water
in the Corm of contact water (Fig. 7.6). In this Conn l water ~MOISTURE
Corms a meniscus around the poim of contact. Surfaoe
tension holds the water in contact with soil. Because of
the tension in the capillary water, there is an equal and

opposite Corce induced at the points of contacts which
presses the particles together. The contact pressure
depends upon the water content, particle size. angle of
conlaCt and density of packing. The contact pressure .
dccrcascs as the water cootenl increases because of an Fig. 7.6.
increase of radius of meniscus. EventuaUy, a stage is reached when the contact pressure becomes zero as sooo
as the soil becomes fully saturated.
Terzaghi and Peck (1948) gave a relationship between the maximum height of capillary fringe and the
effective size, as

0~-~ .. ~
where C = constant, depending upon the shape of the grain and impurities.
~ = void mtio.
DlO = effective diameter, the size corresponding to 10% percentage finer.
If D IO is in mm, the value of C varies between 10 to 50 mm 2, and the height (h)max is also given in mm.
If D IO and «ht)mu are in centimeters, C = 0.1 to 0.5 an 2•
Table 7.1 gives representative heights of capillary rise in different soils.
Thble 7.1. Representative Heights or Capillary RIse
S.No . SoU Type Capillary rise(m)
1. fine gravel 0.02 to 0.10
2- Coo",,,,,,, 0.10 to 0.1S
3. Fine sand 0.30 to 1.00
4. Silt 1.0 to to.O
s. C.y 10.0 to 30.0
6. Colloid more than 30.0


.As in the case of a capillary tube. the water in the soil above the water table has a negative pressure. The
soil is in a state of reduced pressure, known as soil suction. TIle soil suction is measured in teno of the height
of water column suspended in soil. Generally. it is expressed in terms of the common logarithm of the height
in centimeters, and is known as PF value. For example, a soil suction of 100 em of water column can be
represented as PF equal to 2, because.
100 = 102cm and logl~ =2
A PF value of zero corresponds to a soils suaioo of 1 an, as loglo = O.
Although the soil suction represents a negative pressure, it is customary to omit the negative sign.
The soil suction can also be represented in pressure unit... using the relaHon,
1 em of water column = 0.0098 N/an 2
The tenacity with which the soil holds the capillary waler is measured in terms of the capillary potential
or matrix potential. The capillary potential ("') is defined as the work done to take away II unit mass of water
from a unit mass of soil. II is numerically equal to the tension (negative pressure) in the soil water but it is
of opposite sign. Therefore,
'i' =-p ... (7.9)
where p is tensioo in soil.
[Note. Some authors express capillary potential as energy per unit mass in kJ/kg_
For example, if p = 1 bar = 100 kN/m2,

height of water column - ~~ _ 10.2 m and lJI - 10.2 )( 9.81 - 100 kJ/kg]

It is worth noting that the capillary potential is always negative. The maximum possible value of '" is
equal to zero when the soil tension is zero, which occurs when the water is at atmospheric pressure. As the
water content in the soil decreases, the tension increases. This causes a decrease in capillary potential. The
capillary potential is minimum when the water rontent is minimum .
Water in the capillary fringe is seldom under equilibrium. It moves from a region of high potential (more
water content) to a region of low potential (less water COIllent). The water starts moving as soon as the
suction equilibrium is disturbed either due to evaporatioo of water or due to an increase in water content. The
velocity of the capillary water is given by
v _ k" . is ... (7.10)
where k" = coefficient of unsaturated permeability,
i, = suction gradient, which is equal to the potential difference per unit length.
Capillary tension develops not only in the soils abOve the water table but also in a soil when its water
CODlent is reduced. When the water content of a saturated soil is reduced by drying, the water recedes into
the interstices of the soil and (onos menisci. As the water content is reduced further, the menisci recede. The
radii of curvature decrease, and there is a rorresponding increase in soil suction.
Fig. 7.7 shows the relationship between the soil suction and the water conlent of a soil. The suctioo at a
particular water content is more when the soil is drying than when the soil is wetling, and a hysterisis loop
is formed. The reason for the differenrx in soil suction is that during drying the release of water [rom the
larger pores is controlled by the surrounding smaller pores, whereas during welting it is not controlled by the
smaller pores. The phenomenon is somewhat sUn ilar to the flow of capillary water in tubes of non- uniform
diameter discussed in Sect 73. The process of drying is analogous to the flow of water in the downward
direction, in which the capillary rise does not depend upon the larger diameter of the bulb.

The increase in soil suction with

decreasing water content is continuous over
the entire range of water content. lIS value
is zero when the soil is saturated and is very
high when the soil is oven dry. When a dry
soil is subme.."ged under water, the meniscus
is destroyed and the soil suction is reduced
to zero. The capillary water changes 10 free

7.9. ~~~~ AFFECTING SOIL ;g

The suction in soils depends mainly on
the following factors:
(1) Particle size-In general the
smaller the particle size, the greater
is the soil suction. 'The soils with Fig. 7.7. Drying lind Weldng Cycle.
fine particles have a large number of small pores with small mdjj of menisci. It results in a large
capillary rise and hence greater suction.
(2) Water content-As the water content of a soil decreases, the soil suction increases and it attains the
maximum value wben the soil is dry. As discussed above, with 8 decrease in water content, water
recedes into smaller pores resulting in the decrease of the radius of curvature of the meniscus.
(3) HIstory or drying or wetting cycle-As diSCl.J$ed in the prereding section, for the same water
content. the soil suction is greater during the drying cycle than in the wetting cycle.
(4) Soli Structure-The soil structure governs the size of interstices in the soils. As the soil suction
depends upon the size of interstices, a change in the soil structure affects the soil suction.
(5) 'Thmperature-A rise in temperature causes a reduction in surface tension (T,) of the water.
Consequently, the soil suction decreases as the temperature increases.
(6) Denseness of soil-As the denseness of a soil increases, generally soil suction ina-eases. When the
soil is loose, with a low density, the pores are of large radius and the soil suction is low.
(7) Angle of contact-The angle of contact between water and SOil. particles depends upon the
mineralogical composition of soils. As
tbe angle of contact (8) increases, the
soil suction deaeases. The soU suction
is maximum when the angle of contaa
is zero.
(S) Dissolved salts-The surface tension of
water increases with an increc'lse in
impurities, such as saIl. Therefore. the
dissolved salts cause an increase in soil
Suction in a soil mass can be measured
l 1
using the following methods:
(1) Tensiometer Melhod-A lensiometer
consists of a porous pot filled with water. The
top of the porous pot is connected 10 a U- tube
containing mercury. The pol is placed in the soil Fig. 7.8. Tcnmomc1er..

whose suction is to be detennined (Fig. 7.8).

llIe soil draws wmer from the porous pot. The process continues till an equilibrium is attained, when the
su<.1ion inside and that outside the pot arc equal. 111e suction (P") inside the porous pot can be calculated.
using the manometer equation (see any text on Fluid MechaniCS). as
O- 13.6h x 9.81 + (II + y) x 9.81 _ p"
pot - -(12.6/1 + y) x 9.81 ... (7.11)
where II = denection of mercury in manometer in metres,
y = vertical intercept betwccn the mercury level in the right limb of the manometer and the
centre of the pot.
The soil suction (P") can be calculated using Eq. 7.11 once the values of hand y have been determined.
llIis method is suitable for delennination of soil suction upto 0.8 bar or 80 kN/m2 or 800 cm of water.
(2) Suction Plate Method-In this method, the soil sample is placed over a porous plate known as
suction plate. The suction plate is in
contact with water in the reservoir (Fig.
7.9). The water reservoir is connected
.-#,'---, POROUS PLATE
to a pipe. A mercury manometer is
<lunched to the pipe as shown. Tbe
other end of the pipe is mnnected to a
vacuum pump.
The soil sample takes water from
the reservoir through the porous plate.
The meniscus in the pipe has <I
tendency 10 move towards left, which
indicates that the waler is being drawn Fig. 7.9. Suction PllIlc.
into the soil. The water meniscus is kept stationary by means of the vacuum pump. 'IlIe soil suction is equal
to Lhe reduction in the pressure as shown by the denection (h) of mercury in the manometer.
This method of measurement is suitable for u suction upto 1 bar or tOO kN/m2 or 10 m of water.
(3) Ccnlriruge Method-In this
method, the centrifuging action occurs
on the soil due to its rotation. The soil
sample is placed on a porous pot as
shown in Fig. 7.10. The pot is encl<Eed
in a brass case which can be rotated
about the centre of rOl.:1lion.
As the rotation occurs, water from POROuS
the soil oomes out and travels through
the walls of the porous pot to the water
reservoir in the bf"o:lss case marke<: with
water level as the water table (W.T.).
The level of the water table is kept
constant, as the excess water passes RUBBER PAD
through the escape hole provided at
that level. The migration of the water
from the soil to the water table
continues till the suction of the water Fig. 7.10. Centriruge Method
left in tbe soil is just equal to that required for equilibrium. The soil suction can he determined as

h - ~
2. (TT-T~ ... (1.12)

where h = soil suction. expressed in terms of the height of water column (log h _ PI')'
0> = rotational speed (rndinns per serond)
'1 = radial distance from the centre of rotation to the water table
'2 = radial distance from the centre of rotation to the middle of the soil sample.
The test is conducted at various speeds to obtain a relationship between the water content and the soil
The centrifuge method can be used for determination of very high suctions, of the order of several
thousands of kN/m 2• For accurate results, thin samples shaD be used. If the sample is relalive!y thick, it is
subjected to an additional overburden pressure due to its own weight and erroneous results are obtained.
The water which migrates upward from the water table to the capillary fringe may freeze if the
atmospheric temperature falls to the freezing point, and the i~ is formed. This results in an increase in the
volume of soil, because when water is ronverted into ice. 1here is about 9% increase in its volume. If the
porosity of the soil is 45% and the soil is sUlumted. the expansion of the soil would be (0.09 x 45) = 4.05%.
In other words, there would be a hc.'lve of about 4 cm in every one metre thickness of the soil deposit. Due
to frost heave, the soil at the ground surface is JiCted. This may cause the lining of light structure... built on
the ground.
The frost heave observed in most of the soils is much more thun a hc..'lve of about 4 cm (ler metre. This
is due to the foct that when the ice lenses are formed in the soil due to freezing of water, the water film from
the adjacent soil panicles is also removed. This disturbs soil suction equilibrium and more water is drawn up
from the water table by capillary action to replenish the water deprived by the ice lenses from the soil
particles (Fig. 7.11). This process may cause a frost heave of 20 \030% of the soil depth.

-===--- ::::::;?NSES III

_____ L ______ L ___ J~Y'L

fig. 7.11. Jee Lenses.
The soils which are prone to frost action are mainly silts and fine sands. These soils have large capillary
rise due to relatively fine panicles. Moreover, water can easily flow through these soils because of fairly good
penneability. In coarse~gmined soils and clayey soiL<;, the frost heave is relatively small. In coarse-grained
soils, the frost heave is limited to about 4%, as there is very little capillary risco Clayey soils, on the other
hand, have very large capillary rise, but their permeability is very low. lhe water cannot move easily thrOUgh
these soils and, therefore, the frost heave is lim itcd. However, if the clayey deposited have fissures and
crack.s, water moves easily and a large frost heave may occur in such soils.
If the temperature persists below the freezing point for a long period. frost penetrates the soil further, and
the depth of the affected soil increases. The depth upto which the water may fl'CC'Le is known as the frosl line.
The basic condition for the formation of the frost he.1ve may be summarised as under:
(I) The temperature in the soil is below freezing point and pen;ists for a long period.
(2) A reservoir of the ground water is available sufficiently dose to the frost line to feed the growing
ice lenses by capillary action.
(3) The soil is saturated at the beginning and during the freezing period.
(4) The soil has sufficiently rugh capillary poIenlial to lin the water above the ground water table.
(5) The soil has good penneabilily so that water moves quiclc.ly through it.

The cracks and fISSure also pennit rapid movement of water.

(6) The soil particles of size about 0.02 mm arc rn05t prone to frost heave.
If a unifOlm soil contains more than 10% particles of the size 0.02 mm or if a well~grndcd soil a:mtains
more than 3% particles of this size, the soil is prone to frpst heave.
The foundations of structures should be carried below the frost depth to avoid possible frost heave after
the completion of the structure. However. highways and runways have limited depth below· the ground surface
and cannot be constructed below the frust line. In soch cases. other meao;ures are taken to reduce frost heave.
as discussed in Sect. 7.13.
7.\Z. FROST nOlL
After the occurrence of frost heave. if the temperature rises. the frozen soil thaws and free water is
liberated. Thawing process starts from the upper layer and moves downwards. The liberated water is trapped
in the upper layer while the lower layers are stiU frozen. The strength of the soil in the upper layer is reduced
due to its softening caused by an increases in water coment. The process of softening of soil due to Iibemtion
of water during thawing is known as frost boil.
Frost boil affects the structures resting on the ground surface:. The effect is more pronounced on highway
pavements. A hole is generally formed in the pavement due to extrusion of soft soil and water under the
action of wheel loads. In extreme cases., the pavement breaks under tramc. and there is ejection of subgrndc
soil in a soft and soapy condition.
'! Coarse-grained soils arc not affected much by (rost boil. as the quantity of liberated water is sman. and
lhal too is drained away quickJy. The soils most prone to the softening effect are s ilty soils. These soils have
low plasticity index and beoome very soft with a small inaease in water roment. Oayey soils are not affected
as much as silty soils since the quantity of liberated water is small and the plasticity index is high.
The frost heave and frost boil cause great difficulties in the maintenance of highways and runways, as
discussed above. The following measures are usually taken to mitigate the ill effects of the frost action.
(1) The most effective method of prevention of frost action is to replace the frost~susccptible soil by coarse-
grained soils such as gravels or coarse sands. In
most cases, the method is not economic..111y fC1l<;iblc
owing to large quantities of soils involved.
(2) The frost action can be prevented by
providing an insulating blanket between the water
table and t.he ground surface. . The insulati"&
blanket ronsists of gravel, and has a thickness of
15 to 30 an. '[be blanket reduces the capillary W.T l7
action and hence the migration of water and the
formation of ice tenses (Fig. 7.12).
(3) A good drainage system prevents the frost Fig. 7.12. Insulating Blanket.
action in two ways: (I) It lowers the water table and thus increases the dislance between tbe ground surface and
the water table. (il) The water liberated during thawing is drained away quickly by the drainage system.
(4) Sometimes additives are used to reduce frost action. Dispersion agents, such as sodium poly-
phosphate, when mixed with soil, decrease the penneability of the soil.
(5) Water proofing materiels and other chemicals are also used to cQ.aoge the adsorbed cations on the clay
minerals to reduce tbe tendency of soils to attract tbe water dipole.
Shrinkage A clayey soil shrinks when water evaporates from it. If water is added to such soils. swelling
takes place. Shrinkage a,nd swelling are characteristics of clayey soil. The coruse-grained soils ha'!: v~ry liule
shrinkage and swelling.

Shrinkage is due to tension in soil water. When tension (negative pressure) develops in water,
compressive forces act on the solid particle. The compressive forces induced in the solid particles are similar
to those induced in the walls of the capillary lube discussed in Sect. 7.4. When the water content of a soil
mass reduces due to eV8lX'ration, the meniscus
retreats. This causes oompression of the solid
particles and hence a reduction in the volume
of the soil mass.
The Strc5SCS in pore water during
shrinkage can be studied from the capillary
tube analogy (Sect. 7.4). Let us consider a soil
mass consisting of spherical. solid particles,
shown in Fig. 7.13. When the capillary spaces . .
bclween the particles are completely filled Fig. 7.13. RClreahng or Mcmscus.
with water, the menisrus forms a plane surface, as indicated by 1-1. The tension in water is zero. As
evaporatjoo takes place, water is removed from the free surface and the meniscus retreats to the position 2~2.
This process causc.s tension in the water and corresponding oomprcssive fo~ces on the solid grains. The
tension developed depends upon the radius of the menisc..'Us.
With further evaporation. the meniscus retrc.'lts to position 3-3 and the rndius decreases. This increases
t.he compressive forces acting on the solid particles. Eventually, when the meniscus attains the minimum
radius. shown by position 4-4. it is fully developed and the compressive forces induced are maximum. Funher
recession of the meniscus docs nOI incremre the compressive forces, as there are n6 pores of smaller radius.
The lower limit of the volume occurs HI the shrinkage limit. At the shrinkage limit. the soil is still
saturated, but there is no free water at the soil surface. Further drying docs not cause a reduction in its
volume as the soil resistance exceeds the compressive forces. As soon as tbe shrinkage limit is reached, the
surface becomes dry. It is indicated by a change in the oolour of the soil surface to a lighter shade.
There may be a small addition.'li shrinkage after the shrinkage limit, but this is usually ignored.
Swelling When water is added to clayey soil which had shrunk by evaporatioo of the pore water, the
menisci arc destroyed. The tension in soil water becomes zero. lbe compressive forces between the solid
particles reduce considerably. Hnd clastic expansion of the soil mass occurs and this causes some swelling.
However swelling mainly occurs due to attraction of dipolar molecules of water to the negatively charged soil
particles. The swelling also depend.. upon a number of other factors, such as mutual repulsion of clay
particles and their adsorbed layers and the expansion of entrnpped air. The mechanism of swelling is much
more complex than that of shrinkage.
ElTects or Shrinkage ond Swelling or Soils
Shrinkage and swelling crc.'lte many problems. as discussed below.
(1) Shrinkage and swelling cause the deformations and stresses in the structures resting on or in the soil.
(2) High swelling pressures develop if the soil has an aa.:ess to water, but is prevented from swelling.
The light strud1!res may be lifted if the swelling pressure ·is excessive.
(3) In semi·arid regions. the clay near the ground surface is subjected to shrinkage during dry periods
and the cracks are formed. During wet periods, the clay swells and the cracks are closed. This
process of the formation and closing of the crocks may cause the development of fissures in soils.
(4) If silt particles drop into the shrinkage cracks formed behind the retaining wall, particles later swell
and force the rctaining wall out of thc plumb. It may cause the failure of the wall if it had not been
properly designed to resist the pre:ssure so developed.
(5) If the soil below the pavements has high Shrinkage and swelling properties, it creates the problems
in the maintenance of highways and runways.
When a clay that had been dried well below the shrinkage limit is suddenly immersed in water, it

disintegrates into a soft. wei mass. The process is known

as slaking of clay. Slaking can be explained as below.

When the soil dries to a water content lower than
the shrinkage limit. some of the voids gel filled with air
(Fig. 7.14). Water enters these air-filled voids when the
'sOil is immersed in water. Jhis causes an explosion of SATURATED VOIDS
the voids, and therefore disintegration of soil occurs.
According to another interpretation. when water Fig. 7.14. Slaking of Clay.
cnler.; the pores. it forms menisci which react against the air in the void. 1be entrapped air is subjecled to
very high pressure and the soil mass disintegrates.
if ~I damp sand is loosely dejXISited. its volume is much more than that when the same sand is deposited
in a loose. dry slate. TIle phenomenon of increase in volume of sand due to dampness is known as bulking
of sand.
In damped Slate, cohesion develops between the particles due to capillary water. The cohesion prevents
lhe particles from taking a stable position. A SOrt of honey-comb structure is formed. The effect is
predominant when the waler content is between 4 to 5%. The increase in volume due to bulking is between
20 10 30% for most s.1Ods.
If the damp sand is smurated by adding more water, the effect of capillary action is eliminated and the
volume of the sand mass is decreased.
In an eanh dam with an impervious core. capillary siphoning may occur (Fig. 7.15). 1be water rises in
tile outer shell due to capillary action. If the crest <top level) of the impervious core is in the rellch of

~=-J"--" •• -' SIPHONING

-~-.,.L.---?0.,- SPILLS OVER COAt)

Fig. 7.15. Capillary Siphoning.

capillary rise, water flows from the· storage reservoir to the downstream over the core. Omsiderable quantity
I of stored water may be lost due to capillary siphoning. To prevent this, the aest of the impervious core
should be kepi sufficiemly high. In other words. the difference of top level of the oore and water level in the
reservoir should be more than the capillary risc in soil of the shell.


llIustrative Example 7.1. What is the negative pressure in the water just below the meniscus in a
capillary tube of diwlleter 0.1111111 filled with watet, The surface tension is 0.075 Nlm and wetting angle is 10
degrees. .
Solution. From Eq. 7.1.
4 T. cos e 4 )( 0.075 )( 0.9848 .. 0.301 m
hr .. -----gp:;J .. 9.81 )( 1000 x 0.1 )( 10-3

Negative pressure .. y",h c " 9.81 )( teXXJ )( 0.301

.. 2952.81 N/ml .. 2.9531tN/m 1

lJIustmllve Example 7.2. Estimate the cnpillQry rise in a soil with a void ratio 0/0.60 and an effective
size of 0.01 mn!. Take C = 15 mm2,
Solution. From Eq. 7.8,

he" e;lo"
0.6 !50 .01 .. 2500 mm .. 205m
illustrative Example 7:3. The PF of a soil is 2.50. Determine the capillary potential of the soiL
Solution. Soli suction .. (10)2.5 .. 316.23 an .. 3.1623 m
Capillary potential .. - 3.1623 x 9.81 )C tal N/m'
.. - 31.02 kN/m2
Dlustratlve Example 7.4. The capillary rise in a soil A with an effective size of 0.02 mm was 6() em.
Estimate the capillary rise in a similar soil B wilh an effective size of 0.04 mm.
(h,h (D",),
Solution. From Eq. 7.8,
(h,), • (D",h

(~2 .. ~:~ .. 2 or (hen" JOan

llIustrative Example 7.5. The capillary rise in sill;s 50 em and IMI in fine sand is 30 em. What is the
difference in the pore size of the twO soils ?

