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STUDENT CODE OF ETHIC

(SCE)
DEPT. OF CIVIL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
FACULTY OF ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY

I, hereby confess that I have prepared this report on my own effort. I also admit not
to receive or give any help during the preparation of this report and pledge
that everything mentioned in the report is true.

____________
Student Signature

Name

Matric No. :
Date

FACULTY: ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY


DEPARTMENT: CIVIL ENGINEERING
TECHNOLOGY

TEST TITLE : LIQUID LIMIT TEST

PAGE NO.:
EDITION:

1/11

REVIEW NO.:
EFFECTIVE
DATE:
AMENDMENT
DATE:

1/01/14
1/01/15

1.0 OBJECTIVE: To Determine the Liquid Limits of Soil Using Cone Penetrometer Methods.

2.0 LEARNING OUTCOME


At the end of this experiment, students are able to:
Conduct the liquid limit experiment.
Determine the liquid limit value for soil.

Identify the importance and application of liquid limit test.

3.0 THEORY
The properties of fine grains soils are largely dependent on their consistency, which is itself related
to the moister content of a dry sample of such a soil is increased is its state gradually changes from
that of a solid, through semi-solid, through plastic and finally into a liquid form. The arbitrary
boundaries between these phases are called the "consistency limits" and the Atterberg limits
provide a means of measuring and describing the plasticity range in numerical terms. If sufficient
water is mixed with clay, it can be made into slurry, which behaves as a viscous liquid. This is
known as the liquid state. If the moisture content is gradually reduced by allowing it to dry out
slowly, the clay eventually begins to hold together and to offer some resistance to deformation; this
is the plastic state. With further loss of water the clay shrinks and the stiffness increases until
there is little plasticity left, and the clay becomes brittle; this is the semi-solid state. As drying
continues, the clay continues to shrink in proportion to the amount of water lost, until it reaches the
minimum volume attainable by this process. Beyond that point further drying results in no further
decrease in volume, and this is called the solid state.
These four states, or phases, are shown diagrammatically in Figure 1.1. The change from one
phase to the next is not observable as a precise boundary, but takes place as a gradual transition.
Nevertheless three arbitrary but specific boundaries have been established empirically, as
indicated in Figure 1.1, and are universally recognised. The moisture contents at these boundaries
are known as the:
Liquid limit (LL) (symbol wL)
Plastic limit (PL) (symbol wp)
Shrinkage limit (SL) (symbol w5)

The Atterberg limits or consistency limits

The "liquid limit" (LL) is the minimum moisture content at which a soil is assumed to flow under its
own weight, which corresponds to 25 blows in the Casagrande test or 20 mm penetration in the
Penetrometer test The "shrinkage limit" (SL) is the water content at which further decrease in
moisture does not cause a decrease in volume of the soil.
The "plasticity index" (P1) is the range of moisture content over which the soil is plastic and is given
by the expression,
PI = LL PL
The moisture content range between the PL and LL is known as the plasticity index (P1) (symbol
Ip), and is a measure of the plasticity of the clay. Cohesionless soils have no plasticity phase, so
their PT is zero.

FACULTY: ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY


DEPARTMENT: CIVIL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
TEST TITLE : LIQUID LIMIT TEST

PAGE NO.:
EDITION:
REVIEW NO.:
EFFECTIVE
DATE:
AMENDMENT
DATE:

2/11
1/01/14
1/01/15

The tests to determine the Atterberg limits are carried out only on the fraction of soil which passes
a 425 pm sieve. For soils that contain particles coarser than that size, the particles retained on the
425 pm sieve must be removed as part of the sample preparation procedure. The relationship
between the consistency limits and the volume of a soil sample is shown in Figure 1.2.

Figure 1.1 : Phases of soil and the Atterberg limit

Figure 1.2 : Consistency limits/volume relationship of a cohesive soil

FACULTY: ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY


DEPARTMENT: CIVIL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
TEST TITLE : LIQUID LIMIT TEST

PAGE NO.:
EDITION:
REVIEW NO.:
EFFECTIVE
DATE:
AMENDMENT
DATE:

3/11
1/01/14
1/01/15

4.0 TEST EQUIPMENTS


1. Penetrometer apparatus complying with the requirements of BS 1377 : Part 2: 1990.
2. Cone for the penetrometer, the main features of which are as follows;
- stainless steel or duralumin,
- smooth and polished surface,
- length approximately 35 mm and cone angle 30
- sharp point and mass of cone and sliding shaft 80 g 0.1 g
3. Sharpness gauge for cone, consisting of a small steel plate 1.75 mm 0.1 mm thick with a 1.5 mm
0.02 mm diameter hole accurately drilled and reamed.
4. Flat glass plate, about 500mm square and 10mm thick, with bevelled edges and rounded corners.
5. Metal cups, of brass or aluminium alloy, 55m diameter and 40mm deep. The rim must be parallel
to the base, which must be flat.
6. Wash bottle containing distilled or de-ionised water.
7. Metal straight-edge, about 100 mm long
8. Palette knives or spatulas ( two 200 mm long x 30 mm, one 150 mm long x 25mm, one 100mm
long x 20mm)
9. Moisture content apparatus .