Solution. From Eq. 7.3, he '" 0;: em

For sill, (he)l .. 50 .. °d~ or d L .. 6.0 )( lcrJ an

For fine sand, (heh • 30 - °d~ or d,. - 10,0 X 10..3 an

Difference in pore size • (10.00 - 6.0) x 11r'

• 4.00 x 10-3 em


A, Numeriall
7.1 ~~~~ ~!,~~~a2 r~l ~~, sandy soil which has a void ralio of 0.65 and the effective Si~:::' ~~~~l~i
7.2. The effective size of a soil Is 0,015 mm. Estimate the height of capillary rise. Take surface tension as
0.074 N/m. [Aos. 10 m]
7.3. ;,~~f~~~~e maximum capillary tension for a capillary tube 'of 0.1 mm diameter, Take s[1~~ ;~o:;m~

7.4. The glass vessel shown in fig. P 7.4 is filled with water. It hns two holes of diameter 0.01 em and 0.03 ern as
shown. If a fully- developed meniscus is formed in the upper hole, determine the height h of the wall of the
vesseL [Aos. 20.27 em]
7.5. In Prob, 7.4, if both the holes ore of the some diametcr, equal to 0.Q1 em, determine the cont9Ct angle in the
lower hole if that in the upper hole is zero and h ;; 20,27 an, [ARS. 70.54"1
n. Descriptive and O~edlve Type
7.6. Whnl are different CDtegories of soil Wtltcr ? Dc:saibc in brief,
7.7, Discuss the phenomenon of capillnry rise in soils. What are the factors that effect the height of capillary zone?
7.8. What is soil suaion ? How is it measured? What are the factors thaI affectloH sualon?


Fig. P.7.4
7.9. Differentiat!! bl!tween frost heave and frost boil. Whm is their tHect on soils? How frost actiun can be
prevented ?
7.1D. Write a note on shrinkage and swelling of soils.
7.11. Discuss the phenomena of slaking and bulking.

C. Multiple Choice Questions

1. Capillary rise in 11 small tube i~ duc tl)
((I) Cohesion (b) Adhesion
(e) Both cohe.~ion muJ adhesion (d) Neither (a) nor (b)
2. The surface tension of water at nonnal temperatures is about
(a) 0.73 dynes/Ill (b) 0.73 N/m
(el 0.073 N/m (d) 0.073 kNlm
3. The capi llary rise in clay is usulIlIy between
(a) 0.10 [md 0.15 m (b) 0.3 and 1.0 III
(e) 1.0 and 10.0 m (d) greater than 10 m
4. A pF v~llu e of zero corresponds to a soil section of
(a) I m (b) zero metre
{el I em (d) lOem
S. The frost heave in the following type of soils is gcner~llly high
(a) Coarse sands (b) clays
(e) Fine sands :llld silts (dJ gravels
6. Bulking of s:lIlds is usually
(a) Less than 10% (11) Between 20 to 30%
(el Greater thun 30% (d) Between 10 to 20%
7. The frost heave depth as percentage of the soil deplh in fine sands and sills is about
(0) 4 to 5% (b) 5 to 10%
(el 1010 15% . (d) 20 10 30%
8. A tension of 1kN/m2 corresponds to a cnpillary potential of
Ca) I kJ/kg (b) 10 kJ/kg
(c) 100 kJ/kg (d) 1000 kJ/kg
~_1~~~1~~~~~.~~~ &~
Premeability of Soils

A material is porous if it contains inlenitices. The porous material is permeable if the interstices are
interconnected or continuous. A liquid can flow through a permeable material. Electron photomicrographs of
even very fine clays indicate that the interstices are interconnected. However. the size, cross· seaian, and
orientation of the interstires in diITerent soils arc highly variable. In general. all the soils arc permeable.
The property of a soil which permitS flow of water (or any other liquid) through it, is calkd the
penneability._In other words, the permeability is the ease with which water can flow through it. A soil is
highly pervious when water can now through il easily. In an impervious soil. the permeability is very low and
water cannot easily now through it. A completely impervious soil does nOI pennit the water to flow through
it. However. such completely impervious soils do not exist in nature. as all the soils arc pervious to some
degree. A soil is termed impervious when the permeability is extremely low.
Permeability is a very important engineering property of soils. A knowledge of permeability is essential
in a number of soil engineering problems. suCh as settlement of buildings, yield of wells. seepage through and
below the earth structures. It controls the hydraulic stability of soil masses. The permeability of soils is also
rrquircd in the design of filters used 10 prevent piping in hydraulic structures.
As mentioned in chapter 7, free water or gravitational water flows through soils under the influence of
gravity. Flow of free water depends upon the permeability of the soil and the head causing flow. This chapter
deals with Darcy's law for flow of water, the methods for the determination of permeability and the [adors
affecting the permeability of soils. further details of flow o[ water and seepage problems are discussed in the
next chap{er.
'The total head at any point in a flowing fluid is equal to the sum of the elevation (or datum) head, the
pressure head and the velocity head. The elevation head (l) is equal to the vertical distance of the point above
the datum. The pressure head (ply..,) is equal to the head indicated by a piezometer with its tip at that point.
The velocity head is equal to ';ng. However, [or now o[water through soils. as the velocity (v) is extremely
small, the velocity head is neglected. Therefore, the total head o[ water in soil engineering problems is equal
10 the sum o[ the elevation head and the pressure head. for flow problems in soils, the downstream water
level is generally taken a'i datum. The piezometric level is the water level shown by a piezometer inserted at
that point. l'he line joining the piezometric levels at various points is called a piezometric surface. The
piezometric surface also represents the hydraulic gradient Hnc (HGL). The sum o[ the pressure head and the
elevation head is known as the piezometric head.
Fig. 8.1 shows two vessels A and B containing water at different levels and connected by a small lube
containing soil sample. Let the length of the tube be L. lbe flow takes place [rom the vessel A with a high
head to the vessel B with a low head through the tube. With datum at the water level in the vessel B. the

Point Elevation heod Pressure heod Totol heod

e -IZ hZ h'
Fig. 8.1. Variolti I·[eads.
,e elevation head, the pressure head and the total hcad at three points I, 2 and 3 are also shown in the figure.
The total head at point 1 is h and that at point 3 is zero. llle head h is known as the hydraulic head. It is
d equal to the difference in the elevations of water levels at the entry and exit points in a soil mass. Obviously,
;h it is equal to the loss of head through thc soil. Thc hydraulic head is also known as the effective head.
The loss of head per unit length of flow throujllhc soil is equal to the hydraulic gradient (I),
i _ hl L .. (8.1)
,d whcre h hydraulic head. and L = lcngth of the soil specimen.
The variation of head at various points is represented by the line CD, known as the hydraulic gradient
linc (H.G.L.) or pressure gradient line. If a piezometcr is inserted at any intcnnediate point 2, the water will
of rise upto the level of the hydraulic gradient line at that point. The line CD. therefore, represents a piezometric

surface. It is generally assumed thai the loss of head over the length of the soil sample is uniform and,
therefore, the variation of head is linear.
The flow of free water through soil is governed by Darcy's law. In 1856, Darcy demonstrated
experimentally that for laminar flow in a homogcneous soil, the velocity of now (v) is given by
he v _ ki ... (8.2)
ye where k = coofficient of penneability, i = hydraulic gradient.
The velocity of flow is also known as the discharge velocity or the. superficial velocity.
Eq. 8.2 is known as Darcy's law, which is one of the comcr stones of soil engineering. The discharge q
is ootaioed by multiplying the velocity of flow (v) by the total cross· sectional area of soil (A) nonnal to the
tor d.iredion of flow. Thus
q _ vA - kiA ... (8.3)
he The area A includes both tbe solidS and the voids.
The coetrJcient of permeability can be defined using Eq. 8.2. If the hydraulic gradient is unity, the
,be coefficient of permeability is equal to the velocity of flow. In other words. the coefficient of penneability is
defined as the velocity of flow which would occur under unit hydraulic gradient. The coefficient of
Ihe permeability has the dimensions of velocity [Ln]. It is measured in mmtscc. cmlsee. m/sec, m/day or other
velocity units. The coefficient of penneability depends upon the particle size and upon many other faaors as

explained later. Table 8.1 gives the typical values of the cocflkicnt of permeability of different soils.
Thble 8.1. 1yplcal Values of the Coefficient of Permeability

Coefficient of
Soil Type penneabilily Drainage
S. No.
(mmlsec) properties
Cleangruvel to+ 1 to 10+2 Very good
to 10+1
2 Coarse and medium sands 10- 2 Good
Fine sonds, loose sill 10- 10 10- 2 Fair
4. Dense silt, clayey sillS 1O-~ 10 10-4 p"",
5. Silty day, day 10-3 to 10-5 Very poor

According to USBR, the soils having the coefficient of permeability greater than 10-3 mmJsec are
classified as pervious and those with a value less than 10-5 mm/sec as impervious. The soils with the
coefficient of permeability between 10-5 10 10-3 mm/sec arc designated as semi-pervious.
Darcy's taw is valid if the flow through soils is laminar. 'Inc now of water through soils depends upon
the dimension of interstic.::cs. which, in tum, depend upon the particle size. In fine-grained soils, the dimensions of
the interstices are very small and the flow is necessarily laminar. In coarse-grained soils, the flow is also
generally laminar. However, in very coarse-grained soils, such as coarse grdvels, the flow may be turbulent.
For flow of water through pipes, the flow is laminar when the ReynOlds number is less than 2000.
For flow through soils, it bas been found that the now is laminar if the Reynolds number is less than
unity. For now through soits, the characteristic length in the Reynolds number is taken as the average
particle diameter (D).

where p :: is the mass density and " is the coefficient of viscosity.

Using Allen Hazen's equation (Eq. 8.30) fOr velocity, it can be shown that the maximum diameter of the
particle for the flow LO be laminar is about 0.50 mm.
1bc value of the critical Reynolds number of unity is, however, oonscrvalive. .It has been demonstrated
that the flow remains laminar even upto the Reynolds number of 75. It has been observed thai Darcy's law
is 'laUd for flow in clays, silts and fine sands. In coarse So'u)(IS, gravels and boulders, the flow may be
turbulent and Darcy's law may not be applicable. It is difficult to predia the exact range of the validity of
Darcy's law. The best method to ascertain the range is to conduct experiments and determine the actual
relationship between the velocity v and the hydraulic gradient. For Darcy's law 10 be valid, this relationship
should be approximately linear.
For flow through coarse sands, gravels and ~lders, the actual relationship between the velocity and the
hydrauliC gradient is non-linear. Hough gave the following equation for the velocity when the now is
... (8.4)
where n = exponent. with a value of 0.65
In extremely fine-grained soils, such as a colloidal clay, the interstices are very small. The velocity is
therefore very small In such soiis also, the Darcy law is not valid.


The coefficient of permeability of a soil can be determined using the fol1owing methods.

(0) Laboratory Methods. 'Ibc coefficient of permeability of a soil sample can be determined by the
following methods :
(I) Constant-head penneability test
(il) Variable-bead permeability test.
1lle instruments used are known as permeameters. The fonner lest is suitable for relalh1cly more pervious
soils, and the latter for less pervious soils.
(b) Field Methods. l11e coefficient of permeability of a soil deposit in-situ conditions can be delCrmined
by the following fields methods :
(I) Pumping-OUl tests.
(il) Pumping-in tesls.
The pumping-oul tests influence a large area around the pumping well and give an overall value of the
coefficient of permeability of the soil deposit. The pumping-in Icst innucnces a small area around the hole
and therefore gives n value of the coefficient of permeability of the soil surrounding the hole.
(e) indirect Methods. The coefficient of permeability of the soil can also be determined indirectly from
the soil parameters by
(I) Computation from the particle size or its specific surface,
(it) Computation from the consolidation test data.
The first method is used if the partiCle size is known. The second method is used when the coefficient
of volume change has been determined from the consolidation test on the soil.
(d) Caplllurlty-Penneubility test. The coefficient of permeability of an unsaturated soil can be
determined by the capillarity--permeability test (Sect.. 8.16).
The coefficient of permeability of a relatively
more permeable soil can be dClcnnined in a
laboratory by the conslant-head permeability test.
The test is conducted in an instrument known as
constant-he3d permeameter. It consists of a metallic
mould, 100 mm internal diameter, 1273 mm
effeaive height and 1000 ml capacity aocording 10
IS : 2720 (part XVII). The mould is provided with
a detachable extension collar, 100 mm diameter and
60 mm high, required during compaction of soil.
The mould is provided with a drainage base plate
I h

::: : :a~a:~r :roh~sV~;n:~ ~~etm:a~~~ ~:!":

air release valve. The drainage base and cap have
fillings for clamping to the mould.
Fig. 8.2 shows a schematic skeLCh. The soil
sample is placed inside the mould between two
porous discs. 1bc porous discs should be at least
[en times more permeable than the soil. The porous
discs should be dcaired before these are placed in
the mould. The water lubes should also be dcaired.
The sample can also be prepared in the
pemleameter by pouring the soil into it and
tamping it to obtain the required density. The base
is provided with a dummy plate, 12 mm thick and
108 mm in diameter, which is used when the
sample is compacted in the mould. AI- 8.2. ConsUlnl Head Pemaeamel1cr

It is essential thai the sample is fully saturated. This is done by one of the following three methods.
(l) By pouring the soil in the pcrmeameter filled with water and thus depositing the soil under water.
(il) By allowing water to flow upward from the base to the top after the soil has been plaoed in the
mould. 1ltis is done by attaching the COrlStant-head reservoir to the drainage base. The upward flow
is maintained for sufficicnt lime till aU the air has been expelled out.
(iit) Dy applying a vacuum pressure of about 700 mm of mercury through the drainage cap for about 15
minutes after closing the drainage valve. Then the soil is saturated by allowing dCllired water to enler
from the drainage base. 1be air-release valve is kept open during saturation process.
After the soil sample has becn saturated. the oonstant-head reservoir is connected to the drainage cap.
Water is allowed to flow out from the drainage base for some time till a steady-stalc is established. The water
level in the constant-head chamber in which the mould is placed is kept constant. The chamber is filled to the
brim at the stan of thc experiment. The water which enters the chamber aner flowing through the sample
spills over the chamber and is collected in a graduated jar for a convenient period. The head causing now (h)
is equal 10 the difference in water levels between the constant-head reservoir and the constant-bead chamber.
If the cross-sectional area of the specimen is A, the discharge is given by (Eq. 8.3)
q .. kiA

q- k~A
k_ ~ ... (8~)
where L ::; length of specimen, h "" head causing flow.
The discharge q is equal to the volume of waler collected divided by time.
The finer particles of the soil specimen have a tendency to migrate towards the end faces when water
flows through it. This results in the formation of a filler skin at the ends. The coefficient of permeability of
these end portions is quite different from that of the middle portion. For more accurate resUlts, it would be
preferable to measure the loss of head hi over a length L' in the middle to determine the hydraulic gradient
(I). Thus i_hilL'.
The temperature of the permeating water should be preferably somewhat higher than that of the soil
sample. This will prevent relea<;e of the air during the test. It also helps in removing the entrapped air in the
pores of the soil. As the water cools, it has a tendency to absorb air.
To reduce the chana:s of formation of large voids al points where the particles of the soil touch tbe
permeameter walls, the diameter of the perrneamcter is kept at team 15 to 20 times the particles size.
To increase the ratc of flow for the soils of low permeability. a gas under pressure is appUed to tbe
surface of water in the constant-head reservoir. The total head causing flow in that case increases to
(h + ply",,), where p is pressure applied.
The bulk density of the soil In the mould may be determined from the mass of the soil in the mould and
its volume. The bulk density should be equal 10 that in the field. The undisturbed sample can also be used
instead of the compacled sample. For accurate results, the specimen should have the same structure as in
natural oonditions.
(See Oiapter 30, Sect. 30.13 for the laboratory experiment).
The const.ant had permeability test is suitable for clean sand and gravel with k > 10- 2 mmJsec.
For relatively .less permeable soils, the quantity of water collected in the groduated jar of the
constant-head permeability test is very small and cannot be measured accurately. For such soils, the
variable-head permeability test is used. The permeameter mould is the same as that used in the oonstant-head
permeabiUty test A vertical, graduated stand pipe of known diameter is fitted to the lOp of penneameter:-The
sample is placed between two porous discs. The whole assemblX is placed in a conslant head chamber filled
with water to the brim at the start of Ihe test. F)g. 8.3 shows a schematic sketch. 1be porous discs and waia

tubes should be dc-aired before the sample is plaa:d. If in-situ,

undisturbed sample is available, the same can be used; otherwise
~~ns:~ is taken in the mould and rompacted to the required ~
The valve at the drainage base (001 shown in figure) is closed
aoel a vacuum pressure is applied slowly through the drainage cap
to remove air from the soil. The vacuum pressure is increased (0
700 mm of mercury and maintained for about 15 minutes. 1be
sample is saturoted by allowing cleaired water to flow upward


from the drainage base when under vacuum. When the soil is
saturated, both the top and bonom outlets are c100ed. The
standpipe is filled with water to the required heighL
The test is staned by allowing the water in the stand pipe to
flow through the sample to the ronstant-head chamber from which


it overflows and spills out. As the water flows through the soil,
the water level in the standpipe falls. 1be lime required for the
water level to fall from a known initial head (h t) 10 a koown final
head (hi) is determined. The head is measured with reference to
the level of water in the constant- head chamber.
Let us ronsidcr the instant when the head is h. For the
infinitesimal smalltime dt, the head falls by tIh. Let the discharge
through the samplc be q. From continuity of flow,
adh _ -qdt
whcre a is cr06S-scctional area of the standpipe. Fig. 8.3. Variabte Head PermeamelC r.
or adh--(Axkx,)xdt

A Icdt -dh
,uj' !: ~
Jntegrating, dl_
aL IJ - 10, h

or (/2 -It) - log., (hllhv

Ie. - ~ log., (hi/hi) ...(8.6)

where t _ (12 -11), the time intcrval during which the bead reduces from hi to h'2'
Eq. 8.6 is sometimes writtcn as
... (8.7)

The rate of fall of water level in the stand pipe and the rate of flow can be adjusted by changing the area
of the cross-seajon of the standpipe. The smaller diameter pipes are required for less pervious soils.
The coefficient of penneability is reported at 27°C as per IS : 2720 (Part XVII). The void ratio of the
soil is also general1y detennined.
The variable head penneameter is suitable for very fine sand and silt with k ::: 10- '2 to 10-5 mm/scC.
(See Cllapter 30, Sect. 30. 14 for the laboratory experiment).
Somelimes, the permeability test is conducted using the ronsolidomeler instead of the permeametet

mould (see chapter 12). The fixed-ring consolidometer is used a<; a variable-head permeametcr by attaching a
stand pipe to its base.
The discharge velocity v in Eq. 8.2 is not the actua1 velocity through the interstices of the soil. It is a
fictitious velocity obtained by dividing the total discharge (q) by the total cross-sectional area (A.). The total
CfOSS- sectional area consists of not only the voids but also the solids. As the flow can take place only
through voids, the actual velocity through the voids is much greater than the discharge velocity. TIle actual
velocity on a macroscopic scale is known as the seepage velocity (vs).

r 1
(.) (b)
Fig. 8.4. Seepage Velocity
Fig. 8.4 (a) shows the longitudinal seaion through a soil sample in which the voids and the solid
particles are segregated. However, it must be clearly understood that the voids and solids in actual soils fonn
a complex system and it is not possible to segregate them . From the oontinuity of flow.
q - vA _ v,A .. ... (.)
where A., is the area of flow through voids and v, is the actual seepage velocity.
From Eq. (a). v, - v x (A/A.~)
Multiplying the numerator and denominator by the length (L) of the specimen,

v, - v x (:. : i) ...(b)
The product (A x L) is equal 10 the lota1 volume V and the prodLKi (A .. x L), equal to Ihe volume of
voids (V.) [Fig. 8.4 (0)].
There[ore, v, - v x 'Y:' ... (0)
As the ratio V,IV is equal to the porosity,
v _-
, n ... (8.8)
In other words, tlie seepage velocity is equal to the discharge velocity divided by porosity.

Using Eq. 8.2, v, - ~

or v, _ Ap xi ... (8.9)
wbere ~ - k/n ... (8.10)
The ooefficient ~ is known as the coeDkienl of percolation.. Its value is always greater than the
coefficient of penneability (Ie).

Strictly speaking, the seepage velocity is not be absolute velocity through the interstices. The interstices
are tortuous and irregular in cross·section and cannot be represented as shown in Fig. 8.4 (a). The absolute
velocity varies from point to point. Its direttion may also change and, at times, i! may be directly opposite to
the general direction of flow. In fact, the problem is so complex that an analysis based on the absolute
velocity is not possible. Although on the microscopic scale, the flow path is tortuous, on a macroscopic scale,
it can be considered as a straight line. The seepage velocity can be taken a'> the maC'OSa>pic velocity at which
the line of wetting progresses in the direction of flow. ObviOUSly, it is not equal to the absolute velocity as
the water flows not in a straight line but it detours around solid particles. Fortunately, the absolute velocity is
not of much practical use in soil engineering. lbe geotechnical engineer is interested in the macroscopic
behaviour of the soil aDd not in its microscopic behaviour.
The total discharge can be computed using either the discharge velocity (v) or the seepage velocity (VI).
The discharge velocity is more convenient and is commonly used in soil engineering. In this text, when the
tcnn velocity is used without any qualification, it means discharge velocity.
For understanding the flow of water through soils, let us first consider the laminar flow through pipes.
Fig. 8.5 shows a horizontal pipe of circular cross·section of radius R. Let us take a small cylindrical fluid
element of radius r and length I, as shown in figure. The shear srress "'C on the surface of the fluid element is
given by Newton's law of viscositya'>

Fig. 8.5. Laminar now in a pipe.

, --~ (~ ) ... (0)

where 1.1. = coefficient of viscosity and ~ = velocity gradient.

For steady flow, the net force acting on the element in the horizontal direction is zero. Therefore,
(Pl-pvrci - (2ttrl)"'C _ 0
Substituting the value of"'C from Eq. (a), and simplifying,
dv - dPl-J>i)
The pressure PI and P2 can be expressed in terms of piezometric heads hI and ~ as
PI- lwhl and P2 - lw h2
dv -ryw(hl-hV
Thus d; - --2-~-1-

Representing (hi - hiJ/1 by the hydraulic gradient (l).

dv -r'(wi

Integrating, v _ -;f~ i ( ~ ) + C

The constant of integration C can be obtained from the condition of no slip (Le.. v =0) at the boundary

(i.e., r = R). Thus

'tw iR2

Therefore v .. -'1",1 ? + y",ifil

4J.l 4"
v_ 'h!.(R2 _ ?) ... (8.11)
Eq. 8.11 indicates that pipe
is of the shape of paraboloid of reVOlution, with
the velocity distribution in a
the maximum velocity at its centre. The equation is known a.. Hagen-Poisseuille equation for laminar flow
through pipes. The equation can be used to detcnnine the discharge q in the pipe a.. under.
Discharge through a small ciraliar ring of radius r and thickness dr is given by
y.i ..,
dq - (2x,dr) v - 21Udr 4; (,,-,.AI
Integrating. q _ I' 2w (~) (R'--?)dr _ ,,!.ilt
Jo 41' 8"
Writing the radius R in terms of the hydraulic radius RH (i.e RH .. D/ 4 - RI2) and the area A
for n: R2,

q - ! ~ R~I )C A ... (8.12)

2 "
Ukewise, it can be shown thai the discharge through two parallel plates of width B and placed at distance
d apart is given by (see any text on Auid Mechanics),
q_ l~(2Bd~
3 "
Substituting A=2Bd nnd RH - ;n: - d.

q .. 1. , (... i Rl, )( A .. . (8.13)

3 "
Comparing Eqs. 8.12 and 8.13, it is observed that the general fonn of the equation for laminar flow
through passages of different shapes is the same. The difference is only in the numerical value of the
constants. The general equation for discharge in a conduit of any shape can be written as

q - C, C~i) RI, A ... (8.14)

where C, is a constant which depends on the shape of the conduit.

Eq. 8.14 is sometimes called the generalized Hagen- Pouseuille eqULltion. This equation can be used in
a modified form for the flOW" through soils ao; explained in the next section.
Since the flow through porous media is laminar. Eq. 8.14 can be used. However, the area of flow passage
in the cac;e of porous media is equal to the porosity times the total cross-sectional area and, therefore., Eq.
8.14 becomes

q - C, (¥) RI, (NI) ...(0)

when n is the porosity of soil. represented m. ratio.

"(be hydraulic radius RJI for a p:trous medium can be written as

R .. areaofflow A~
H wetted perimeter ..p:,
Multiplying the numerator and the denominator by the length of the passage (L).
R .. A~ xL.. volume of flow channel
1/ p~ x L surface area of Dow channel
100 volume of Dow channel may be taken as the volume of voids (V~), which is equal to e V, , where e
is the void ratio aod V, is the volume of solids. The surface area of the Dow channel may be worked out 00
the basis of a hypothetical spherical grain of diameter D and having lhe same volume/area ratio as the entire
mass. Thus
V~ eV. 'JtrY/ 6 eD
RII .. A, .. T, .. e --;;[j2 .. 6
Substituting the above value of RII in Eq. (a) and taking n .. el l + e,

q . c,(~)(eN(~)A
q · ~(~)(I: . )D'iA
Replacing C,I36 by another cocfHc ient C,

q. c (~) (I: .) D'iA

*.C(~)(I: e )D'i
Using Eqs .. (8.2) and (8.3). the above equation can be written as

v. C(~) (I: .) D'i .ki

where k.C(~)(I:e)D' ... (8.15)

Eq. 8 .15 gives a general expression for the coefficient of penneabWty of soil.
The following factors affect the permeability of soils.
(1) Particle size. As it is evident from Eq. 8.15, the coefficient of permeability of a soil is proportional
to the square of the particle size (D). l11e permeability of coarse-grained soils is very large as compared to
[hal of fine- grained soils. The permeability of coarse sand may be more than one million times as much that
(2) Structure or soli mass. The coefficient C in Eq. 8.15 takes into 3CCOlUlt the shape of the flow
passage. The size of the flow passage depends upon the structural arrangement. Hx the same void ralio, the
permeability is more in the case of floca.J1ated structure as compared to that in the diSpersed structure.
Stratified soil deposits have greatcr permeability parallel to the plane of stratification than that
perpendicular to Ihis plane. Pcnncability of a soil deposit also depends upon shrinkage cracks. joints, fissures
and shear wncs. Loess deposits have grealer permeability in the vertical direction than in the horizontal
The permeability of a natural soil deposit should be detcnnined in undisturbed condition. 1be distwbance
caused duriog sampling may destroy the original structure and affect the penneability. The effect of
disturbance is more pronounced in the case of fmc· grained soils than in the case of coarse-grained soils.

(3) Shape or Particles. The penneability of

a soil depends upon the shape of particles.
Angular particles have greater specific surface
area as compared with the rounded particles. For
the same void ratio, the soils with angular (~2• ..i!.
..!2) YS1 k
particles are less penneable than those with I+eo He 1+<
rounded particles, as the permeabiUty is
inversely proportional 10 the specific surface.
However, in a natural deposit. the void ratio for
a soil with angular particles may be greater than
that for rounded particles, and the soil witb
angular particles may be actually more
penneable. PERMEABILITY (k)----.-
(4) Void Ratio. Eq. 8.15 indicates that the
coefficient of penneability varies as ;/(1 + e). Fig. 8.6. Variation of k with;, 1~: e and 1~: e
For a given soiL, the greater the void ratio, the
higher is the value of the coefficient of permeability.
Based on other concepts. it has been established that tbe permeability or a soil varies as t? or
e 2/(1 + e) (Fig. 8.6). Whatever may be the exact relationship, all soils have e versus log k plot as a straight
line (Fig. 8.1).
It must be noted tbat eacb plot in Fig. 8.7 is for a given soil. The permeability of a soil at a given void
ratio may not have any relationship witb that of another soil at the same void ratio. Paradoxically, the soils
with the largest void ratio (i.e. clays) 1.0,--------------,
are the least pervious. This is due to
the fact that the individual void 0.9
passages in clays arc extremely small
=~~ which water cannot flow 0.8

If the permeability of a soil at a

void ratio of 0.85 is known, its value
at another void ratio of e can be
determined using the following

equation given by Casagrande: 4;'
k - 1.4 ko,,, e' ... (8.16) 0·5
where ~.85 ::: permeability at a void S
ratio of 0.85, k ::: permeability at a ~ 0·1.,
void ratio of e.
(5) Properties of water. As
::> 0·3
indicated in Eq. 8.15, the roefficient
of permeability is directly proportional
to the unit weight of water <"t ...) and is 0-2
inversely proportional to its visoosity
(~). The unit weight of water does not ().1
vary much over tbe range of
temperature ordioarily encountered in
soU eogtneering problems. However, O'~04 1- t'rJ
there is a large variation in tbe value COEFFICIENT OF PERMEAB1Ut-V (k) mm/~c: _____
of the ooefficient of visalsity (~). The Fig. 8.7. Varilltlon cllOi k with e.

coeffkient of penneability inaeases with an increase in temperature due to reductiO'I in the visrosity.
It is usual practice (IS : 27111 Part XVU) to report the coefficient of permeabililJ at 27 D C. The following
equation can be used for conversion of the penneability to 27D C.

k", - k, -!; ...(8.17)

where kz1 = coefficient of penneabUity at 27 D C when viscosity is !In.
and k, = coefficient of penneability of t DC when visa:Jsity is ~,.
Eq. 8.17 can be written as
kn - e,k, ... (8.18)
where e, is tbe corted.ion fadar. equal to (jA.,/!lv).
The correction factor e, can be determined from the values of the coefficient of visoosity given in
Thble 3.2.
(6) Degree of Saturation. If the soil is not fully saturated, it contains air pockets fanned due to
entrapped air or due to air liberated from percolating water. Whatever may be the cause of the presence of
air in soils, tbe permeability is reduced due to presence of air which causes blockage of passage.
Comequently, the permeability of a partially saturated soil is considerably smaller than that of a fully
saturated soil. In fact, Darcy's law is not striclly applicable to such soils.
The penneability of a partially saturated soil is measured in the laboratory by the capillarity-
I'.",,,ability test (Sect. 8.16).
m Adsorbed water. 1be fine-grained soils have a layer of ad<iorbed water strongly attached to their
surface. This adsorbed water layer is not free to move under gravity. It causes an obstruction to !low of water
in the pon:s and hence reduces the penncability of soils.
It is difficult to estimate the voids occupied by the adsorbed water. According to one estimate, the void
ratio occupied by adsorbed water is about 0.10. The effeaive void ratio available for flow of water is thus
about (e-O.l) and not e. In some cases, at very low hydraulic gradients, the coefficient of permeability of
rme-graincd soils becomes negligibly small due to presence of adsorbed water.
(8) ImpurlUes in water. Any foreign maller in water h$ a tendency to plug the flow passage and reduce
tbc effective voids and hence the permeability of soils.
As discussed above. the coefficient of permeability of a soil depends not only on the properties of soil
but also on the properties oC penncant (water). Attempts have been made to separate tbe effect of properties
of permeant from the effect of the properties of soil. Another coeffident, known as the coefficient of absolute
permeability (K), has been introduced. It is related to the coefficient of permeability (k) $ under:
K - k(~/y.) ... (8.19)

Using Eq. 8.15. K-C(~)Ii'

1+ •
Therefa-e, the coefficient of absolute permeability (X) is independent of the properties of water_ It
depends only on the characteristics of soils.
The dimensions of the coeffident of absolute permeability can be determined from Eq. 8.19 as

[K] - [ ¥1[p,:] [~]- [L'j

It bas the dimension of area.
The units of K are mm 2, cm 2, m2 or darcy.
1 darcy = 0.987 )( 10-' cm 2

The coefficient of absolute permeability for a soil with a given void rntio and structure is constant. It has
tbe same value whatever may be the fluid.


The laboratory methods for the determination of the coetlicient of permeability, as discussed before, do
not give correct results. The samples used are generally disturbed and do nol represents the true in-sltu
structure. For more accurate, representative values, the field tests are conducted. The field tests may be in the
form of pumping oul test wherein the water is pumped out from the wells drilled for this purpose. The other
type of Ibe field tests are pumping~in tests, wherein the water is pumped into tbe drilled holes, as diso.Jsscd
in the, following article.
For large engineering projeas, it is the usual practio: to measure the permeability of soils by
pumping-out tests. The method is extremely useful for a homogeneous. coarse grained deposits COl" which it
is diffirult to obtain undisturbed samples. In a pumping out test, the soil deposit over a large area is
influenced, and therefore the results represent an overall coefficient of permeability of a large mass of soil.
However, the tests are very costly and can be justified only for large projects.
Ground water occurs in pervious soil deposits known us aquifers. The aquifers are reservoirs of ground
water that can be easily drained or pumped out. An aquiclude is a soil deposit which is impervious. If an
aquifer docs not have an aquiclude at its top and the water table is in the acquifer itself, it is called an
unconfined aquifer. If the acquifer is confined between two aquicludes, one at its top and the other at its
bottom, it is known as confined aquifer. The coefficient of permeability of the soil can be found using the
equations developed below separately for unconfined aquifer and confmcd aquifer.
(a) Unconfined Aquifer In an unconfined aquifer. a tube well is drilled as shown in Fig. 8.8. The well
reaches the underlying impervious stratum. TIle tube used for the well is perforated so that water can enter
the well The tube is surrounded by a saeen called strainer to check the flow of soil particles into tbe well.
Waler is pumped oul of the tube well till a steady state is fC..1Chcd . AI that stage. the discharge becomes

Fig. 8.8. Unconfined Aquirer

constant and the water level in the well does not change. The water table, which was originally horizontal
before the pumping was started, is depreSsed near the well. The water table near the well fonns an inverted
cone, known as the cone of depression. The maximum depression of the water table is known as the draw-
down (d).
The expression for the coefficient of permeability can be derived making the following assumptions,
known as Dupuit'S assumption.

(1) The now is laminar and Darcy's law is valid.

(2) The soil mll'iS is isotropic and homogeneous.
(3) The well penetrates the entire thidcness of aquifer.
(4) The flow is steady.
(5) The coeffICient of penneability remains constant throughout.
(6) The flow towards the well is radial and horizontal.
(7) Natural ground water regime remains constant.
(8) lbe slope of the hydraulic gradient line is small, and can be taken as the tangent of the angle in
place of the sine of angle, i.e.
. dz
'-';t; ... (8.20)
Let U5 consider the flow through a cylindrical surface of height z at a radial distance of r from the centre
J. of the well. From Darcy's law,
q .. kiA
Substituting the value of i from Eq. (8.20) and taking A equal to 2nI' z,

q. k (~) (2xn)
or !!!.. .. 2nkzdz
,11 • q

"u. Integrating, / <E:.

2d /

Iog.('';',)' ~ (zl- zl)

q 2
k = --fL-----,;-- log.. (r1ir ) ... (8.21)
1t(Zi - .:1)

or k • • (zl _ zl) log" ('';'') ... (8.22)

Near the test well, there is a rapid drop in head and the slope of the hydraulic gradient is steep, and
asswnption (8) is not satisfied. The observation wells 1 and 2 should be drilled at considerable distance from
the well for acx:urate measurements: The radial distance of the well should be at least equal to the thickness
of aquifer (D). The observation wells are usually arranged in two orthogonal lines, one along the general
direction of flow of the ground water and the other at right angle to this direction.
An approximate value of the coefficient of pennenbility can be detennined if the radius of influence (R)
is known or is estimated. The circle of influence, over whicb the effect of pumping is observed, extend) to a
very large area. In fact, it gradually merges asymptotically 10 Ihe water table. The radiw; of influence varies
between 150 to 300 m. According to Sichardt, it can be found using the relation
R • JrnJdVli
where R = radius of influence (m), d = drawdown (m)
..I and J.: = Coefficient of penneability (m/SeC)
ed According 10 Kozeny (1933), the radius of innuence;
R • [(12 rln)(qk/nJ""]'"
where I is the time required to establish steady oooditions, and II is the porosity.
Eq. 8.21 can be written as

k • ~ 109. (RI,.) ... (8.23)

where r... :: radius of test well, R = radi~ of influence,

D :: depth of aquifer measured below tbe water table. h:: depth of water in the well
Eq. 8.23 gives an approximate

value of the mcmcienl of penneability. P.S. = PIEZOMETRIC
because the slope of the water surface SURFACE
near the well is steep and Dupuit's G.S.
assumption is not justified. Further. the
value 'of the radius of influence (R) is
also approximate.
(b) Confined Aquifer. Fig. 8.9 CONE
--0;.:;--.. .
shows a oonfined aquifer of thickness b DEPRESSION
and lying between the two aquicludcs.
The piezometric surface is above the
top of the aquifer. In mnfined aquifer,
the water pressure is indicated by the
piezometric surface (PS).
T ~.LL<====~

Thus the piezometriC surface is the ;r,==='777n'7f.r.=c:'::l+.~~:>hJr",77777

water table equivalent for a confined
Initially, the piezometric surface is .
horizontal. When the pumping is Fig. 8.9. Confined AqUIfer.
started from the weU, it is depressed and a cone' of depression is fonned. The expression for the coefficient
of penncability can be derived making the same $Sumptions as in the cze of unconfined aquifer. Let us
consider the discharge through a cylindrical surface at a radial distance , from the centre and of height z.
From Darcy's law,
q - kiA
q ok (;l;-) (2ru-b) ...(a)

Integrating, [log.('ll. hqkb Izll

k • q log. ('';'1)
or .(8.24)
2nb(z2- Zt)
2.30q loglO (r2"rt)
or k· ... (8.25)
where %1= height of water level in observation well (1) at a radial distance of '1 and
Z2 = height of water level in observation well (2) at a radial distance of '2'
As in the case of an unconfmed aquifer, an approximate value of k can be detennined if the radius of
influence R is known or estimated. In this C&'ie,

k • q log. (RI,.)
... (8.26)
Pumping~in tests are conducted to determine the ooefficient of permeability of an individual stratum
through which a hole is drilled. These tests are more economical than the pumping-out test. However, the

pumping-oul tests give more reliable values than that given by pumping-in tests. The pumping-in lests give
the value of the coefficient of permeability of stratum just close to the hole, whereas the pumping-out lests
give the value for a large-area around the hole.
There are b~lcally two types of pumping-in tests: (1) Open-end tests, (2) Packer tests. In an open-end
tests. the water flows oul of the test hole Ihrough its bottom end, whereas in packer tests, the water flows out
through the sides of the section of a hole enclosed between packers. 1be value of the coefficient of
pcnneability is obtained from the quantity of water accepted by the hole. The water pumped-in should be
clean, as tbe impurities, such as sill, clay or any other foreign matter, may cause plugging of the flow
passages. If the water available is tUrbid, it should be clarified in a settling tank or by using a filter. The
temperature of the water pumped in should be slightly higher than the temperature of the ground waler 10
preclude the formation of air bubbles in stratum.
(1) Open~nd 'Jests. A pipe casing is insencd into tbe bore bole to the desired depth and it is cleaned
out. The hole is kept filled with water during cleaning if it extends below the water table. This is necessary
to avoid squeezing of the soil into the bottom of the pipe casing when the driving 1001 is withdrawn.




(o) (b) (<I

Fig. 8.10. Open-end /e!i.ts.

After the hole has been cleaned out, water is added to the hole through a metring system. The constant
rate of flow (q) is determined at which the steady conditions are established. The coefficient of penneabilily
is detennined by the fOllowing equation (USBR, 19til).
k - s1rH ...(8.27)
where r= inside radius of the casing,
H = difference of levels between the inlet to the casing and the water tabJe [Fig. 8.10 (a)l,
q,. discharge
If required, the discharge can be inaeac;ed by pumping-in water under a pressure p [Fig. 8.10 (b)]. In this
~, the value of H becomes equal 10 (H + ply",,).
Foe aocmate results. tbe lower end of the pipe should be al a distance of not less than 10 r from the top
as well as from the bottom of tbe stratum.
The open-end test can also be conducted above the water table [Fig. 8.10 (e)]. In this case, however, iI

is difficult 10 maintain a constant water level in the casing and some surging of this level has to be tolemted.
Eq. 8.27 can also be used in this case. However, in this case H is equal to the difference of inlet level and
the bottom end of the pipe. If required, the rale of now (q) can be increased by pumping-in water under a
pressure A with a total head of (H + ply..,).
(2) Packer Tests. The packer tests are perfooned in an uncased portion of the pipe casing. The packer
tests are more commonly used for testing of rocks. The tests are occasionally used for testing of soils if the
bore hole can stay open without any casing.
(a) Single packer tests. If the hole cannot stand without a casing, single-packer lest is used. The packer
Is p~ as shown in F4,g. B.l1 (a). Water is pumped into the hole. It comes out of the sides of uncased
portion of the hole below the packer. If the casing is used for the full depth, it should have perforations in
the portion of the stratum being tested. The lower end of the casing is plugged.

(b )
Fig. 8.U. Packcrtesl5.
When the steady ooooitions are attained. the constant rate of flow (q) is dctmnined. lbe value of the
coefficient of penneability is found by the following equation (USBR, 19(1).

k - z!ui log, (LI,) if L ~ tOr ••. (8.28)

k - z!ui sinh- (L I 2r)

if lOr> L :t r .. .(8.29)

where l'= inside radius of hole, L = length of the hole tested,

H = difference of water levels al the entry and the ground water table for the hole tested below
the water table.
sinh- 1 = arc hyperbolic sine.
For the holes tested above the water table, H is equal to the difference of levels of water al the entry and
the middle of the test section [Fig. 8.11 (b)].
If the water is applied under pressure (P). the value of II beoomc:s (H + pI., ...). ao; in the case of
open-end tests.
After the test is oomplete. the packer is removed. If required. the hole is made deeper and again a packer
is placed and the test repeated for that portion.
stanJb~i~~~~~-:~: d:~le~~:erh~:t ~~ T
~i~::i:I:::'ris~~:; ~~ :~:edde~~:
TWo packers are fitted to a small diameter
pipe, as shown in Fig. 8.12. The bottom of the
pipe fitted with packers is plugged. Fig. 8.12
(a) shows the oonditions when the test section
is below the groWKI water table and Fig. 8.12
(b), when above the ground water lable. The
value of the coefficient of penneability is
determine4 using Eq. 8.28 or Eq. 8.29.
depending upon the value of L and r as
specified. szW.T.
(.) (0)
The double-packer test is oonducted first
in the lowest portion ncar the bottom of the
Fig. 8.12. Double-prtcker test.
hole and later repealed for the upper layCf5.
The packer tests give better results when conducted below the water table than when above Ibe waler table.
For reliable results, the thickness of the stratum should be at least five times the length (L) of the hole tested.
The value of the coefficient of penneability of a soil can be estimated by using iodired methods, withoul
conducting laboratory tests or field tests. The following methods are commonly used.
(1) AUen Hazen's fonnuls. Allen Hazen conduded a large number of tests on mter sands of particle size
between 0.1 mm and 3.0 mm, having a coefficient of unifonnily of less than 5, and gave the following
k - C Dl. ...(8.30)
where k = coefficient of penneability (em/sec). 0 10 :::: effective size (em),
C = constant, with a value between 100 and ISO
If Ie. and DIO are taken in mm/sec and mm, respectively, the value of the constant C lies between
10 and 15.
Although Allen Hazen formula was derived for unifoon sands in a loose state of compaction, it is
frequently used used for other soils. However, the computed values may be in ern>r by 1: 100%.
(2) Kozeny-Cannan equatloh. The coefficient of the permeability of a soil can be estimated using the
Kozeny-Carman equal ion:

k_~'..L. ... (831)

(C,J.lS)7:Z 1 + e
where k = coefficient of permeability (croisee). P ... := mass density of water (gm/ml),
C, :::: shape factor, which can be taken as 2.5 for granular soils,
J.l = coefficient of viscosity (poise), e :::: void ralio, g :::: 981 antsec2•
T:= tortuooity, with a value of V2 for granular soil<; and
S ::::;. surface area per unit volume of soil solids, known as specific surface (cm2/an~.
The Kozeny-Carman equation gives good results for coarse-grained soils such as sands. and some silts.
However, when the equation is u.<;ed for clayey soils, serious discrepancies are observed. The acruracy for
coarse-grained soils is about 20%.
For computation of k from Eq. 831, the value of specirlC surface S is required. The specific surface (S)
of a particle is equal to. the surface area of the particle per unit volume of the particle. It depends upon the
shape and size of the particle. For a Spherical panicle of diameter D. specific surface (S) is given by

s_ (.10') _ ~
... (8.32)
(.0'16) D
The specific swface of spheres unifonnly distributed in size between the mesh size Q and b, is given by
S _ 61.fiifi ... (8.33)
For accurate results, the ratio alb should not be greater than 2.
Ir the particles arc of irregular shape. the specific surCa<.:e can be determined indirectly from 8
comparison with the specific surface oC unifonn sphere of the same size, and using a factor known as
angularity factor (J).