Figure 1.3 : Apparatus for cone penetrometer liquid test

FACULTY: ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY


DEPARTMENT: CIVIL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
TEST TITLE : LIQUID LIMIT TEST

PAGE NO.:
EDITION:
REVIEW NO.:
EFFECTIVE
DATE:

4/11

1/01/14

5.0 PROCEDURES
1. Selection and preparation of sample
(a) Place a sample an about 300 gram soil passing 425 m test sieve on the glass plate.
(b) Use the natural material if possible; if not use the wet preparation method.
(c) If the plastic limit test is also to be done, set aside a small portion in a sealed bag or container
before adding too much water, and while the soil is still firm.
(d)

Figure 1.4 : Selection and preparation of sample


2.

Checking apparatus
(a) The cone designed specially for testing soils must be fitted.
(b) Mass of cone and stem 800.1 g. This is most important. The stem is hollow, so that Lead shot can be inserted to bring the cone and stem assembly to the specified mass.
(c) Sharpness of the cone point can be checked by pushing the tip into the hole of the sharpness
gauge plate. If the point cannot be felt when brushed lightly with the tip of the finger, the cone
should be replaced.
(d) The cone must fall freely when the release button is pushed, and the sliding shaft must be
clean and dry.
(e) The penetration dial indicator should be calibrated by inserting gauge blocks between the
stem of the indicator and the top of the cone sliding shaft. Alternatively calibrated vernier
calipers could be used.
(f) The apparatus must stand on a firm level bench.
(g) If the apparatus is fitted with an automatic timing device, this should automatically lock the
cone shaft assembly 5 seconds after pressing the button which releases it.
(h) This time interval should be verified against a reference timer.

3.

Mixing and working


(a) Mix the soil paste on the glass plate with the spatulas for at least10 minutes.
(b) Some soils, especially heavy clays, may need a longer mixing time, up to 4 minutes.
(c) If necessary add more distilled or de-ionised water to give a cone penetration of about 15mm,
and mix well in. It is essential to obtain a uniform distribution of water throughout the sample.
(d) Keep the soil together near the middle of the glass plate, to minimise drying out due to
exposure to air.

Figure 1.5 : Process to mixing the soil

FACULTY: ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY


DEPARTMENT: CIVIL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
TEST TITLE : LIQUID LIMIT TEST

PAGE NO.:
EDITION:
REVIEW NO.:
EFFECTIVE
DATE:

5/11

1/01/14

4.

Placing in cup
(a) Press the soil paste against the side of the cup, to avoid trapping air.
(b) Press more paste well into the bottom of the cup, without creating an air-pocket,
(c) Fill the middle and press well down. The small spatula is convenient for these operations,
(d) The top surface is finally smoothed off level with the rim using the straight-edge.

Figure 1.6 : Placing soil in a cup


5. Adjustment of cone
(a) Lock the cone and shaft unit near the upper end of its travel and lower the supporting assembly
carefully.
(b) Make sure that the tip of the cone is within a few millimeters from the surface of the soil in the
cup.
(c) Hold the cone, press the release button and adjust the height of the cone so that the tip just
touches the soil surface.
(d) A small sideways movement of the cup should just mark the surface.

Figure 1.7 : Adjustment of cone


(6) Adjustment of dial gauge
(a) Lower the stem of the dial gauge to make contact with the top of the cone shaft.
(b) Record the reading of the dial gauge to the nearest 0.1 mm (R1).
(c) Alternatively, if the pointer is mounted on a friction sleeve, adjust the pointer to read zero (i.e.
R1= 0).

FACULTY: ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY


DEPARTMENT: CIVIL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
TEST TITLE : LIQUID LIMIT TEST

PAGE NO.:
EDITION:
REVIEW NO.:
EFFECTIVE
DATE:

6/11

1/01/14

Figure 1.8 : Adjustment of dial gauge


(7)

Measuring cone penetration


(a) Allow the cone to fall by pressing the button, which must be held in the pressed position for 5
seconds, timed with a seconds timer or watch.
(b) If an auto-timer is used it is necessary only to press the button and release it immediately.
(c) Automatic re-locking of the stem is indicated by a click. Record the dial reading to the nearest
0.1 mm (R2).
(d) Record the difference between R1 and R2 as the cone penetration.
(e) If the pointer was initially set to read zero, the reading R 2 gives the cone penetration directly.
(f) A range of penetration values from about 15mm to 25mm should be covered, fairly uniformly
distributed.

Figure 1.9 : Press the button to fall the cone and take a reading
(8)

Repeat penetration
(a) Lift out the cone and clean it carefully.
(b) Avoid touching the sliding stem.
(c) Add a little more wet soil to the cup, without entrapping air, smooth off, and repeat stages (5),
(6) and (7).