I .. ;:~~s~::=::s~e:u;!:;~~~~~
The value of f depends upon the angularity of the particles. Its value is usually taken as 1.1 for rounded
sands, 1.25 for sands of medium angularity and 1.4 for angular sands.
If Mh M2 ... Mil are the percentage of the total soil sample retained on different sieves. the overall
specific surface oC the lotal sampk: is given by
S .. j{M1S 1 + M2~ + ...... M"S,,) .•. (8.34)
where S .. S2 ...... 5" are the specific surface of spheres uniformly distribute:! wilhin the corresponding
(3) Loudon's Fonnula. Loudon gave the following empirical formula.
IOg10 (k s') - a + bn ... (8.35)
where k = coefficient of permeability (an/sec). S = specific surface (an2/cm\
n = porosity, expressed as a ratio. a = constant, with an average value of 1.365 at lO"e,
b = constant, with an average value of 5.15 at lO"e.
The Loudon fonnula is much more convenient to use than the Kozcny-Carman equation and gives
approximately the same accuracy.
(4) Consolidation test data. 1bc coefflcicnt of permeability of fine-grained soils can be determined
.:ndirectly from the data ootained from a consolidation test conducted on the sample (see chapter 12). It is
given by
Ie - C~'t", m~ - C~p",gm.. ...(8.36)
where Ie :::: coefficient of permeability (m/Sec). C.. = coefficient of consolidation (m 2 /soc),
pw = density of water (kg/m~, g = 9.81 m/sec?,
m.. = coefficient of volume compressibility (em /N). y.., = unit weight or water (N/m\
This method is suitable for very fine-grained soils (Ie < Itr mm/sec) for which permeability test cannot
be easily conducted in the laboratory.
The coefficient of permeability of soil in unsaturated condition can be determined from the
capillarity-penncability test. The apparatus consists of a transparent tube made of lucite or glass, about 35 an
long and 4 em diameter (Fig. 8.13). 1be sampie of the dry soil in powdered form is placed in the tube and
screens are fixed at both ends. One end of the transparent tube is connected to high level waler reservoirs and
the other end is open to atmosphere through an air-vent pipe. The air-vent pipe is connected to the screen at
that end with a spring.
The valve D connecting to the higher reservoir is initially closed. When the valve C connecting to lhe
lower reservoir is opened, capillary action in soil occurs and it draws water into it. The wetled surface starts
advancing towards the open end. Lei us oonsider the stage when the welted surfaoe has advanced by a
distanoe of x. Let the negative capillary head be hrt as shown by an imaginary manometer in figw'C. (The
manometer is imaginary and in actual tests, no manometer is used. It has been shown in the figure just to
IndiaJle the negative bead). The
total bead causing flow is increased
because of the negative bead (he)
and is given by

Assuming a uniform hydraulic

gradient over the entire length % • the
velocity is given by Darcy's law.

v .. 1 i .. k (hi; he) ...(a)

The welled surface moves (on a

macrosoopic scale) with a seepage
Fig. 8.13. Capillarity-Penneability test.
velocity (v,). given by Eq. 8.8 as
V, .. vln
Therefore, the seepage velocity is given by
v .. !. . (hi + he)
'n X
For partially saturated soils, the above equation is modified taking actual saturated porosity as Sxn. Thus
v _ ~ (hi + h,)
I Sn x
where 1. "" roefficient of permeability in unsaturated condition
S = degree of saturation, expressed as a ratio.
Substituting v, _ dxI dl. we have
dx k. (hi + he)
di - S;; --x-

xdx .. k..(h~: he) dl

Integrating, ! 1
Xdx .. i.(h l +
ht)! dl1

or ..s-il
- 2 - - --S-n-
k.(hl+h.) (
t2 - tl

..s - .G
(12-11) ..
21. (hi + h,)
--S-n-- ...(8.37)

Eq. 8.37 can be used to detennine the coefficient of pcnneability (l..) if all other variables are given. As
the capillary head (he) is also not known, there are two unknowns (ktt and ht) on the right-hand side of the
equation. Therefore, one more equation is required.
The SCCX)nd equation can be derived if the head is changed from hi to ~ when the water surface has
advanced 10 about half the length of the transparent tube by closing the valve C and opening the valve
D. Let %2 and x,l by the distances measured from the left end at the time t;2 and I). Eq. 8.37 becomes. for
this case, as
.oi-..s 21. (h,+ h.)
(I)-tV .. --S-n-- ... (8.38)

The values of the unknown k,. and ht can be obtained analytically from Eqs. 8.37 and 8.38. A plol. is

made between;Z and I, as shown in Fig, 8,14. ;Z

The slopes ml and mz of the lines give the
;~~~~!~~~~fl.hand sides of Eqs, 8,37 and 4
ml _ 2 k.. (~ln + he) ... (8.39) x?
m, • 2k. (~': h,) ... (8.40)

The values of k.. and he are detennined x,2

from Eqs. 8.39 and 8.40 after substituting the
values of ml and mz obtained from the plot.
The porosity n of the soil sample is
determined from its dry density, as discussed
in chapter 2, fig. 8.14. Plot or t and x'l..
M, Gp,..
Pd - V - T-:;-;
and n .. _e_
I + e
The degree of saturation (5") ' is obtained from the water rootent of lhe soil delennined after the test, using
the equations developed in chapter 2.
S .. wGle
For accurate results, the capillary head (he) should be maintained constant almg the vertical wetting
surface. It is done by slowly revolving the tube about its axis.
A stratified soil deposit consists of a number of soil layers having different penneabilities. The average
permeability of the deposil as a whole parallel 10 the planes of stratification and thai nonnal of the planes of
stratification can be detennined as explained
(Q) Flow ParaUel to Planes of
Stratmcatlon. Let us consider a deposit
consisting of two horizontal layers of soil of 1
thickness H J and Hz as shown in Fig. 8.15.
For flow parallel to the planes of
stratification, the loss of head (h) over a length L
is the same [Of both the layers. Therefore, the
11Hz L-_ _

- __
"1 LAVER 0)

_ _"

hydraulic grndient (I) for each layer is equal to

the hydraulic gradient of the entire deposit. The
system is analogous to the two resistances in
parallel in an elearical cira.1it, wherein the
I-I.---L. ----i.~1
potential drop is the same in both the resistances. Fig. 8.15
From the continuity equation, the total discharge (q) per unit width is equal to the sum of the discharges
in the iodividual layers. i.e.,
... (a)

Let (kllh snd (kllh be the permeability of the layers 1 and 2 rc5ped.ively, parallel to the plane of
stratification and (kh) be the overall penneability in that direction. From Eq. (a), using Darcy's law,
~ )( i )( (HI + Hv - (k")1 )( i '/(, HI + (k"h )( i )( H2
k (kil >.)(
HI + <kiln )( H2
/I - HI + H2
If there are n layers instead of two.
k _ (k"h )( HI + (k"h )( H2 + ... + (k"),, )( H"
ll . . .(8.41)
HI + 112 + ... + II"
(b) Flow normal to the plane or stratlncatlon. Let us consider 8 soil deposit consisting of two layers
of thickness HI and 112 in wbich the now
occurs normal to the plane of stratification (Fig. 8.16).

Loyer 0)
I'] '" 1T

Loyer III

Fig. 8.16. Fl()'N oonnal to plane of stratification.

let (k..)1 and (k..h be the ooeffic.ient of permeability of the layers 1 and 2 in the direction perpendiruJar
to the plane of stratification, and Ie., be the average coefficient of permeability of the entire deposit in that
direction. In this case, the discharge per unit width is the same for each layer and is equal to the discharge
in the entire deposit. The case is analogous to the resistances in series in an electrical circuit, wherein the
current is the same for all resistances.
Therefore, •.. (a)
Using Darcy's law, considering unit area perpendk:ular to now,
h" )( ill )( I - (k..)1 )( (i..h )( I - (k"n )( (i..h )( 1 ... (b)
where i .. = overall hydraulic gradient, (i,,)1 = hydraulic gradient in layer I,
(i~h = hydraulic gradient in lay~ 12
From Eq. (b), (i,), • [(k,)/(k,), I x ~ ... (c)
and (~h • [(k,)/(k,), I x ~ ...(d)
As the 100ai loss of head (h) over the enlire deposit is equal to the sum of the loss of beads in the
individual layers,

WritiDg in teoos of hydraulic grandient (I) and the distance of flow, remembering h .. i )( L,
i" )( H - (i~)1 )( HI + (i..h )( Hl
Us;ng Bqs. (c) and (d),
. H (k,) • H (k,) . H
I" )( - (k~)1 x 1,,)( I + (k~h x ' .. )( 2
k, [(Z;, + (Z~ j- H - H, + H,

(k,), + (k,h
In general, when there are n such layers,
.t.. .. HI + H2 + . .. + HII
... (8.42)
(k,)' + (k,h + ... + (k,)"
Evan (1962) proved that for isotropic (A;. .. kll) and homogeneous layers. the average permeability of the
entire depooit parallel to the plane of stratification is always greater than that normal to this plane. For
illustration, let us consider a deposit oonsisling of two layers of thickness 1 m and 2 m, having the coefficient
of permeabJljty of 1 )( 10-2 em/sec and 1 x 10-4 an/sec, respectively.
From ):I". 8.41. Ie 1)( 10- X 100 + 1 )( 10.... )( 200
"""'I ... .. 100 + 200
.. 0.34 x 10-2 ern/ sec

From E<j. 8.42, Ie" .. Hi OO + 2'x;OO

.. 1.49 )( 10..... em/ sec
Thus k, > Ie..
It may be noted that the average permeability parallel to the plane of stratification depends mainly on the
penneability of the most permeable layer and its value is close to the permeability of that layer. On the other
hand, the average permeability normal to the plane of stnllulCation is close to that for the most impermeable
layer. In other words, the avemge flow parallel to the plane of stratifICation is governed by the most
penneable layer and that perpendirular to the plane of stratification-by the lc$t permeable layer.


Dlustratlve Example 8.1. In a oonstant head penneameter test, the following observations were taken.
))istaIIU between piezometer lappings c:: 100 nun

Difference of waler levels in pinmne~rs ;:: 60 mm

D~ter of thI! tesl sample "" 100 mm
Quo.nlity of water colJectt!d = 350 ml
[)uraliOf'l of the test = 170 seconds
Detl:rmine the coelflC~t of permeability of the soiL

Solution. From Eq. 8.5, k = ~

In this case., q - 3501270 - 1.296 mVsec
1berefore, " •
1.296 x 10.0 _ 0.0275 aD/ sec.
(n/4) x (10)' x 6.0
Dlustratlve Example 8.2. ~ failing·ht!ad permeability test was conducted on a soil samplt! of 4 em
diameter and 18 cm len~h. The hMd fell from 1.0 m 10 0.4IJ m in 20 minuta. If 1M cross· s«tiOMl aIU of
the stand pipe was 1 em • detl:rmine tilt c~fficit!1U of permeability.

Solution. From Eq. 8.6, k • ~ log" (hi / hi)

_ 1.0 x 18.0 Jog. (1.0/0.40)

(It/4) x (4.0)2 x 20 x 60
• 1.09 x 10-3 em/sec.
lIlustratiye Example 8.3. A soil has the cOl'jficient of penlleahiUt)' of 4.75 x irrl mm/uc at Jife.
Determille iT.I· vallie m 2r'C. 'fake the coefficient of viscosity at lO"e and 27'C as 8.0 milii poise and 8.5
mill; pnise. respecr;vt'I.I:

Solution. From Eq. 8.17, trt - Ie. ; ;

• 4.75 )( 10-2 )( 8.0/8.5 _ 4.48 )( 10 mm/sec.
n1ustratlve Example 8.4. Estimale the value of the coelflCienl of permeability of a soil with an effective
ditvneter of 0.2 mm. .
Solullon. From Eq. 8.30. k • C~o
Thking C • 125, k • 125 x (0.02)2 • 0,05 ~1t1/sec.
illustrative Example 8.5. The coefficient of J>Crmeability of a soil al a void raw of 0.7 is 4 x 104
em/sec. Estimate its va/~ at a void ratio of 0.50.

Solution. From Eq. 8.15,

As all the parameters remain constant, except e,

k,n (0.70)' (1 + 0.50)
k;:;- - (1 + 0.70) x (050)'
or 4 : _10--4 • 2.421
ko., - 1.65 x 10...... em/sec.

Altematlve Method
From Eq. 8.16, k.1.4ko.a.~e2
4 x 10-' _ 1.4 ko" x (0.7)'

or ko.as - 5.83 x 10-'

For e _ 0.50, k _ 1.40 )( 5.83 )( 10--4 (0.5)2
• 2.04 )( 10...... em/sec
Dlustratlve Example 8.6. A sandy la~r 10 m thick overlies an impervious stratum. The WQter table is
in the sandy la~r at a depth of 1.5 m below the ground surface. Water is pumped out from a well at the raze
of 100 litres per second and the drawdown of the water table at radial distances of 3.0 m and 25.0 m is 3.0
and 0.50 m, TeSJH!c/ively. De/ermine /he coeffICient of penneability.

Solution. From Eq. 8.21 ,

In this case, Z2" 8.50 - 0.50 - 8.0 m and Zl" 8.50 - 3.0 .. S.sO m

Th ' k _ 100 x 10-' 1 (25/3)

ere.ore, • [(8)' _ (5.50)') og,
- 0.002 m/sec - 2 mm/sec.

Illustrative Example 8.7. Dnennille the coejficielll of permellbWly of a confined aquifer 5 m thick which
Rilles a .frcelli), tIi.~c/llIrge of 20 /itreslsec through (/ well of 0.3 til radills. The height of water in 'h e well which
1\'(1.\' 10 '" aIJo\'(! the base lJeJ()I1.~ pumping dropped to 8 m. Take the I'Mius of influence as 300 m.

k = q /ogr (Rlr)
Solution. From Eq. 8.26,

, = ~~2~ l~~ (~~/O~ = 0.0022 m/"c.

lIIustrntive Example 8.8. De/ermine the average coefficient of pemllmbiliry ill 'he horh,ollral and
wmical diret',j(JI1.~ for (I deposit ("(msi~'ril1g of llime layers of thickness 5 m. J til a/1d 2.5 m and having the
cm'fficit:III.\' of perml'a{,ility of 3 x /0-1 /11I11/.H~C. 3 x JO-.~ IIIIIi/sec. and 4 x J(r 2 mmhec. respectively. Assume
tile layer.\· an: i.Wllrvpic,
Solution. From Eq. R.4J. taking /I = 3,

I. _ (1.,,), 11, + (khh X 112 + (k"h x H~

!J - H, + H2 + H.l
3 X 10- 2 X 5 x 10~ + 3 x IO- s x I X 101 + 4 X 10-2 x 2.S x 101
(S + I + 2.S) X 10'\
0.15 + 0.00003 + 0.10
0.0294 mm/sec.

From Eq. 8.42. k" = Hfl i + Z2 + H~

--.!.... + ---.!... +---.-2..
(',.), (',.), (',J.,

k" = 5 + I + 103 ~ 2~5 ~ = 2.S x 10.... mm/s

~+~+2.SX 10'
3 x 10-2 3 x IO- s 4 X 10-2

IIIustr-dtive Exumple 8.9. Fig, E 8'9~

show.\· (1/1 aquifl'l' ille/illl'li 01 100 10 Ihe --';-m
horiZOn/al. Tltl! dijJl'l'I'IICt! vf 1I'(/fl!Y levels in ~
~7 6~b.f,~~)~\~it:~! ;:;~"~:!:e~:,,;;;;;~~:~(l~~.~;:~: .;',::'~ .', :, : -:" :."."
nUll/sec. Thl! depll!
Ihrrmgh Ihe al{III/CI'P.l'l' IlIIil widTh ifk = 0.7
of aqmler I/ormal In Ihe
direClirJII afpmv is 2.95/ III .
••. •.::.:.: -::":" . ',' .
• '. : ' :.; :
Solution, Lenglh of aquifer between two ' I. 60 m -,
observation wcllt; Pig, B-8.9

= 601co)l 10° = 60.926 m

Hydfllulir.: gmdienl = /ilL = ~9026 = 0.082

From Dilrcy's law, dis~ha!ge !;ler unit width.

q =k iA
= 0.7 x 10- 3 x 0.082 x (2.95 x I) = 0.169 X 10- 3 m3/sec
= 0.169 lit/sCi:,
Illustrative Example 8.10. Fig. £-8.10 shows an
upt:rimenlal set- up. If 30% of the effective head is lost T
in the soil A, determine the total head and the
piezometric head at points 1 and Z. ~ ..L
Determine the coefficient of permeobiliry of the soil 0 ·3m SOIL B
B if thai of the soil A is 0.5 mllllsec.
Solution. 0·3m
Piezometric bead at (1) 0.3 + 0.3 + 0.4 1.0 m =
Datum head at (1) = - 0.60 m
Total head at (1) = 1.0 - 0.6 = 0.4 m
Head lost in Soil A = 0.3 )( 0.4 = 0.12 m
Thtal bead at (2) = 0.40 - 0.12 = 0.28 m Fig. E-8.10.
Datum bead at (2) = -0.30 m
Piezometric head at (2) = 0.28 - (-0.30) = 0.58 m
Loss of head in soil B = 0.7 )( 0.4 = 0.28 m
Let kB be the roefficient of penneability of soil B.
Since the discharge and area are the same in both the soils,

or kg )( 0.28/0.30 • 0.5 )( 0.1210.30

or ks - 0.214 mm/sec.
llIustraUve Example 8.11. Determine the
discharge per unit width of the slot in Fig. £-8
11 if the drawdown is 2.3 m. 11le coefJicient of
permeability of the soil is 1 )( j(T2 mmlsec.
Also determine the elevatjon of the water
------ ::==:-
surface at a distMce of 30 m from the centre of
the slot.
Solution. Let us coosider flow at a distance
of x from the centre of the slot. Using Darcy's
law, discharge per unit width _ _.LJ._ _ _----Jl.L_ _ _.LJ.-1._ _ _

q _ k
dz )
;& ,(z, I)
• ..-I ' ----t160 m - -I
qdz_kzdz Fig. E-8.n .


... (0)

Substituting the values given,

_ 1 , 10-' , 10--' (13.S' - 11 .2') '/ _ 000177" 1/1/
q 2 (160 _ 0) m sec • , ""

The water surface z at x = 30 m can be determined using Eq. (a).

01775 'O 's _ 1 )( 10-2 )( 10-3 (; - 11.2 )
, , • 2(30-0)

or ;. - 125.44 .. 2 x 30 x 0.1775 .. 10.65

or z .. 11.666 m.
Illustrative Example 8.12. A capillarity--permeabilily test was conducted in two stages under a head of
50 em and 200 em al th~ end of entry of water. In the first stage, the wetted surface advanced from its initial
position of 2 em to 8 em in 6 minutes. In the second stage it advanced from 8 em to 20 em in 20 minutes. If
the, degree of saturation at the end of the test was found to be 90% and the porosity was 30%, determine the,
capillarity head and the coefficient of permeability.

Solullon. From Eq. 8.37. ~ - >1 21<. (h, + h,)

tz - 'I .. ----s;;-;;-
~ 2I<.(50+h,)
6)(60 .. 0.9)(0.30
k. (SO + h,) - 0.0225 ... (1)
~ - xi 2!,,(h1 + he)
From Eq. 8.38. I, _ I, - ----s;;n--
(20)' _ (8)' 2k. (200 + h,)
20)(60" 0.9)(0.3
or k,. (200 + h,) - 0.0378 .. .(2)
From Eqs. (1) and (2).
200 + he .. 0.0378 .. 1 6ft
50 + he O.022S .
he .. 170.59 em
From Eq. (1). k,. (50 + 170.59) - 0.0225
or t .... 1.01 )( 10.... cm/sec.


A Numerkals
8.1. (0) A CODStmt·head permeability test was run on a sand sample 30 em in length and 20 cml in area. When a
loss of bead was 60 em, the quantity of waler ooIlecled in 2 minutcs was 250 mi . Dclennine Ihe mefficient
~ of permeability of the soil.
(b) If the specific gravity of grains was 2.65, and dry mass of the sample, 1.1 kg, find the void ratio of the
sample. [Ans. 0.052 an/Sec; 0.445]

8.1. torr:~~~~:~n:~~IZnt:t f:~~::n~: :m~m~l~ ~ :a~r=~_:i:i. ~~

was 4 an in diameter and 30 em long. calculate the OJefficient of permeability of the sand.
[Ans. 0.0275 an/sec]
8.3. During a pumping test, 8 well was sunk through 8 stratum of dense sand 10 III deep overlying iln impervious
stratum. Observation holes were drilled al 15 m and 6.75 m from the well. Initially. the waler 1~1 in the well
was 2.50 m below the ground surfooe. After pumping until steady conditions had been achieved. the waler level.
In the cbservalion wells had dropped 1.95 m and 050m, respeaively. If the steady dischnrge was 5 litreslsec,
determine the a:.efficienl of permeability. [Au. 0.698 x 10-1 cmIscc]
8.4. A penneameter of diameter 82.5 mm contains a column of fine sand 460 mm long. When water flows through
il under a oonSlant head 81 a rate of 191 ml/minute, the loss of heod berween two points 250 mm apart is 3m
nun, calculate tho coefficient of permeability.
If falling head leSI is made on the same sample using 8 stand pipe of diameter 30 mm, in what time will
the water level in stand plpe fall from 1560 mm 10 1066 mm above outflow level.
{Aas. 3.92 x 10- 1 mmlsec; 59.1 sec]

8.5. Calculate Ihe coeflklent of pemleability of a soil sOlmp[e 8 em in height and cross-sectional area 60 cm 2. It is
observed thnt in [2 minutes. 600 ml of water passed down under an effective constant hc~d of 50 em.
On oven drying, Ihe test specimen weighs 750 gm. Taking 2.70 as speeific gravit~ of soil, calculate the
seep:lge velocity of water during the test. lAos. 2.22 x 10-' em/sec; 0.33 emlsec.]
8.6. Fig. P-8.6 shows :J. eros.q·se<:tion through the simla underlying a site. Calculate the equivalent permeability of the
layered system in the venical and horizontal din'Clioll.
.. Assume thaI ench layer i~ isotropic.
[Ans. 1.41 x 10-6 cm/sec: 0.081 emlsec1

Fig. P-S.6.
8.7. A glucial cl;lY deposit eontnins a series of sill partings in il at un average venical spacing of 2 m. If the silt
layel'll are about 5 mm in thiekne.qs and have a permeability of one hundred limes thlll of the clay. determine Ihe
ralio of the- horizontal and vertical penlle.1bi litics. [Aos. 1.244]
,8.8. In l\ flllling-head permeameler ir Ihe time intervals for drop in levels from II( to "2 and 1z2 to 11:1 are equal. prove

8.9. If the eITcrlivc gmin sile of the soil is 0.3 mm, estimate the cocfficielll of permeability. Take Hazen's C = 10.
[Ans. 0.9 mm/sec[
8.10. A soil ha~ a eodlicient of pcrme.1bilily of 0.5 x 10-4 emlsce at 20°C. Determine its vulue when the temperature
rises 10 35°C. (~11O" '" 10.09 x 10-~ paiM: and ~IW'" 7.21 x 10-3 poise). [Ans. 0.7 x 10-4 emlsecJ
8.11. A dminage pipe beneath :I dam h;\s m..-come clogged with sand whose cocflicient of permeability is 10 m/day. It

~=tr~~~ ~~C;~n~~.:~s ~~wmt.h~':~l :~SSP~~lii~n~i I~~~~~~~ew;~ ~~es ~~e~,;~~ ~~a:~~~~ll:~l~~np:~

was filled with sand? [Ans. 26.67 mJ
8.12. A soi l has the coefficient of permcnbility of 0.4 x 10-4 em/sec 1lt :I void ralio of 0.65 llOd a temper,lIu re of
30"C. Detemline the coefficient of permeability al Ihe same void ralio and a temperatu re of 20°C. At 20G C.
p,..= 0 .998 glll/mi and ~ = 0.010 1 l>Oisc lind al 30~C. p .. '" 0.996 gmlml and ~ '" 0.008 poise.
What would be the eoeflident ot' penneability al a void ratio of 0.75 and a temperature of 20°C?
(Ami. 0.317 x 10-4 emlsee; 0.422 x 10-4 cmlsee]

B. Descriptive and Objedi\'e Iype

8.13. Whal is Darcy's law'! What arc its limil,ltions '!
8.14. WIMt afC differcnt methods for determination of the coellident of permeabilily in a laborutory ? Discuss their
8.15. Describe pumping-om methods for the determmation of tlte coefficient of pemlenbility m the field. What nre
their adnntagcs and disadvantages? What arc Dupuit's assumptions "
8.16. Discuss open-end and packers methods for the determination of the coefficient of permeability. Compare Ihese
methods with the pumping.out methods.
8.17. What is Alkn Ha;r.en·s funnula for th\'! eocflicient uf permeabilily '! What is ils usc'? Compare this with
Kozcny-Carman eqUl.ltiun and Loudun's formu la.
8.18, 'De~ribe in brid the capillarity-pcrme,lbility t ~t ? Why the values o f Ihe cOfmciem of pcnneability obtained
from this te~t diller frollllhose obUlined rrom other tests?

8.19. How would you (\ctermine the average permeability of a soi l deposit consisting of a number of layers ? What
is its use in soil enboinecring?
8.Z0. Write whether the following statements are true or fnls<:.
(a) The coellicienl of pcrnlcability of II soil increa$Cs with an increase in temperature.
lb) The soils with [\ higher void ralio have alw3Ys greater pt!mll~ability than soils with a smaller void ratio.
(el The coctlic.:icnl of pcnncability decreases with un increase in the specific surfncc.
(d) For a given soil, the coefficient of permeability incrctlscs with an increase in void mtio.
tel For a soil deposit co nsisting of isotropic layers, the cocftident of permeability parallel \0 the plane of
st[;).lificalion is always greater than that normal 10 [his plane.
if> The variable-head permeability tcst is used for fine- grain¢.! soils_
(8) The line joining the piezometric.: surra(:"cs i~ also known us the hydraulic grac.lient line.
IAns. True (a). (e), (tI). (to). 00, (g»)
C. Multiple-Choice Questions
I. The pcrmellbility of sOil varies
(a) inversely as square of grain size (b) liS SqUllrc of grain sizt/:
(e) as grain size (tl) invt/:rsely as void ratio.
2. The maximum particle size for which Darcy's IllW is applicnble is
(a) 0.2 mm (b) 0.5 mm
(e) 1.0 mm (J) 2.0 mm
3. According to U.S.B.R .. n soil with n coemdent of pcrmeubiHty of 10-4 mmlsec will be classified as
(a) Pervious (b) ImperviOUS
le) Semi-pervious (e) Highly pccvious
4. The coefficient of permeability of clay is generally.
(a) Between 10-1 lind 10-1 mmls (b) Between IO-~ and 10-4 millis
(e) Between 10-:'1 and 10-11 mmls (JJ Less then ro-ll mm/s
5. A constant-head permeamcter is used for
(a) Conrse-grained soils (b) Silty soils
(e) Clayey soils {d)Organic soils
6 , The coemcient or permeability of a soil
(a) increa.~es with a increase in temperature.
(b) increases with II decrca.~e in temperature.
(e) incrcase~ with II dt.'Crea.~e in unit weight of water.
(tI) decreases with an increase in void rJtio.
1. A soil has a discharge velocity of 6 x 10-1 mls and a void r.llio of 0.50. Its seepage velocity is
(a) 18 x 10-1 mls (h) 12 x 10-7 mls
(C') 24 x 10-1 m/s (tl) 36 x 10-7 IIlls
8. In a pumping.out lest. tlte druwdown i.~ 5m. If the coefficient of permeability of the soil is IO-lmls, the radius
of inlluence will be about
(a) 250 m (b) 300 m
(e) 150 m (rl) 200 m
9. For II sphere of 0.5 111111 diameter. the specific surface is
(a) 12 mm- I (b) 6 mm- t
(c) 8 mm- I (rl) 9 mm- t
Seepage Analysis

Seepage is the flow of water under gravitational forces in a pcnneablc medium. Flow of waler lakes
place from a point of high head to a point of low head. The flow is generally hlminnr. ,
The path taken by a water particle is represented by a flow line. Although an infinite number of now
lines can be drawn, for convenience, only a few arc drawn. At certain points on different flow lines, the total
head will be the same. '111e lines connecting points of equal total head can be drawn. These lines arc known
as equipotential lines. As flow always takes place along the steepest hydraulic gradient, the equipotential lines
cross flow lines at right angles. TIle flow Unes and equipotential lines together form a flow net. The flow net
gives a pictorial rcpresentalion of Ihe path taken by water particles and the head variation along Ihat path.
Fig. 9.1 (a) shows a glass cylinder containing a soil sample of length L. A steady now occurs vertically
downward through the soil sample under a head of II. The elevation head, the pressure head and the total head


Point Elevation Pres~ure Totol

"eo:!(he) head(t-p) heod (H)
line~ 0·151'1
Equipotentla t
li n e~

I) 0 ·251'1
O·5L O.5L"'H,-O.5h L+Ht-O.51"1
,,0.5"-O.5l :0·51'1

Flow nel


Fig. 9.1. Vertic.11 flow through .$(Iii.


at points. A, Band C can be worked oul as shown in Fig. 9.1 (b) and 9.1 (e). The point B is at a height of
0.5 L above the datum. As the rate of loss of head is linear, the loss of he.'ld upto point B is hfl. Therefore,
the total head at point B is IIfl. Fig. 9.1 (d) shO\Vs 0 simple flow net, in which five flow lines and an equal
number of equipotcntinllincs are drawn. TIle equipotential lines are horizontal and the now lines arc vertical
in this case. If a dye is inserted al a few points on the top of the soil sample, the paths taken by the dye
represent the flow lines. 11lc flow nets in aclua! soil engineering problems are not as simple as shown in the
In Ihis chapter, the methods for construction of flow nct and their uses arc discussed. 1be forces
associated with seepage and their effect on the stresses are dealt in the following chapter.
The simple method of construction of flow net as explained above cannot be used for soil engineering
problems in which the flow is generally two-dimensional The Laplace equarion is used in the construction
of the flow net in such cases.
The follOWing assumptions arc made in the derivation of the Laplace equation:
(1) The flow is two-dimensional.
(2) Water and soil are incompressible.
(3) Soil is isotropiC arfd homogeneous.
(4) The soil is fully saturated.
(5) The flow is steady, Le., flow conditions do not change with time.
(6) Darcy's law is valid.
Let us consider an element of soil of size dx by dz through which Dow is taking place (Fig. 9.2). The
third dimension along y-a:ds is large. For convenience, it is taken as unity. Let the velocity at the inlet and
outlet faces be v" and ( v.. + ~: . dx) in x-direction and Vz and ( ".. + ~ . dz) in z-direction.

-... ----. Yx + ~V, 1
~ d_

Fig. 9.2. Two-dImensional Row.
As the flow is steady and the soil is incompressible, the discharge entering tbe element is equal to thal
leaving the element.

Thus v"dz + Vz dr - (v" + ~ . aX) dz + (Vz + ~ . tit) dx

(~ + ~) dxdz • 0

or (~ + ~) .. 0 ...(9.1)

Eq. 9.1 is the continuity equation for two-dimensional Dow.

Let h be the total head at any point. Tbe horizontal and vertical componenlS of the hydraulic gradient are,

i.o; .. -~, and ~ .. -~

The minus indicates that the head decreases in tbe direction of flow.

From Darcy's law, V.o; .. -k:.: ~, Vz .. -kz ~

Substituting in Eq. 9.1, _~ if h _ k if h .. 0

ac?- 'ac
or k iPh /,. [Ph 0
As the soil is isotropic., kx .. k:.. Therefore,
{Ph a2 h ... (9.2)
Eq. 9.2 is the Laplace equation in terms of head h.
Sometimes. the Laplace equation is represented in termS of velocity potential t, given by
__ kh
~- -k~
Therefore, v, -

- -k ~
Substituting the values of V;r and v, in Eq. 9.1,

t.t t.t 0
ar'+ai'- ... (9.3)

Eq. 9.3 is the Laplace equation in terms of velocity potential.

Laplace's equation can be solved if the boundary conditions at the inlet and exit are known. The equation
represents two families of curves which are orthogonal to each otber. One family represents the flow lines
along which the flow takes place. The other family represents the equipotenliallincs along which the potential
@ or total head (h) is constant. The graphical representation of the laplace equation'> is, therefore, a flow
Stream function N) is a scalar function of me coordinates 1; Z such that its partial derivatives satisfy the
follOWing equations:


and ... [9.4(b)]

As a stream function is a continuous function, its total differential is given by

ax az

SubSlituting the values of ~ and ~ from Eq. 9.4,

dtp .. - v~ dx + v... dz.

If the stream function is constant along a curve, dip .. O. TIlerefore, - II: dr + V.o: dz. .. 0

(1!) _"-
dx... V.o:

111e tangent nt any point on the 'P-curve gives the directions

of the rcsultnnt velocity (v) (Fig. 9.3). Hence, the 'P-curve
repreSents the now line. The curves with constaO! values
'PL, 'P2 .... 'PII are the flow lines.
Velocity potential ($) is a scainr function of x and z such
that it derivatives sntisfy the following equations (Refer Sect.
9.2). /

-k* . .
and *.
~ - v, -

v: .. - k y£ ... [9.6(b)J

Integrating, Eqs. (a) and (b), $ (X, z) .. - kh (x, z) + fez)


<Ind <p(x, z) .. -kh(x, z) + g(x) lb)

Sil)Ce x and z can be varied independently, Pig. 9.3. flow CUNes.

f(x) .. g (x) - constant, say C

Therefore, ¢I (x, x) .. - klJ(x. x) + C
If the total head h is taken as a constant, it represents a curve for which 4' has a conslant value. This is
an equipotential line. Assigning different values to h such as hi ,h2 • ... hll • we get a number of equipotential
lines ¢II, 4>2, ,.. $".
The slope along an equipotential line cp can be determined as under. The total differential is given by

If $ is a constant along a curve, dcp .. 0

Hence, O-~'dx+~dz
or (dz)
dX ... - ~ v,
acp/oz .. - ~ ... (9.7)

From Eqs. (9.5) and (9.7),

(1!) (1!) __ "-

dx ...
dr. V.o:
x "- --1
Thus, the stream function and the potential function are orthogonal to each other.
From Eqs. (9.4) and (9.6), ~ . ~
Ox .. az

or n~
ariJz" iPz

and -~-~
., ax

_i'.!.. ~
ilxiJz 0:2
Therefore, ~ + ~ __ .i.t + l i _0
;v? ar- axaz araz
Thus., the stream function ("') also satisfies the Laplace equation.
Determination of Discharge
The discharge 6q between two adjacent flow lines 'tjI and (til + .6.",) can be determined as follows
[Fig. 9.3 (a)].
The discharge is equal to the resultant velocity v multiplied by the nonnal distance (An) between 'tjI and
('I' + d\j». Obviously.
discharge _ - v~ de + v", dz
Therefore, 6.q - J",:t+ '"
(- v" dr + v",dz)

Substituting the value of v", and v", from Eq. 9.4,

Aq • f..... (£'ax!>. . d>: + £'!>.)

ar . dz • f.•••• d\j> • A 'I' ... (9.8)
In other words, the flow between two adjacent flOW" lines is ronstant and is equal to the difference of
stream functions of the two lines.
Fig. 9.4 shows a flow field fanned between two adjacent flow lines and equipotential lincs. If V6 is the
velocity along the stream line represented by 'tjI,

Fig. 9.4. Flow field.

v",_v,cosa . ..[9.9(a)]
Vz - -v,sina ...[9.9(b)]
The potential function !p can be written as

~.~~+~ . ~
Using Eqs. 9.6, ~ _ v", cos a + v", (-sin a)

Substituting the values of v", and v" from Eqs. 9.9,

a, 2
as-v.cos a+v,sm a-v6
. 2
... (9.10)


~ .. -Vz sinn + v'" coso.

~_v.. Sin2a+vICXJS2a_ v, ... (9. 11 )

From Eqs.. 9.10 and 9.11. ~ ~

as - an
~ ~ ... (9.12)
as .. !J.n
The flow nct must satisfy Eq. 9.12.
It is convenient to construd the flow net such that the change in stream fundion (A,\,) between two
adjacent flow lines and the change in potential function (IJ.¢I) between two adjacent equipotential lines nrc
Therefore 6$/!J. ~J .. con.'.tant
From Eq. 9.12, !J. s /11 n .. constant
Allhough any fixed ratio of flsll:ln can be used, for convenience, c.sl l::.n is kept unity. 1ltercfore, in
actual pl1lctke, the [low nct consists of approximate squares,
Os _ On ... (9.13)
Thus the distance between two adjacent flow lines is equal to the distance between two adjacent
equipotential lines.
lbc ch..1rnctcristics of now nct can be summarised as under:
(1) The fundamental condition that is 10 be satisfied is that every intersection between a now line and
an equipotential line should be at right angles.
(2) The second oondition to be satisfied is that the discharge (hLJ) between any two adjacent now lines
is constant and the drop of head (M) between the two adjacent equipotential lines is constanl.
(3) "be rnlio of the length and width of each field (lls/ tJ. n) is conslnnl. The ratio is gcnernlly taken as
unity for convenience. In other words, the flow net consists of approximate squares.
The flow net can be obtained by anyone of the following methods. as discussed in the following
(1) Graphical method, (2) Electrical analogy method.
(3) Soil Models, (4) Plastic models,
(5) Solution of L1place's equation.
It will be assumed that the flow is two-dimensional. In many of soil engineering problems, such as flow
through a long carth dam, seepage under a long sheet pile and seepage below long gravity dams, Ihe flow is
actually two-dimensional. In all such cases, vertical sections at different points along the length are identical.
The velocity has components only in two orthogonal directions (x, z), the component in the third direction
(y-dircction) is zero. However. if the length of the soil mass in the third direction (y-dircction) is small, the
end effects are important and the flow is not truly two-dimensional and Laplace's equation. as derived above,
docs not apply.
The graphical method of flow net construction is the most commonly used method. lbe hydraulic
boundary conditions which define the limiting flow lines and equipotential lines should be first identified and
established. A reasonably gcxxl now net can be drawn by the gmphical method even by a novice with some
practice. However. for getting a good flow net. a lot of prnctice and patience is required. Fortunately, the
accuracy of the oomputation of hydraulic quantities, such as disch:Jrge and pore water pressure, docs not

depend much on the exaciness of the now net. A reasonably good estimate of hydraulic quantities can be
made even from a rough flow net.
'fl1e following points should be kept in mind while sketching the now net.
(1) Too many flow channels distrad the attention from the essential features. Nonnally, three to five
flow d:13nnels are sufficient. (The space between two flow lines is called a flow channel).
(2) The appearance of the entire flow net should be watched and not th:lt of a part of it. Small details
can be adjusted after tbe entire Dow net bas been roughly drawn.
(3) The curves should be roughly elliptical or parabolic in shape.
(4) All transitions should be smooth.
(5) The flow lines and equipotential lines should be orthogonal and form approximate squares.
(6) The size of the square in a flow channel should change gradually from the upstream to Ihe
The procedure for drawing the flow net can be divided into (he following steps:
(1) First identify the hydraulic boundary conditions. In Fig. 9.5, the upstream bed lcvel GDAK represents
100% potential line and the downstream bed level CFJ, 0% potential linc. The first flow line KLM hugs the

fig. 9.5. Flow Net.

hydraulic structure and is formed by the flow of water on the upstream of the sheet pile. the downstream of
lhe sbeet pile and at the interface of the base of Ihe dam and the soil surface. "lbe last - now line is indicated
by the impervious stratum NP.
(2) Draw a trial flow line ABC adjacent to the boundary line. The line must be at right angles to Ihe
upstream and downstream beds.
The location of the first trial line is determined from experience. An experienced person will make a
good estimate of the first trial line and subsequent work would be reduced.
(3) Starting from the upstream end, divide the first flow channel inlo approximate squares by
equipotential lines. The size of the square should change gradually.
Some of the squares may, however, be quite irregular. Such squares are called singular squares.
(4) Extend downward the equipotential lines forming the sides of the squares. These extensions point out
approximate width of the squares, such as squares marked (1) and (2).
Other sides of the squares are set equal to the widths as determined above. Irregularities are smoothened
Qui, and tile next flow line DF is drawn joining these bases. While sketching the flow line, care should be
taken to make flow fields as approximate squares throughout.
(5) The equipotenlial lines are further extended downward, and one more now line GlD is drawn,
repeating the step (4).
(6) If the flow fields in the last now channel are inconsistent with the actual boundary conditions, the
whole procedure is repeated after taking a new trial now line.

II is nOl necessary tbat the last flow channel should make oomplete squares. The flow fields in the last
channel may be approximate rectangles with the same length to width ratio. In this ca<>e, the number of flow
channels would not be full integer. In facl, the flow channels will be an integer only by chance.