FACULTY: ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY


DEPARTMENT: CIVIL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
TEST TITLE : LIQUID LIMIT TEST

PAGE NO.:
EDITION:
REVIEW NO.:
EFFECTIVE
DATE:

7/11

1/01/14

(9) Moisture content measurement


This is placed in a numbered moisture content container, which is weighed, oven dried and weighed as
in the standard moisture content procedure according to BS 1377 : Part 2: 1990.
(a) Weight the empty moisture content container
(b) Take a moisture content sample of about 10 g from the area penetrated by the cone, using the
tip of a small spatula.
(c) Weight the wet sample
(d) Dry in the oven for about 24 hours (overnight)
(e) Weight the dry sample

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)
(e)
Figure 1.10 : Process to take a moisture content.
6.0 CALCULATION EXAMPLE
(1)

Results Calculation and plotting


(a) The moisture content of the soil from each penetration reading is calculated from the wet and
dry weighings as in the moisture content test.
(b) Each cone penetration (mm) is plotted as ordinate, against the corresponding moisture content
(%) as abscissa, both to linear scales, on a graph as shown in Figure 1k. which also shows
typical data. The best straight line fitting these points is drawn.
(c) From the graph the moisture content corresponding to a cone penetration of 20mm is read off
to the nearest 0.1%, refer Figure 1.11.
(d) The result is reported to the nearest whole number as the liquid limit (cone test).
(e) The percentage of material passing the 425 um sieve is reported to the nearest 1%. together
with the method of sample preparation.
(f) The plastic limit and plasticity index are usually reported with the liquid limit.

FACULTY: ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY


DEPARTMENT: CIVIL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
TEST TITLE : LIQUID LIMIT TEST

PAGE NO.:
EDITION:
REVIEW NO.:
EFFECTIVE
DATE:

8/11

1/01/14

Table 1 : Example of Data Sheet.


Location : RECESS
Soil description: Silty CLAY
Sample type : Undisturbed
Operator: A . Z. S

Loc. No. : 00123


Sample No. : 6
Depth of Sample : 1.5 m
Date Started :

Test Number
Dial Gauge Reading (Start)
Dial Gauge Reading (End)
Cone penetration
Average penetration

Units
mm
mm
mm
mm

Can Number
Mass of can + moist soil (Mcws)
Mass of can + dry soil (Mcs)
Mass of can (Mc)
Mass of dry soil (Ms)
Mass of water (Mw)
Water content

gram
gram
gram
gram
gram
%

1
0
15.5
15.5

2
2
15.1
15.1

21.1
19.1

3
1
21.3
19.3

24.1
23.1

4
5
23.9
22.9

30.4
25.4

30.2
25.2

15.30

19.20

23.00

25.30

11
46.76
32.51
8.31
24.20
14.25
58.88

21
57.20
38.31
8.35
29.96
18.89
63.05

32
63.60
41.64
8.26
33.38
21.96
65.79

41
71.72
45.78
8.29
37.49
25.94
69.19

63.54

Figure 1.12 : Graph for Liquid limit

Calculation of moisture content;


m
14.25
w w
0.5888or58.88%
ms 24.20

FACULTY: ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY


DEPARTMENT: CIVIL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
TEST TITLE : LIQUID LIMIT TEST

PAGE NO.:
EDITION:
REVIEW NO.:
EFFECTIVE
DATE:

9/11

1/01/14

7.0 RESULT AND CALCULATIONS

DATA SHEET
Location :
Soil description:
Sample type :
Operator:

Loc. No. :
Sample No. :
Depth of Sample :
Date Started :

Test Number
Dial Gauge Reading (Start)
Dial Gauge Reading (End)
Cone penetration
Average penetration

Units
mm
mm
mm
mm

Can Number
Mass of can + moist soil (Mcws)
Mass of can + dry soil (Mcs)
Mass of can (Mc)
Mass of dry soil (Ms)
Mass of water (Mw)
Water content

Units
gram
gram
gram
gram
gram
%

m
4

Plot result semi-log graph and determine the liquid limit.


Liquid Limit (LL) =

8.0 CALCULATIONS

FACULTY: ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY


DEPARTMENT: CIVIL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
TEST TITLE : LIQUID LIMIT TEST

PAGE NO.:
EDITION:
REVIEW NO.:
EFFECTIVE
DATE:

10/11

1/01/14

9.0 DISCUSSIONS

10.0 CONCLUSION

FACULTY: ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY


DEPARTMENT: CIVIL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
TEST TITLE : LIQUID LIMIT TEST

PAGE NO.:
EDITION:
REVIEW NO.:
EFFECTIVE
DATE:

11/11

1/01/14

11.0 QUESTIONS 1
(a) What are the definitions of liquid and plastic limit?
(b) A sample of wet clay and its container weigh 102g. After oven drying the sample
and the container weigh 60 g. What is the water content?
QUESTIONS 2
(a)

What are alternatives methods to define liquid limit and give brief
explanation?

(b)

Briefly explain why the reading is taken after 5 second?

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