According to Darcy's law, the discharge in a soil mass is proportional 10 the hydraulic head (h).
According to Ohm's law, the current in an electrical conductor is proportional to the voltage (E). An analogy
exists between the two types of now. The analogous quantities in the two systems are given in Table 9.1.
Thble 9.1 Analogous Quantities

S.Na Flow of water Flow o/CurrenJ

kfA ~
....w : q - Law:I_K' ' ,4

2. Disclurge,q Current, 1
3. Hend,h VoImge,E
4. Length, L Length. L
5. Nen,A A1ea,A
6. Permeability. k Conductivity, K

An electrical model is , made whose boundary conditions are similar to those of the soil modeL 1be
equipotential lines are drawn by joining the points of equal voltage. The now pauem obtained from the
elcctrical model are used in the construction of Oow net in the model.
The following three types of electrical. analogy modelS are used.
(I) Electrical Analogy Tray. A shallow tray, with a flat bottom , made of an insulating material is taken.
The tray is filled with water. A small quantity of salt or hydrochloric acid or copper sulphate solution is added
to water to make it a good conductor of electricity.
The hyd~ulic boundaries are simulated on the tray. For the flow below a sheet pile shown in Fig. 9.6
(a), the boundary flow lines :)rt ABC and FG. An insulating material, such as ebonite or pcrspcx, is used to
simulate the boundary flow lines. The insulating material is fixed to the tray by means of some
non-conducting adhesive, such as plasticene or bee wax.
The boundary equipotential lines DA and CE are simulated by some good conductor of electricity such
as copper bars.
For obtaining the flow pauern, an electrical potential difference of 20 V is applied to the two electrodes
DA and CEo A VOltage dividing variable resistor, known as potential divider, is connected in parallel to the
alternating current source to vary the voltage in the range of 0 to 20 V. A galvanometer (or any other null
indicator) and a probe are connected to the variable potential ann [Fig. 9.6 (b)].
The position of the equipolentiallines is determined by locating the points of oonstant potential (VOltage).
To trace the equipotential line corresponding to a given percentage of total potential (say }O%), the VOltage
divider is set at that potential (2V). 1be 'Probe is moved in the tray till the galvanometer shows no ament
flow. That position of the probe gives tbe point corresponding to 2V potential. By moving the probe, other
points corresponding to that potential are obtained. A graph sheet is generally placed below the transparent
plate to detennine the roordinates of the poinlS. A line joining all these points gives the equipotential line
corresponding to 10% of the total head. likewise, the c:;quipotential line oorrespooding to 20% of the total
head is3lbtained by changing the selling on the voltage, divider to 4V and repeating the procedure. Other
equipotential lines can be drawn in the same manner.
After the equipotential Ii"es have been draWl), flqw lines can be sketched manually. The flow lines
should be orthogonal to the Cfluipotential lines and must. satisfy the actual hydraulic boundary conditions.
Alternatively, the flow lines can be drown electrically by interchanging the boundaries. The copper strips are
used for impenneable boundaries ABC and FG and insulating strips for VA and CEo The VOltage difference

is applied acrlliS the new positions of

copper strips. The new equipotential
lines, which are actually flow lines, are
traced by locating the points with the

help of probe.
(2) Conducting Paper Method. A
conducting paper is made by
introducing graphite during its
manufacture. One side of the graphite
paper is coated with a non-conducting
material and the other side wilh Ii
positive aluminum coating. The paper
is CUI to the shape of the hydraulic
structure for which the flow net is F G
required. The boundary equipotential 7 / / ) / / / / ; ; ?/Ta( ) ) J / ) ) ))???
lines, such as DA and CE in Fig. 9.6
(a), are given a coating of silver paint.
When the paint has dried, the
connecting wires are spaced out along
the boundary strips in individual
strands and are stapled in position.
Direct current (D.C.) supply can be
used as there are no polarization TRAYFIUEO
effects. A 2- V accumulator is used for WlrH WATER

fceding the circuit. The lines of equal

potential arc traced, as in the electrical
analogy tray.
The conducting paper method is
quicker and more convenient than the
tray method. However, the accuracy is (b)
low. As the transverse resistance of the
paper is generally greater than the
Fig. 9.6. Elcdric.,l Analogy Tray.
longitudinal resistance, it causes error.
The scales of the model in the longitudinal and transverse directions are sometimes kept different to account
for difference in resistances. This makes the method more complex .
•< (3) Potential Analyser Method. A potential analyser is made in the form of a mesh of resistances
(usually. of 100 ohms). separated at each node by pins of negligible resistance. The mesh is CUI to the
required shape. It is well insulated against temperature and humidity.
A direct current with a VOltage difference of 1 V is applied to the appropriate boundaries o( the modeL
The potential at any nodal point can be read with a high degree o( accuracy. '£be equipotential lines are then
drawn through the points of equal potentiaL
lbe method is quile convenient and gives fairly accurate results.
Row nel can be obtained from a small scale soil model of the hydra~lic structure. The soil model is
placed between two transparent plates, about 100 rom apart. Fig 9.7 shows a soil model of an earth dam, with
a horizontal filter at its toe.
The flow lines are tmced direcUy by introducing a dye at suitable points on the upstream face of the dam.
The equipotential lines can be drawn by connecting the points with the same piezometric levels. For this
purpose, tiny piezometers are inslalled in the model at suitable points (not shown in figure). However, it is

more convenient to draw equipotential

lines manually after tbe flow lines have
been drawn.
TIle accuracy of (he now net
obtained from soil models is not good
because of scale effects and capillary
efIeas. Sometimes, viscous fluids are
used in place of water to reduce
capillary effects.
The main use of soil models is to
demonstrate the fundamentals of flow
nct and seepage in a laboratory. In
practical problems. their use is rather
limited, because of the time and effort Fig. 9.7. Soll model.
required in the construction of these models.

A seepage flume of width of a few centimeters is used in thi... mcthoo. A model made of plastic is
fastened to one side wall of Ihe flume, leaving II small space of 2.5 mm or less between ,Ihe model and the
olher side wall (Fig. 9.8).


Fig. 9.8. Plastic model.
A highly viscous fluid. such as glycerine, is made to seep through the small space between the model and
the side wall. The flow is laminar. As the fluid flows, it gives an accurate representation of seepage through
soil. The flow lines can be observed directly by injecting II dye at suitable points.
Plastic models can be constructed more quickly than soil models. The flow lines in such models are also
better defined. Consequently, the flow net obtained is more acaJrate than that obtained from soil models.
Different penneabilitics of the soil can be accounted for by varying the space between the model and the
wall. Anisotropic soils can be represented by a zig-zag face.
Laplace's equatiqn can be solved by numerical techniques, such as finite difference method. Relaxation
method is generally used to find the potentials at various points. Once the potentials have been determined at
different oodal points, the equipotential lines are drawn by joining the points of equal potentials. Potentials
can be obtained very quickly if a high-speed digital computer is available.
The Laplace equation (Eq. 93) can be written in fmite difference form, as
~+.+~+~-~.O .. ~~
where '10
b ch and , .. are the potentials at the four adjoining points around the central point 0 with the
potenlial " (Ag. 9.9).
The aos,s-section of the earth structure, for which the flow net is required, is covered with a square grid
with a number of nodes. The values of the potential (,) at various nodal points 2rc assumed, satisfying the

hydraulic boundary conditions. As the assumed values are not r--- --- 2 ------,
correct. there would be a residual Ro at point 0, given by the I 2 i
equation, 1 I
" + ~ + +.J + ,. -4$0 • Ro ... (9.15) :I 1I
Each node is oonsidered as a central node in tum and the
residual determined. The ooject of the rela'tatioo method is to 3 ., 1
reduce these rcsidu.'lls !o uro. It must be borne in mind that the
potentials at different nodes are inter-related and any change in
potential at one node has an effect on the residuals at the adjacent
nodes. The process is, therefore, quile tedius and time-
L. ______ .~ _____ J
consuming. Howevcr, special relaxation techniques have been
devised to reduce the effort. •
The final com~ct value of $ give the true picture of the GRID AROUMl ·0·
variation of potential. The equipotential lines are drawn through
the points o( equal potentials. 'Ibc flow lines are then drawn Ag. 9.9. Fillito Diffcl'<:llocGrid
orthogonal to equipotcntial lincs.
"ll1e methods of drawing a flow net discussed in the preceding sections are used when the boundary flow
lines and equipotential lines are given. Seepage through an earth dam is a case of unconfined seepage in
which the upper boundary of flow net
is not known. In such cases, it becomes
necessary to first locate the upper
boundary before a now net can be
Let US consider the case of a
homogeneous eanh dam on an impervi- FILTER
ous foundation and having a hOrizontal
filter at the downstream end (Fig. 9.10).
The horizontal filter starts at point C. Fig. 9.10. EArth Dam with a horizontal filter
The impermeable boundary CD is a flow line wh:ich forms Ihe,lower boundary of the flow oct. The upstream
face AD is an equipotential line as the total head at every point on this face is equal to h. The discharge face
cn is the equipotential line of zero potential. Thus, Ihn:c hyclnlulLc houndarv c(>nditicms :Ire known.
The fourth boundary of the flow net is
the lap flow line AB, which is not known in
the beginning. Below the line AB, the soil is
saturated and the pressure every where on the
AB is atmospheric. The line AB is known a<>
phreatic line or seepage line. As the pressure PERVI().J5

~:~ isisU~u: t~: P::ati~I!~i~he ht~~~ +.Difnm~IM:ip~ERv~'OUr;srn7Tn\l""~5i::...~*·~~;'~;;"

~=n~;w~:~~e ;::nlS ~~a~te;::: -=1-(t -~Z'
of soocessive equipotential lines and the KOZENV's BASIC FMABOLA
phreatic line. Once the phreatic line has been
located, the flow nct can be drawn by the
usual methods. Ag. 9.11. Kozcny" Solution.
Kozcny studies the problem using the method of conformal !nmsformation. The boundary conditio[]S fa
the now region ABeD are as under (Fig. 9.11).

Equipotential line, AD, has 4' _ - ""

Equipotential line, BC, has , _ 0
Row line. DC, has 'P - 0
Flow line, AB, has 1p • q
Kozcny's solution represents a family of confocal parnbolas of flow lines and equipotential lines. The
equation of Kozcny's basic parabola AD, with C as focus as well as origin, is
x _ 1.
('Ik. _!q r') ... (9.16)

Kozcny's conditions arc not entirely fulfIlled by any practical earth dam. However, an earth dam with a
horizontal drainage approximates the conditions at exit. An inconsistency occurs due to the fact that tbe
upstream equipotential tine in an actual earth dam is a plane surface and not a parabola as assumed by
Kozeny. OIs3grnnde (1940) recommended ilial the seepage line in actual dams can also be taken as ba<>ic
parabola. provided the starting point for the parabola is taken al point E, sucb that AE '" 0.3 AF (Fig. 9.10).
The distance AF is the projection of the upstream slope Oil the water surface. lbe coordinates of the phreatic
line can be determined using Eg. 9.16. The origin is at C, which is also the focus.
Substituting z = 0 in Eq. 9.16, the value of x is given by

xo .. i (;) - ik or q - 2kXo
The distance 2xo between the focus and the diredrix is known as focal distance (s). Thus
q - b ... (9.17)
Substituting the value of q from Eq. 9.17 in Eq. 9.16,

or i-2xs-? .. 0 ... (9.18)
Eg. 9.18 can also be derived directly using the property of the parabola that the distance o( any point P
on the parabola (rom the focus is equal to the distance from the directrix. (Fig. 9.12). lbus
~ .. s-x
By squaring, Xl + ? .. i + x2_2sx
or i-2rs-?-O
If x is taken positive towards left of F. the above
equation becomes
s' 2xs-r' _
+ 0 ... (9.19)
The value of s can be determined using the
coordinates of the starting point E (Fig. 9.10).
Substituting x .. d and z _ " in Eq. 9.19. PARABOLA~

s2 + 2ds_h 2 .. 0

Fig. 9.12. Properties of PlIl<lootli.
Taking positive sign, s _ ..; (Jl + h 2 ) -d ... (9.20)
Once the value of $ has been determined, Eq. 9.19 can be used to determine the coordinates of the
various points on the phreatic line. For diITerenl value of X, the corresponding z coordinates are computed and

An entrance correcLion is required for the phreatic

line oblained by the above procedure. lllc actual flow
line must start at point A and nOl point E. Further, the
flow line must be nonnal to the upstream face which
is an equipotential line. The entry correction is made LINE
by eye judgment as shown in Fig. 9.10. The actual
phreatic line is sbown in solid line. Fig. 9.13 shows
tbe entry correction when there is pervious grnvel 00
the upstream. The phreatic line in this case is
horizontal at the entry, as it cannot rise above for
being normal to thc inclined dis face of gravel.
Once the phreatic line has been drawn, lhe flow Fig. 9.13. Entry Com:ction for an 1.1.1$ face with gmvc:l.
net can be completed using the methods already discussed. Fig. 9.14 shows a typical [Jow net.

15 10


Fig. 9.14. Flow Net in lin Ellrth dam.

Discharge through the body of the dam
To determine the discharge through the body of the earth dam, let us consider the flow passing through
the section PQ (Fig. 9.10). From Darey's law, discharge per unit length is given by
q'"' kiA

q '"' k· ~ . (z x 1) ...(a)

From Eq. 9.19, z'"' (2xs+ s1Y:t

dz S
dX - (2xs + i)Y1.
Therefore, Eq. (a) gives, q '"' k (2.0 : s2)Y1. (2.rs +i)1'.!
or q '"' k s .. (9.21)
Eq. 9.21 is a simple «Iuation which gives approximate discharge through the body of Ihe dam.
The discharge can also be obtained from the flow net, as explained Inter (Sett. 9.14).
Fig. 9.15 shows an eanh dam
without any filter on thc downstream ~
side. The downstrcam facc through
which water escapes is inclined to the
horizontal. In this case. the phreatic
line cuts the downstream face. It i s r t h . . .
nonnally not pennilled in earth dams as
it may cause the failure of downslream
slope due 10 sloughing action. The Fig. 9.U. Flow Nel for c:anh dam without filler.

down stream face of the dam acts as the discharge face.

Fig. 9.16 (0) shows the downstream face when the phreatic line cuts the downstream fnce. 'Ihe
downstream face makes an angle p with the horizontaL 'me angle is measured clockwise from the horizontal.
In this case, the phreatic line can be drawn as in the case of the dam with a horizontal filter (Sect. 9.10),


Fig. 9.16.
laking the point C as the focus and also the origin. 'lbc phreatic line is given the entry correction as before.
An additional correction at exit is required in Ihis casc, as the basic parabola goes outside Ihe
downstream face, which is impossible. lbe actual seepage line meets the discharge face langcntially for
p < 90°, ll1c seepage line has been shown by full line, whereas the theoretical basic parabola is shown
by dotted line.
In the case of borizontal filter, the angle p is 180<> [Fig. 9.16 (b)]. For a rock toe [Fig. 9.16 (c)J, the angle
~ is greater than 90<>. The phreatic line drops vertically in this case.
Casagrande gave the charts for the exit
correction. The basic parabola is shifted by
O. ,
distance 6.a 10 locale the point where the actual '-----....
seepage line cuts the discharge face. The value o·3
of All is obtained [rom the value or "-


'" "'"
Aa/(a + 6.a) after the distance (a + Aa) is
obtained from the basic parabola. lbe value o[ .+ o· 2
Aa/(a + An) depends upon the angle p, given in
Fig. 9.16 (d). The value is also available in the
6 ·1

form of a curve (Fig. 9.17). It is wonh noting
that the correction is zero when the angle fl is
ISO. That is the reason why exit correction was o·0
not applied in the case of horizontal filler. The 30 90 126 156
chart is applicable [or p :t 30<>. /l--
Fig. 9.17. Casagrnnd's Chart.
Obviously, An .. C (a + ALl)
where C is the correction [actor obtained from the chart (Fig. 9.17)
If the angle p is less than 30<> (Fig. 9.1 8). point S at where the seepage line becomes tangential to
downstream face can be obtained using Schaffemack's method. It is assumed that part CS of the seepage line
is a straight line. A tangent at point S coincides over the length CS with tbe seepage line.

Fig. 9.18

The discharge is given by, q - jz.;j; ... (9.22)

But ~ .. i .. tanp

and z '" distance SP = 0 sin ~, where SC '" a

Therefore, q = k (a sin ~) tan ~ ... (9.23)
From Eqs. 9.22 and 9.23,

kz ~ .. kosin~tan~
zdt - asinptan~dr
Integrating between x .. 0 cos P to x .. d., and between z .. 0 sin P to h,

j ,' zdz = o~tanpj

t(h2 ....~lsin2p) .. asinptanp(d-ocosP)


or h2 _d'- sin2 p .. 20 ~ (d-o cos p)


or h'';''~ _ a'cos~ _ 2ad _ 2a'oos'~


0' coo p_ 2 ad + h2~ P .. 0

sm ~

+ 2d. V4d'-4(h'COSP/Sin'P)COSP
0" 2cosp

... (9.24)

Once the value of 0 has been detennined from Eq. 9.24, the discharge can be found using Eq. 9.23.
Eq. 9.24 was obtained on the basis of Dupuit's assumplioo that the hydraulic gradient is equal to dz/dr,
Casagrande suggested that the actual hydraulic gradient for discharge angle greater Ihan 3Q°is given by

. dz
I .. (is
where distance s is measured along the curve.
Based on tbis assumption, the discharge expression can be written as
q_k(~)Z ... (9.25)

Referring to Fig. 9.19, z = distance SP .. a sin j3

T h

Fi.g 9.19. Earth Dam with dischJirge ~ng!e greater than 30".

aod ~ - sin~
Therefore. Eq. (9.25) becomes q .. kasin'lj3 ... (9.26)

From Eqs. 9.25 and 9.26, Ie ~z .. kasin2~

zdz. .. aSin'lf3ds

Integrating, ! zdz .. aj
culnp (J

or i(h 2 - a2sin2~) .. asm'lf3 (S-o)

h2 _ 02 sinz f3 .. 2tJS sin2p _ 2az smz 13
or 02 h
-2aS+ SinZj3.0

+2S:t" 4sl- 4,,2/sin2~

a .. S_Vsl_hz/sinzp ... (9.27)
The approximate length S of the straight line CE can be determined as
S-Vd'+h' ... (9.28)
Therefore, a _ ~ - ~ ... (9.29)
Once tbe value of a bas been determined, the discharge can be obtained from Eq. 9.26.
For angle j3 > 60°, the error introduced due to approximation in Eq. 9.28 becomes large and this method
is nOI normally used.
The flow net can be used for a number of purposes as explained below :
(1) Discharge. The space between two adjacent flow lines is cal1ed a flow channel. Let Nt be the number

of flow channels. The difference between two adjacent equipotential lines is called ~ quipotcntial drop. l...ct
Nd be the number of equipotential drops. In Fig. 9.20, there are 5 flow channels and 10 equipotential drops.


" lI \ \
\8\ \\
! ! 4! 5 6\ '1
/ : ~
777;;;);;;}) 777/;; 777 77l!..17;)) J

Fig. 9.20. Uses of Row Net.

Lei US consider the flow through the flow field shown hatched. From Darcy's law, the discharge through
the flow field per unit length.

dq - k . (* 1 (dn x 1) .. (a)
where llh is equipotential drop in the flow field,
and /!..s and t:.n are dimensions of the flow field.
Substituting Ah - -k in Eq. (a),

dq - k· ~.

Total discharge, q - NI 6. q - kh. !fi .(~ )

Thking /!..s/6n = unity, q - k.h."if;. ...(930)

In Fig. 9.20, Q - kxhx1o-0.5kh

The rotio (NINd ) is a characteristic of the flow net. It is known as shape [actor (p). It is independent
of the penneability (k) of the soil. It depends only on the configuration or the shape of the soil mass.
It is not necessary that NI and Nd be always full integer. The last flow channel may consist of rectangles,
However, in the last flow channel, the \englhtbreadlh (/!..s/6n) ratio should be approximately the same for all
flow fields.
(2) Thtnl head. The loss of head (Ah) from one equipotential line to the next is hINd' The total head at
aoy point (P) can be delennined as under.
h, _ h - n x (hiNd) ... (9.31)
where n is the number of the equipotential drops upto point P.
In Fig. 9.20, n = 8 for point P. Therefore, total head at P is

hp - h-8 x (h/IO) - 0.2h

It may be noted than if piezometers were placed at different points on the same equipotential line, water
would rise in these piezometers (0 Ihe same elevatioo.
(3) Pressure head. The pressure at any point is equal to the total head minus the elevation head. As
mentioned above, the downstream water level is generally taken as datum.
For example. for point P, the pressure head is given by
(hp)p _ hp - ( - (he)p) _ hp + (he)p ... (9.32)
where (hp)p = pressure head at P and (he)p = elevation bead at P and hp is the total bead.
Obviously, the pressure head at P is equal to the height of water colwnn in the piezometers at P, as
shown in the figure.
(4) Hydraulic gradient. The average value of hydraulic gradient for any flow field is given by
i_MiAs ... (9.33)
where tJ.s is the length of the flow field and Ah is the loss of head.
The hydraulic gradient is generally maximum at the exit near point B where the length !u is a minimum.
As the velocity depends upon the hydroulic gradient, it is also maximum at the exit.
The coefficient of penncability of stratified soil deposits parallel to the plane of stratification is generally
greater than that nonnal 10 Ihis plane. Such soils are anisotropic in permeability. Let us take the axes x - x
and z - z parallel and perpendicular to the plane of stratification, respectively. Therefore kit > Ier From
Darcy's law,

v" - k"i" - -k,,~ ...(a)

and v, - k:i, - -~~ ... (b)

Substituting the values of v.. and Vz in the continuity equation (Eq. 9.1).
_. a'h _ •. a'h 0
"'ax' <'al-
k,a'h+k,a'h_ O ... (9.34)
ax' al
As Eq. 9.34 is not Laplace's equation, the principles of flow net cOllStructiOn, as described in the
preceding sedions, are nol applicable to anisotropic soils.
Eq. 9.34 can however be converted to Laplare's equation by transformation. lei the x coordinate be
transformed to the new coordinate XI by the transformation (Fig. 9.21).

x, - x,r,;;k. ... (9.35)


c.) C"
Fig. 9.21. Trnnsfonnlllion of Coordinates.

Eq. 9.34 can be written a<;

( ~)t!!+i'h.O
k. a2 a?
or a h+i'h.o ... (9.36)
a;; a?
Eq. 9.36 is the Lnplace equation in X, and z. Therefore, the principles of flow net construction can be
used for anisotropic soils after transfocmmion.
The cross-section of the soil mass whose flow nel is required is redrawn keeping the z·scale unchanged
but reducing the x- scale by the ratio ~. The flow net is constructed for the transformed section by usual
methods [Fig. 9.22 (b)]. The flow nCI for the actual section is obtained by transferring back the flow nct to
the natural section by increasing the x-scale in the ratio ..ff;7iZ;. Obviously. the flow nct for the natural section
docs not have the flow lines and the equipotcntial lines orthogonal to each other [Fig. 9.22 (a)J.



Fig. 9.22. F\ownet ror anisotropic lOils.

The discharge through an anisOtropic soil mass can be obtained from an equation similar to Eq. 930,
q • K h· (NINd ) •.• (9.37)

where k' is the modified coefficient of permeability as determined below.

Discharge through a flow channel on the transformed scale per unit width is given by
Aq • K (M/Ax,) 6z ...(0)
Discharge through the same flow channel on the natural scale per unit width is given by
Aq. k.(M/Ax)6z ... (b)
Since the discharge is the same in both the channels,
K (M! Ax,) . 6z • k,' (MI Ax) . 6z
or K • k, ' (Axl Ax)
Using Eq. 9.35, K • k.' vr;:;7fJ
or K • vr;r; ... (9.38)
The discharge q is determined using Eq. 937 with a value of It obtained from Eq. 9.38.


Let k,. and kt be the coefficients of permeability along x and z direction'> respectively and k~ be the
coeIficient of permeability in inclined s-direction (Fig. 9.23).
By partial difIercnUation.

¥s - ~ . ~ + *. . ~

i .._'
Using the relations,

-kx~. v~ _ -~ ¥Z
v% -

and VI _ - kl ~ • Eq. (a) becomes

-~ _ -~ . ~ - ~ . ~ ... (b)
Fig. 9.23. PenneAbility in an indined direction
Now V% _ VI cos a and vl _ VI sin a

~-cooa and~_Sina

Eq. (b) can be written as .. .(9.39)

... (9.40)

Eq. 9.40 is equation of an ellipse with Vf; aod vr;

as semi-major
and semi-minor axes, respectively. 1be directional variation of
permeability am be determined from the ellipse (Fig. 9.24). A line Fig. 9.24. Dirtdion:ll Vllri:\lion of
moking an anglc a with x-axis gives the intercept ...nc; as shown in figure. permeability.
1bus k, can be found.


Sometimes, two different soils are used in a soil mass, thus making it non-hoqlOgencous. The Dow lines
and equipotential lines get deflected at the interface. TIle flow net thus gels modified.
Let the coefficients of the permeability of the Iwo soils be k1 and ~. We Sh.1U consider scparalcIy the two
cases when (1) k] > k,. and (2) *1 < ~.
Case 1. kl > k l • Fig. 9.25 (a) shows the case when the soil-l has permeability more than the soil-2.
The flow lines get deflected towards the normal aner crossing the interrace. The phenomenon of deflection of
the flow lines is somew.hat similar to refraction of light rays from a sparse medium to a dense medium.
Lei aJ be the angle which the flow line makes with the normal in soil- l and a2 be the nogle, in soil-2.
Let +Jand +z be the two equipotential lines. 1be discharge through the flow channel between the two flow
lines in two soils is given by
&/1 = kl (~hl6sl) &II
sod = k2 • (illll &·v . &12
For continuity of flow across the interface, the discharge through the flow channel remains the same.
AqJ - Aq2
or kl • (AhlAsl ) • Ani - kz· (Ahlsv . An2

tl tz J'
, : l
,, kd, .f
--....... ~,'

(0) (b)

fig. 9.25. Flownct in 1\ Ron-homogeneous soil.

k l ' (IInI/"'I) - k, ' (lin';"',) ... (9.4)) •
kl k,
tan al - tan a2
lei tan al
.. ,(9.42)
k; - tana2
Eq. 9.41 must be satisfied at the interface by every flow line aossing it.
Case (2) kJ < k1. Fig. 9.is (b) shows the case when the flow takes place (rom a soil of low pcnneability
to that of high pennc.'lbility. At the interface, the flow line is deflected away from the nonnaL Using a
procedure si!Dilar to that for the first case, it can be shown U).'l\
kl k,
lanai· tan~
kl lanaI
or k; - Ian a2 (same as Sq. 9.42)
As ~ > kl> the angle az is greater than angle al and the flow line deflects away from the oormaJ.

How Net for Non-Homogeneous Scdion

Fig. 9.26 shows the flow net (or an earth dam consisting of two soils of different penneability. The now
net is drawn using the following concepts.
(1) The flow net consists of squares in soil-I.
(2) The flow lines deflect at the interface, according ot Eq. 9.42.

k, <"'"
Fig. 9.26. Non-homogeneous llCCli~.

(3) The now net in soiJs-2 consists of rectangles. The ratio of the sides of the rcaangIe can be
determined as under: From Eq. 9.41,

k) (~::) - k, (~~)
!;: - ~ (~::)
Ani .6.n:z k1
6$-1, 652-1;

1n Fig. 9.26, as ~ > k J • !J. n2 > 1.0
If the ratio of permeability is greater than 10, now net in the soil of higher permeability nced not be
drawn. Tbe 1005 of head in the soil of higher permeability is neglected. For example, in Fig. 9.26, if
k t > 104 the flow net in soil-l is neglected and it is assumed thnt the now lines in soil-l are horizontal.
The flow net will be constructed only (or soil-2, taking the interface as the uj:l>tream face. On the other
hand, if kz > 10 *10 the flow net will be drawn only for soil-I. In Ibis latter case, the interface will act as
D. discharge face.

Illustrative Example 9.1. Determine the coordinates of the phreatic line for the earth dam shown in Fig.
9.14, Find the discharge through the earth dmn from the flow net and also analytically. Taire k =
4.5 X 1fT'
Solution. From Eq. 9.20, taking d = 72.5 m and h = 30 m,
, _ >I(d' + h') - d

The coordinates of the phreatic line are determined from Eq. 9.19.
or (5.96)' + 2x(5.96)-; - 0
35.52 + 11.92x-il - 0
1be I-coordinates are determined for different values of x as under.

+72.5 m

From Eq. 9.30, q _ k h (N,INd ) ... 4.5 )( 10-6 )( 30 )( (4/19)

q ... 2.84 )( 10-5 cwnecs/m
Analytically, from Eq. 9.21, q - f,s
or q ... (~.5 )( 1O·~)(5.96) _ 2.68 )( 10-5 cumecs/m
lIIustmtive Example 9.2. Determine the uplift pressure on the impervious concrete floor 0/ the weir
slwwn iIJ Fig. 9.2. Also determine the exit gradient.
Solution. How net in construaed as shown in Fig. E 9.2. Each equipotential drop 6h is 7.5/15 = 0.5 ffi,
as nJ = 15.

Fig. E-9.2
The total head at the two extremities or the floor are 7.0 m and 0.5 m. These are also equal to the
pressure heads, as the underface or the floor is al the datum (dis level).
Total uplift roree U - t (hl + flu 1... x area
- ~(7.0 + 0.50) x 9.81 x (28.5 x 1)

or U - 1048.4 kN
The length (As) or the last C10w field ncar toe is 1.0 m.
Thererore, exit gradient (I) _ 6.h/lls _ 0.5/1.00 _ 0.50


9.1. Determine the seepage discharge through the foundlltion of an earth dDm if the flow net has 10 cquipolcnlial
drops and 3.5 flow channels. The length of the dam is 300 m Dnd the coefficient of permeability of the soil is
2.5)( 10'" cm/see. The level of water above the base of the dam is 12 m on upstream and 4 m on downstream.
lAns.66.23 )( 103 rnll yearJ
9.Z. In the experimental set up shown in Fig. P 9.2, now lakes place undcr a constant head through the soils A

Fia. P9.2.

(I) Determine the piezometric head at point C.

(u) If 40% of the excess hydrostatic pressure is lost in (Jawing through soil B, whnt are the hydraulic bead and
piezometric head Dt paim D.
(iii) 1£ the coefficient of permeability of soil B is 0.05 cm/sec, determine IDe same for soil A.
(iv) What is the dischnrge per unil area ?
(Ans.<,) 120 em, (li) 24 em, 64 an, (;i/) 0.033 cm/sec (iv) 0.02 m11scc.
9.3. A homogeneous canh dam is provided with a horizoolaJ filter drain 30 m long III ilS loe, as shown in Fig. P 93.
Determine the fcx::al length.

Fig. P9.3.
Also determine the seepage discharge per unit length jf the coefficient of permeability is 40 m/dOlY.
IAns. s .. 3.99 m, q = 159.6 m1/dayj
9.4. A Stlndy stratum 5 m thick has II slope of 1 in 10 and lies between two impervious simta (Fig. P 9.4). If the
piezometers inserted at two points 20 m apart indicate a pressure difference of 3.5m nnd the coefficient of
permeability is 1.91 )( 10""" cm/sec, determine the seepage dischnrge. [Ans. 5.96 litccSolbour]

Fig. P9.4.
9.5. Water percolntes across a rcclilngulnr silly earth fill 30 rn long and 15 m wide. The fiJI is founded on an
impervious strotum and the depth of watcr on one side is 5.0. Compute the seepage dischllrge. Ie = 0.15
crn/minute.. [Ans, 108 m3/dny]
9.6. A homogcneous dam is 21.5 m high and has a free board of 1.5 m. A flow net was constructed and the
following results were observed.
No. of polcntinl drops '" 12
No. of now chnnels =3
The dam has n horizonUlI fillcr of 15 m length
Cnlculate the discharge/m length of the darn if the coefficient or permeability or the dam mnterinl is 2.7 )(
10~ rnlsec. . [Ans. 1.35 )( 10-5 culllCCS/m]

9.7. ~~i:::': ~:~It~ ~~:e~l:f~=b~ :y~~ ~~~:v::own in FifA~,:'~I~U!~~3 :~/:a;:~~

D. Descriptive and ObJedlv~ 'l)'pe
9.8. What is a flow net ? Describe its pro~tties and applications. Describe different methods used to construct the
flow nel.
9.9. Explain the ~ or a now net.

Fig. P9.7.
9.10. Describe the electrical analogy method of flow net construction.
9.11. Prove that the discharge per unit width of .:m earth dam with Il horizOI1Ull filter Ilt its toe is equal to the
coofficient of permeability times the focal length.
9.12. Prove that the discharge through on earth mass iii given by
q ... k..-t;'Nf
where 1r .. coefficient of permeability, Ii :: head, Nt = number of flow ch:mneis,
Nd "' number of equipotcntial drops.
9.13. How would you draw the flow nct for a homogcneom earth dam without any filter 1
9.14. Whlll is entry correction of the flow nct 1 How is it donc 1
9.15. How would you conslructthe flow net when lhe soil is anisotropic 1
9.16. Explain the method of constructing the flow net in an earth dam consisting of two different zones.
9.17. Memion whether the fallowing sUitemems are true or false.
(a) The flow lines and equipotential lines are orthogonal for an isotropic soil.
(b) The number of equipotential lines and flow lines is always a full integer.
(c) In two-dimensional flow, the velocity in the thi rd direction is zero.
Cd) The velocity potential is equal to the totnI head.
(e) The flow net for anisotropic soil can be obtained from Loplacc's equation.
(/) The electrical analogy method can be used to obUlin directly flow lines.
(g) Relaxation method is used 10 determine the potentiDls at various poinlS.
(Ii) The upstream fDoe of an earth dam is an equipotential line.
(I) The shape factor depends upon the type of soil.
(J) When the flow pl\'iSCS from a soil of high permeability to that of low penneability, Ihe flow lines are
deflected aWllY from the normal. ~
(1) The equipD(ential lines make equal vertical intercepts on the phreatic line.
(I) The phreatic line of a homogeneous seccion always cuts the downstream face.
(m) The phreatic line at the entrance may rise upward.
(n) For an earth dam with a horizonUlI filter DC its downstream loe, lhe casagrande exit correction is zero.
IA..... Tru', (Q~ (,~ (j), (g), (h), ('), (I), (n)]
C. Multiple-Choice Questions
1. The phreatic line in a homogeneous dam is
(a) Circular (b) Ellipliad
(c) Hyperbolic (II) Parabolic
2. If there is flow from a soil of permeability «1 to-that or k2, the angles Ih and 02 which the flow line makes witb
the normal to the interface are related as

sin9t kl
(tI) sina2 = k2
(c) c~se l = ~
COSe2 k2
3. The pressure on :l phreatic line is
«(I) cqunllo atmospheric pressure.
(b) greater than Iltmospheric pressure.
(e) less than atmospheric pressure.
(d) nOI related to Ihe atmospheric prcssure.
4. A !low net ha.' 4 !low channels and 20 eq uipotential drops. the shape factor is
(a) 1/5 (b) 5
(a) 80 (,I) None of above
5. For an isotopic soil, k,,/kz '" 9. For the transposed section. th e horizontal scale should be
(Q) 1/9 (b) J/3
(e) nl ree limes (d) N ine times
6. The slarting point of the horizontal dminage is usually taken as .... of parabola
(a) Focus (b) Origin
(c) Vertex (d) Both (a) and (h)
7. If the flow net of a cofTcrd:lnl foundation ha.~

II = 6m. N.I = 6 and N,I = 18, k = 4 x IO-~ m/inin. then the sccp;tgc discharge (in m3/d) per m lenglh is
(0) 0.2304 (b) 0.1152
(el 1.0368 (d) 2.304
8. A fl ow net can be used 10 determine
(a) Seepage. cocflicicnt of permeability und uplift pre.qsure
(b) Seepage. coell1cient of permeability and exil gradient
(c ) Seepage, exit grndient nnd uplift pressure
(d) Seepage and ex it gmdient o nl y
9. For an an isOlropic soil with kx = 4kz. the value of the modified coefficient of permeability k' is
~)2kx W4kx
(d 0.5 kx Cd) 0.25 kx
10. For a now net wilh Nt'" 5 und N,I = 20, the shape factor is
(a) 0.25 (b) 4.0
(el lOO (d) 1.0
(An.<;. I. (d). 2. (b). 3. (a). 4. (a) 5. (b), 6. Cd), 7. (b), 8. (e), 9. (a) . 10. (a)]
Effective Stress Principle

The effective SlreSS principle enunciated by Karl Thrzaghi in 1936 fonns an extremely useful basis of the
most importanf theories in soil engineering. 1be effective stress principle consists of two parts :
1. Oefmitioo of the effective stress.
2. Importance of the effective stress in engineering behaviour of soil
This dlapter is devoted mainly to the fin! part. 1be socond part dealing with the importance of effective
stress is discussed briefly in the follOWing article. The role of effedive stress on compression rflaraderistics
and shear strength is dealt in detail in chapters 12 and 13, respectively.
The methods for determination of effective stress in soils for hydrostatic conditions and for steady
seepage conditions are discussed separately. The effect of seepage pressure on the stability of the soil masses
in described. Piping failures and the methods for its prevention are also disrussed.
(1) DeOnilion of Effective Siress
Fig. 10.1 shows a soil mass which is fully saturated. Let us oonsider a prism of soil with a O"OSS-sectional
area A. The weight P of the soil in lhe prism is given by
P _ Y,tII hA ...(a)
where YUIl is the saturated weight of the soil. aod h is the height of lhe prism.
Total stress (a) on the base of the prism is equal to the force per unit area. Thus

a-~-y,.h ... (10.1)

While dealing with stresses, it is more convenient to work in teons of unit weights rather than density.
As discussed in chapter 2,
y -.P . g
3 3
where Y is in N/m and p is in kgfm , g = 9.81 m/sef?-
Thus, Y,t/I - P,al X g - 9.81 p,.,
Generally, the unit weigblS are expressed in kN/m 3 and the mass density in kgfm 3• In that case,

Y,,,, - P7~ g - 9.81 )( to-

P,. ..(a)

For example, if P,,,, - 2000 kg/m 3 ,

Y,tII - 9.81 x 10-3 )( 2000 _ 19.62 kN/m 3
Sometimes, Eq. (a) is approximated as

U ·:-:·· W<: ·.·

YSN - 0.01 Ps.... ...(b)
In that case Y,Of .. 0.01 )( 2000 .. 20.00 kN/m 3
For convenience, "Sq. (b) is sometimes used.

Pore water pressure (u) 15 the pressure due to pore water

rilling(he VOldSO[(he,~:' :: . (102) ·1

'~:. >'.. '. '.: .....
Pore wa ter pressure IS also known as. neutral pressure or
neutral stress, because It cannot resISt shear stresses
Pore water pressure IS taken as zero when It IS equal to
'. 5011 .... :.

==-~-'-~:~ . :~:' :.0

' ._ • •:...
• •_ . _. ' -
' ,

atmospheric pressure, because in soil enginccring the pressures

used are generally gauge pressure and not absolute pressures. Fig. 10.1. S.1turated soil mRSIJ.
1be effective stress (0) at a point in the soil mass is equal to the total stress minus the pore water
pressure. Thus
0 - 0 - 11 . . .(10.3)
For saturated soils, it Is oblaincd as
0" Y... h - '1... /1
J!r o-('1'<II-'1...)h
m a.y'h
whcre "t' is the SUbmerged unit weight.
The effeaive stress is also represented by cr' in some texts.
It may be noted that the effective stress is an abstrad quantity, as it cannot be measured directly in tbe
laboratory. It is deduced from two physical, measurable quantities a and lL Thus the effective stress is a
mathematical concept and not a physical quantity.
(2) Importance of Effective Stress
'The effective stress controls the engineering properties of soils. Compression and shear strength of a soil
are dependent on the effective stress. Thus
compression • f( a)
and shear strength .. q> ( 0)
where f and <p represent some fund ions.
As lhe effea.ive stress in a soil inaemes., the compression of lhe soil occurs. This causes seUlemenl of
structures built on soils.
The shear strength of 8 soil depends on its elTective stress. As the effective stress is changed, the shear
strength changes. The stability of Slopes, the earth pre&SW'CS against retaining structure and the bearing
capacity of soils depend upon the shear strength of the soil and hence. the effective stress. The importance of
shear strength in soil engineering problem cannQ( be ovcr~mphasised. It is one of the most important
properties of soils.
As discussed in chapter 8, the pcnneability of soil depends upon the void ratio. With .tt change in
effective stress, the void rdtio of the soil changes. Therefon-.. to some extent, the penneability of a soil is also
g?vemed by the effective stress.
Let us oonsider a physical model of a soil mass, fully saturated. as shown in Fig. lO.2(a). Let us lake a
wavy plane X- X passing through the points of contact of solid particles. On the macroscopic scale, the wavy
plane cannot be distinguished from a true horizontal plane as the individual particles are of relatively small
siZe. 1berefort, for all practical purposes. the plane X-X can be assumed as horizontal.

The lOtal normal force P acting on the soil model is resisted partly by the interparticle forces at the points
of contact (P"') and panly by the pore water pressure force (P..,) [Fig. 10.2 (b)].
'Thus P - p. + p. ",(105)
At every point of contact, the interparticle force F can be resolved into the normal component (N) and
the tangential component (T) to the plane X-X [Fig. ID.2 (e)]. The interparticle forces are random in both

o Pm


I Am I .... /
j.---A ---..j
(e) (d)

Fig. 10.2. Physical model of 1\ soil mass.

magnitude and direction throughout the soil mass. The tangential components, however, neutralise one another
and the resultant of all the normal components is downward.
The effective stress is the nominal stress transmitted through the soUd particles, and is given by

(; _ sumar::~~~mpk:n~
0_ I: ",(lO,6)
Let the area of qoss-section occupied by the solid particles (minerals) be Am and that occupied by wale<
bl: A_ [Fig, 10,2 (d)J
Therefore, A - A", + A...
or A ... - A - A", ,.(10.7)
Let u be the pore water pressure. From Eq. ID.5,
P _ Pm + P", .. l:N + IV

oA - a Am + uA ... ",(108)
where 0- is tbe actual normal stress transmitted at the points of contact of the solid particles, and a is the
total stress (Eq. 10.1).
Eq. 10.8 .can be written as
a _ " (Am/A) + U (A.lA)
Using Eq. to.7, o .. 0- (A",/A) + u (1 - A".IA)
0"0 + u (I-a",) ".(10,9)
'"where Q", _ Am/A.
Q ...

'Ille geolcdmical engineer is interested in the effective stress (0) not in the actual contact stress (0). Let
us again consider the equilibrium in the vmical direction [Fig. 10.2 (d)}. We have
P _ TN + uA ...
aA .. 'EN + uA ...
or 0 _ IN/A + u (A,./A) .. .(10.10)
In Eq. 10.7, as the area occupied by the interparticle contact (mineral to mineral) A. is very small (about
3% for granular soils). the area A ... be taken approximately equal to the lotal area A. In other words,
A ... _A .
Therefc::re, Eq. 10.10 becomes 0 " IN/A + u
Designating IN/A by the nominal effective stress, 0,
0 .. a + u
or cr .. 0- u (same as Eq. 10.3)
It must be nOled that the effective stress (0) depends upon the normal force (IN) transmitted at the points
of contact, but it is not equal to the contact stress (fJ). It is equal to the total normal (orce N transmitted at
the points of contad divided by the total area A, including that occupied by water. It has no physical meaning
and, therefore. cannot be directly measured. It is much smaller (han the actual contact stress '&.
The pore water pressure due to water in voids acts equaUy in aU directions (pascal's law). It docs not
resist any shear stress. and, therefore, is also called the neutral stress. However. it is very important as tbe
effective stress depends upon the pore water pressure.
In clayey soils, there may not be direct contact between the minerals due to the surrounding adsorbed
water layers. However, it has been established by actual experiments that the interparticle contact forces can
be transmitted even through tbe highly viscous adsorbed water. The above equations whK;b have been
developed assuming '-he soil as coarse-grained may be used for clayey soils as well.
For surface active minerals, Eq. 103 is modified as
cr •
0 - u + (A' - R') ... [10.3 <a)]
where A' and If are respectively the attractive and repulsive forces per unit area.


Let us consider a soil mass shown in Fig. 10.3. The depth of the water table (W.T.) is HI below the
ground surface. The soil above the water table is assumed to be wet, with a bulk unit weight of 'f. The soil
below the water table is saturated, with a saturated weight of 'f_
Thtal down ward force (P) at section X-X is equal to
the weight (W) or the soil. Thus,
p .. w .. 1 HI A + 'f,at 112A
where A is the area of ttOSS-section of the soil mass.
Dividing by A througoout,

i. 1H} + 1,,# H2
The left-hand side is equal to the lotal stress CEq. 10.1).
! ! ! ! !U
Therefore, 0 .. Y HI + y,atH2
The pcxe water pressure (u) is given by Eq. 102 as w = 1."t+ f sa• Hz'
u .. y,.,H2 Fig. to.3
From Eq. 10.3, 0_ 0 - u .. (yHI + y_Hi) - y... H 2
0' (j .. yHI + (y_ - Y...) H2

... (10.11)
Eq. 10.11 gives the. effcaive stress at section X-X. Fig. 10.3 also shows ti<l: directions of a and u at
(a) If the water table rises to the ground surface, the whole of the soil is S.'ltUf'dted, and
a.y'(H\+H,).y'H ... (10.12)
As y' < y, the effective stress is reduced due to rise of water table.
(b) If the water table is depressed below the section X-x,
'0 - 1 H ... (10.13)
In this case, the effective stress is increased.
Thus, it is observed that the fluctuations in water table level cause changes in the pore water pressure and
the corresponding chnnges in the effective stress.
Fig. 10.4 (a) shows n soil mass under hydrostatic conditions, wherein the wmer level remains constant.
As the interstices in the soil mass nre interconnected, water rises to [he same clevmion in different
piezometers fixed to the soil mass. 'nlC effective stress al various sections can be determined using Eq. 10.3.


SOIL.ltl'5.;lIt>' (Yut~

SOIL.2!)'U\), (lui?

Fig. 10.4. W~ler Tabte aboYc soil

(I) Water Thble above the soil surface A-A:
Section A-A 0-1... 1-1, u - 1... H
Therefore, ... (a)
Section n-B o - 'I,., 11 + ("f".)l HI. and u - 1... (N + HI)
Therefore, a- [('1~",h - 'I ...} 11, - 'It' HI ... (b)
where 'I,' is the submerged unit of soil-I.
Section C-C 0 - '1 ... H + ('1~ ...)l H J + ('1~i'ihH2
u - 'I ... (H + HI + Hi>
Therefore ... (e)
where '12' is the submerged unit weight of soil·2.

(2) Water Table at the soli surface A-A

Fig. 10.4 (b) shows the condition when lhe deplh H of water abq.ve Ihe section A-A is reduced lo zero.
In this case, Ihe effective stresses at various sections are detcmlined as under:
I Section A-A CJ_u_a_O ... (d)
Section B-B 0 _ ('I....») H) , aod u _ 'I ... HI
aDd ... (e)

St.!ction C-C

Therefore, cr - 'fl' HI + '/2' 1-/2 ... (j)

Comparing Eqs. (a), (b), (c) with (d). (e) and (f). it is observed that the depth H of water above the soil
surface does not contribute to the effective stress al all. In other words, the effective stress in a soil mass is
independent of the depth of water above the soil-surface. It should therefore not be surprising that the marine
soil dCpc6its, which are under a very large depth of water, have a low effective stress and correspondingly
low shear strength.
(3) Water Table In Soil-l
fig. 10.5 (a) shows the case when the water table is at D-D in the Soil-l al depth H/. The effective
stresses at various seclions arc determined as follows. .

(.) (b)
Fig. 10.S. Wafe.r Table in (a) Soil-l and (b) Soit-2.
Section A-A a-u-Ci_O
Section D-D 0"" yllIl',
where '(J is the unit weight of soil above D.-D. u =0
Therefore, (j - '(I Hl'
Section n-n 0" • Yl HI' + (y,...h Ht" (Note. HI' + Ht .. HI)
U .. y",ll(
Therefore, a .. YI HI' + [(y,...)1 - y",l Ht .. YI HI' + YI' Ht"
Section C-C 0" - yllIl' + 'r,a)1 Ht" + (Y/ahHz
U .. y..,(Hz + HI")
Therefore, a .. ylHt ' + YI' fIt" + yz' Hz

"\VhCIl Ht .. 0, a - ylH t ' + yz' Hz

(4) Water TobIe in Soil-2
Fig. 10.5 (b) shows the condition when the water table is at EE in Soil-2 at depth Hz'. The effective
stresses at various sections are as under:
Section A-A a-u-a-O
Section 8-8 a .. yllIl, U" 0, Ci .. yllIl
Section E--E 0" .. 11 II t + YiJI'";.' , U .. 0 (Note. lIz' + Hz" .., HV

Section C-C a .. yl IJI + yzflz' + (YfOlhHz/l

u .. Y... Hz"
Ci .. "'1'1 HI + YzHz' + Yz' Hz"

where Ya' is submerged unit weight of Soil·2.

(5) Water Thble below C-C
Fig. 10.6 shows the condition when the water table is below C-C.
As the pore water pressure is zero everywhere, the effective stresses are
also equal to the total stresses.
SectIon B-B a • a ... y,H,
Section C-C 0 - a . . y,H, +YaHl
The following pointS arc worth nOling in lhe five cases studied
above. -----¥o-----
(1) The effective stress at any section goes on increasing as the
Fig. 10.6. Water Table below soil.
water table goes down.
(2) The effective stress depends upon the bulk unit weight above the water table and the submergcd unit
weight below the watcr level.
(3) The effective stresses in a soil mass can be determined from the basic definitions, without
memorising any Connula.
Let us consider the case when the soil surface is subjected to a surcharge load of intensity q per unit area.
Let us,assume that the water table is at level B-B (Fig. 10.7). The stresses at various sections are detennined
as under.
Section A-A o_q. u_O, a_q
i.e., all the points on the soil surface arc subjected to an
effective stress equal 10 q. I I I I I
Section B-B a .. q + y, HI' U .. 0 /A A
1bcrcfore, a ... q + Yl H, B B
Section C-C 0- q + y,H, + (YsahHl "
u ... y..,Hl (l"satlz
1bcrcfore, a ... q + YI H, + Yl'1I1 C C
From the above illustrations, it is clear that the effective stress
throughout the depth is greater tban the case with no surcharge
discussed in the preceding section. The difference is equal to the Fig. 10,7. Effect of SucchHrge.
intensity q. Tn other words, the effective stress is increased by q throughout.
If the soil above the water table is saturated by capillary action. the effective stresses em be determined
using Eq. 10.3. However, in this case the pore water pressure above the water twle is negative [Fig. 10.8 (a)].
The water table is at level B-B. Let us consider two cases:
(1) Soil saturated uplO surface level A-A [Fig. 10.8 (a)]
(2) Soil saturated upto level D-D [Fig. 10.8 (b)]
(1) Soil saturated upto surface level A-A [Fig. 10.8 (a)]
The pore pressure diagram is drawn on the right side.
~e stresses at various sections are determined as under.

Section A-A o ,. 0, U,. -y..,HI
Therefore, '0_ 0 -(-y..,HI) - y..,H I



Fig.tO.S. F1Teet ofcapil\ary rise.

If the soil was not saturated with capiUary action. the effective stress at section A-A would have been
zero. "hus, the capillary action has increased the effective stress by ,(""HI" In other words, the negative
pressure acts like a surcharge (q'-
Section D-D rJ =
(0" ..») HI' (Note. HI' + Ht" = HI)
I.f =- y",H( = -y.-(lil - HI')
Therefore, a = [(Y,,,,)1 HI' - y" HI'] + Y", H I
cr _ 'fl' HI' + y..,H1
If the soil had bccn saturated due to rise in water-table 10 A-A, the effective stress al section D-D
would have been Yl' Il( Thus, tbe effective sIre&'> is increased by y..,HI due 10 capillary action.
&!clion 8--8 <1 - (Ys«)' H L , u _ 0
1l1ererore. jj - (Ysa)\H\ - 'f1'1/\ + '1 ... 111
If the soil above B-B had been saturated duc to rise in water table to A-A, the effective stress would
have been y/ H, " Thus the effective stress is increased by 't ... 1l1 by capiUary action
Section C--C a - (Ysa), HI + b...h Hz . u - y... 1i2
At this section also, Ole effective stress has also increased by ,(""HI.
lt may be noted that the C[fectivc stress at all levels below the plane of saturation A-A, due to capillary
water, is increased by y",H I • The capillary water pressure y... H I acts as if a surcharge. The effect is somewhat
similar to the ronstant rompressive Stresses induced in the walls of the capillary tubes discussed in chapter 7
(2) Soil saturated upto level D-D [FIg. 10.8 (b)] .
Let us now consider the case when the soil above the water table B-B is saturated only uplO level
D-D upto a height Ht. The soil above level D-D is wet and bas a unit weight of y.
The capillary rise in this case is HI".
The stresses at various sections can be determined as unclcr.
Section A-A (J _ Il .. 0_0
There is no effect of capillary water.
Section D-D (J .. ylH l', Il " - y... flt
Therefore, (j .. yIH I' + ,(... lit
The effective stress due to capillary pressure is increased by y", H L".
Section n-D (J .. yiN + (Yz..h lit .. '(1'11/ + Yt'ITt + y... JJt"
" • 0

The effective stress is increased by 'I ... Ht" due to capillary action.
Likewise, it can be shown that the effective stress is increased by 'Iwllt at section C-C also.
The following points may be noted from the study of both cases :
(1) The capillary water above the water table causes a negative pressure '1 ... 11, where 11 is the capillary
rise. This negative pressure causes an increase in the effective stresses at all levels below the
saturation level. The increase is equal to '1 ... 11. The capillary action is equivalent to a surcharge
q - y.H.
(2) If the soil is saturated due to rise in water table, the e[fcx:tive stress depends upon the submerged unit
weight; whereas for the soil saturated with capillary water, the e[fedive stress depends upon the
saturated unit weight. In the latter case, the water does not contribute to hydrostatic pressure.
(3) If the water table rises to the top soil surface, the meniscus is destroyed and the capillary water
Changes to the free water, and the effective stress is reduced throughout.
(4) Eq. 103 is applicable in all cases. However, it should be remembered that the pore water pressure
in the capillary zone is negative.
As the water flows through a soil, il exerts a force on the soil. The force acts in the direction of flow in
the case of isotropic soils. The force is known as the drag force or seepage force. The pressure induced in
the soil is lenned seepage pressure.
Let us consider the upward flow of water in a soil sample of length L and cross-sectional area A under
a hydraulic head of II [Fig. 10.9 (a)l. The expression for seepage force and seepage pressure can be derived
considering the boundary \/ater pressures III and u2 aC1ing on the lop and hoIlom of the soil sample, as shown
in Fig. 10.9 (bXI). The boundary water pressure can be resolved into two components, namely, the hydrostatic
pressure and the hydrodynamic pressure as shown in Fig. 1O.9{bXil) and 1O.9(b)(iit).
(I) The hydrostatic pressures III(S) and u2(s) are the components which would occur if there were no
flow. If the samples were submerged under water 10 a depth of HI, lhese pressures would have



Fig. 10.9. Verticall y UPWHrd now.


(2) The hydrodynamic pressures Ul(d) and u2(d) arc the components which arc responsible for flow of
waler. This pressure is spent as the water flows through the soil. 'nlcse components cause the
seepage pressure.
At the lop of Ihe sample, III .. "1 (5) + III (d)
1... H , .. 1... /11 + 0
At the bottom of the sample, 1.12" tl2 (s) + U2 (d)
'(..,{H I + L + h) .. ,(... (H I + L) + l ... h
The hydrodynamic pressure is due to hydraulic hc..1d h. The seepage force (1) ads on the soH skeleton
due to 'flowing water through frictional drag. It is given by
J - y.hA ... (10.14)
The seepage pressure (Ps) is the seepage force per unit area,
p, .. l / A .. '1 ... h .. (10.15)
'(he seepage pressure (Ps) can be expressed in terms of the hydraulic gradient. From 10.15,
p, .. 'Yw h .. 'I ... . (hIL) . L
P." i1... L ... (10.16)
The seepage force (1) can be expressed as the force per unil volume V). as
. J YwhA h
) .. A"";L .. -:;u:- .. Y.., L
or j .. h... ... (10.17)
lbus, the seepage force per unit volume is equal to the product of the hydraulic gradient (I) and the unit
weight of water. As the hydraulic gradient is dimensionless, the seepage force per unit volume has the
dimensions of the unit weight (i.e.)!F/L)). It bas the units of N/mJ. For isotropic soils, the seepage force acts
in the direct ion of now.
Force equilibrium in seepage problems can be considered adopting either of the following approaches.
(1) Considering the equilibrium of the entire mass and using the boundary pressures.
(2) Considering the equilibrium of the solid particle or the mineral skeleton, and using the hydrodynamic
(a) Vertical F10w
(I) Upwards . Fig. 1O.10(a) shows the forces acting on the soil mass shown in Fig. 10.9 (a). The unit
weight of the soil used is the s..1turntcd unit weight. 'rne resultant force (If) on the soil mass considering the
equilibrium of the entire mass, adopting the first approoch,

1'.;1 ~I
I l4J lj]
U,' ....
R : u,+
w- ll2
u;' .... "
: LA,'_ Y."A R:W"'-ui~w"_J
:tA'f'-Y... A
h, ) fb)

Fig. 10.10. Force 1,.'quUibirum in vcrtiCllI now.


R = (W + Ud - U2
R .. (LA '(sat + '(wAHl) - '(... A (H J + L + h)
or R .. LA l' - 1whA ... (10.18)
The figure on the left-hand side shows the force diagram. The resultant force R acts downwards. For
stability of the mass, R must act downwards.
Fig. to.IO(b) shows the forces acting on the solid particles, adopting the second approach. 1be unit
weight of the soil used in this approach is the submerged unit weight. 1be resultant force (10 on the soil
skeleton is given by
R .. W' - U2'
R .. LA'(' - l..,hA (same as Eq. 10.18)
In Eq. 10.18, the first term gives the submerged unit weight and the second term, the seepage force (Eq.
10.14). It must be noted that in the first approach, the seepage force (J) is not considered separately. It is
automatically accounted for in the boundary forces.
(iI) Downwards. Adopting a similar procedure, it can be shown that the resultant force when the flow is
downward is given by
R '" 1..A y' + 1.., IIA ... (10.19)
(b) Inclined Flow
Fig. 10.11 (a) shown the flow through an inclined soil specimen. In this case also, the resultant force R
can also be determined by adopting either of the two approaches discussed above for the vertical flow. As for
the vertical flow, in tbe first approach, the resultant force R is the vectorial sum of the saturated weight


Fig. 10.11. Foroc equilibrium in Inclined flow.

(WSIl') and the boundary forces U. In the second approach, the resultant force R is the vectorial sum of the
submerged weight (W. ub ) and the seepage force (J). 1be force triangles are shown in Fig. 1O.1I(b). Thus
(1) ii _ if,•• U ... (10.20)
(2) ii - if,", • ] .. (10.21)
Thus Ihe IW,o approaches give the same resultant force R.
In Fig. 10.11 (b), the buoyant force is represented by D. Obviously,
B .. W,at - WslIb .. . (1 0.22)
The two approaches give identical results. However, the first approach is more IX>pular. It is more
convenient to determine the boundary forces than 10 determine the seepage forces. 1be seepage forces depend
upon the direction of flow and change from point 10 point. It becomes diffio.lit to determine the seepage
forces, especially in two-dimensional flow.


As the water flows through the soil, it
exerts a seepage force on the soil particles.
The seepage force affects the interparticle
forces and hence the effective stresses. 'The
effective stress is increased when the flow is
downward, as the seepage force increases the
interparticle forces. On the other band, when
the flow is upward, the effective stress is
decreased as the scepage force decreases the
imerparticle fOrces. The two cases nre
discussed separately below.
(a) I)ownword Flow. Let US consider the
case when the flow is downward (Fig. lO.12).
The head causing flow in h. T1le pore water
pressure at sections A-A and B-B are Fig. 10.12. DownwHrd Aow.
indicated by the piezometers. The effective stresses at various sections are dClennincd using Eq. 10.3.
Section A-A 0 .. 1... II"" u .. 1... 11..,
Therefore, a-O
Section Il-B a - (Yz,.)' H , + ..,••,11"", u - y... II",,!
1bercfore, a .. <'r1l..),I1\ + 1..,H.., - l..,H...1
(j - (YI' Hl + Ywlll) + l..,H.., - l..,Il..,1
(j - Yl' HI + y",(I1... + HI - H ...1)
For hydrootatic oomJitions, the effective stress is ll'IlI• as discussed in Sect. to.5, The second tenn
indicates the effect due to [low. As (H"" + HI) > H",b the effective stress is incrtascd due to downward now:
Section C-C (J .. 1M.H.., + (Yu,)IH I + (1rtlhH2 , u .. a
Therefore, a - y... H.., + (ll' + l ...) /-II + ('12' + l ...)"2
a _ YI' HI + Y2' H2 + y", (HI + H M• + Hi)
or 0 - y,' III + Y2' H2 + y",h
A oomparison with the effective Slres...es corresponding 10 hydrostatic conditions shows that the effective
stress is increased by y... h.
The conclusion that the effective stress is increased due to downward now c.1n also be drawn from
inlitutive feeling that as the waler flows downward, it exerts a drag force in the downward direction and
causes an increase in the interparticle forccs.
"(b) Upward Flow. Fig. 10.13 shows the case when the now is upward. The piezometers at various
elevations indicate the pore water pressure.
Section A-A (J - 1.., H"" , u" l ... II",
TIlercfore, '0_0
Section B-n 0- 1", H..,' + (y'....)l III, U - y..,H",1
1bcrefore, cr .. (Y.....)1 HI + l",II",-l... 1I""
.. (Yl' + y...) HI + 1",H... - y",H..,1
0' '0_ ll' HI + l ... (HI + fJ.., - 11",1)
As 11"'1 > (H) + H..,), the tenn 'r".(H, + H", - /-1,,'1) is negative, and the effective stress is less than that
~rom the corresponding hydrostatic conditions

Fig. 10. 13. UpWllrd Flow.

Section C-C a '"' y... H ... + (Y~n)1 HI + (YttrhH2 • u" y... J/...2
o .. y,.,H.., + (YI' + y...) HI + (Y2' + y...) J/2 - y... H ..'l
cr .. ""tl' HI + yi Ih - (H,.rz - H ... - HI - Hi) Y",
a .. 11' H I + 12' H2 - 1..,h
Thus, the effective stress is reduced by 1... h from the corresponding hydroo.talic conditions.


As discussed above, the effective stress is reduced due to upward now of water. When the head causing
upward flow is increased, a stage is eventually reached when the effective stress is reduced 10 zero. The
condition so developed is known as quick sand condition. Fig. 10.14 shows ..I soil specimen of length L
SUbjected to an upward pressure. Let us consider the strcsscs developed a1 section C-C.

Fig. 10.14. Quick SIIoo condilioos.

a .. Y,(>I L .. (-y' + y..,)L, U .. y",H.. 1 .. ..,..,(L + h)
1berefore, (j .. (y' + ..,..,) L - y..,. (L + h)
(j .. ..,' L - ..,... h
111e second term can be written in terms of the hydraulic gradient a'i under.
y..,11 .. Yw . (h I L) . L .. Y.., • i . L
Therefore, (j .. y'L - "'wiL

The effective stress becomes zero if 1 'L - '1",; L

or i - 1 '11. . .. [IO.23(a)J
The hydraulic gradient at which the effective stress becomes zero is known as the critical gradient (ic)'
i, - 1 '11. . .. (10.23)
Substituting the value of the submerged unit weight in terms of void ratio from Eq. 2.24 (a),

ic .. (~ : ~) ... (10.24)
Taking the specific gravity of solids (G) as 2.67, and the void ratio (e) as 0.67,

ir .. ~.6: ;6~ .. 1.0

Thus the effective stress becomes zero for the soil with above values of G and e when the hydraulic
gradient is unity i.e. the head causing now is equal to the length of the specimen.
Alternative method
The above expression for the critical gmdient can also be obtained from the equilibrium of forces. When
the quick condition develops, the upward force is equal to the downward weight. Thus
1_ (L )( A) .. (h .. L)_Alw
or (1,... - lw)LA .. A hlw
Ll' - hl. .. [10.23(b)]
or hlL .. l'/y..,
i. .. y'/y.., ... [same as Eq. 10.23 (a)]
111e shear strength of a cohesionless soil depends upon the effective stress (see chapter 13). The shear
strength is given by
s .. (j Ian ..
where , is the angle of shearing resistance. 1be shear strength becomes zero when the effective st~
(j is zero. The soil is then said to be in quick (alive) condition. If the critical gradient is exceeded, the soil
particles move upward, and the soil surface appears to be boiling. The quick rondition is also known as
boilillg condilion. During this stage, a violent and visible agitation of particles occurs. The discharge suddcn1y
increases due to an inaease.~ in the coefficient of penneabjJjt~ occurred in the process. If a weight is placed
on the surface of soil, it sinks down. The soil behaves as a IJquld having no shear strength.
When a natural soil deposit becomes quick, it cannot support the weight of man or animal But contrary
to common belief, tbe soil does not suck the victims beneath its surface. As a mailer of fact, quick sand
behaves like a liquid with a unit weight about twice that of water. A person can easily float in it with about
one-third of his body out of quick sand. However, qUick sand is highly viscous and movement In it would
require a great effort and energy. A person may die by drowning (suffocation) if he gets tired and let his head
fall into the quick sand in panic.
If a person is caught in quick sand conditions, he should keep his head high above the soil surface aod
move slowly towards the bank. He should try to calch some tree on the bank and try to pull himself out of
lhe quick sand.
I! is to be emphasized that quiCk sand is not a special type of sand. It is a condition which occurs in a
soil when the effective stress is zero. Any cohesionless soil can become quick when the upward seepage force
is large enough to carry the soil particles upward. The quick sand condition may also develop in gravel when
the hydraulic gradient exceeds the critical gradient. However, the discharge required to maintain quick
condition in gravels is very large, which may nol be available. The required discharge depends upon tbe
permeability of the soil
The shear strength of cohesive soils is given by (sec chapter 13).
s - c+otan$
The soil hIlS shear strength equal to the oohesion intercept (c) even when the effective stress is reduced
to zero. The cohesive soils, therefore. do not become quick as soon a<; the effective stress is redua:d to zero.
The quick sand conditions may be summarised as under:
(1) Quick sand is not a special type of soil. It is a hydraulic condition.
(2) A oohesionless soil beromes quiCk when the effective stress is equal to zero.
(3) 111c critical grc!dient at which a cohesionlcss soil becomes quick. is about unity.
(4) The discharge required to maintain a quick condition in a soil increases as the permeability of the
soil increases.
(5) The cohesive soil does not become quick when the effective stress is equal to zero, as it still
possesses some strength equal to the cohesion intercept.
(6) A quick condition is ma;;t likely to occur in silt and finc sand.
The expression for critical gradient in the proceeding section has been developed using the first approach
mentioned in Sect. 10.9, i.e., considering the boundary
pressures. The same expression can . be developed
using the serond approach, i.e., considering the -r h
seepage pressure.
Let us consider the equilibrium or the soil
skeleton in Fig. 10.15. The downward force is given L,--------"h 1
by lWSlJb
,\ W...b-(AxL)y'

The upward force is equal to the seepage force

(&J. lO.14).