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Defined as the accumulation of unconsolidated sediments and deposits of soil particles
as a result of integration of rocks.
Defined as the accumulation of unconsolidated sediments and deposits of soil particles
as a result of integration of rocks.
Rock types

Igneous Rock

Sedimentary Rock

Metamorphic Rock

Igneous Rock
Igneous rock resulted from cooling and hardening of molten rock called magma that has
originated within the earth.
Sedimentary Rocks
Sedimentary Rocks are formed
from accumulated deposits of
soil particles or remains of
certain organism that have
hardedned by pressure or
cemented by materials.

Metamorphic Rocks
Metamorphic Rocks are rocks
resulted from metamorphism
due to changes in temperature, pressure and plastic flow changing the original rock structure
and mineral composition of rock.

Categories of Soil
Residual Soil or Sedimentary Soil
Formed from weathering of rocks or accumulation of organic materials remained at the
location of origin.
Mechanical Weathering
Physical disintegration due to effects of wind, rain, running water or tectonic forces

Chemical and Solution Weathering

Decomposition of rock due to chemical reactions that occur as a result of exposure to
atmosphere, temperature changes, reaction with water or other materials.
Transported Soil
Those materials transported from their place of origin.











Silty Sand

Silty Clay

1. Grain size
2. Grain shape
3. Surface texture and electrical surface charges.
General Characteristics and classification of soil particles
1. Gravel
2. Coarse sand
3. Fine Sand
4. Silt grain
5. Clay
6. Colloidal Clay

Consist of rock fragments more or less rounded by water action or abrasion.
Quartz, well rounded pebbles and boulders, slightly worm gravel.
Fine Sand
Has particles that are more angular than coarse and fine sand particles.
Coarse Sand
Usually rounded like gravel with which it is found and generally contains the same
Silt Sand
Similar to fine sand with the same mineral composition. They are found in rock flour in
glacier moraines.
1. Pumice
2. Loess
3. Materials foreign to associated sand.
Plate like, scale like, or rod like in shape as a result of chemical weathering.
Performance is influenced by moisture and surface chemistry.
Colloidal Clay
A finer clay particle that remains suspended in water and does not settle by gravity.
Important Grain Shape Characteristics
1. Rounded particles are considered strong materials.
2. Flat and flaky particles are weak and variable.
3. Angular or roughly cubical shape particles increases resistance of soil mass to
deformation when subjected to load.
4. Rounded particle has tendency to roll over each other when subjected to load.

Why soil classification?
The particles above gravels are identified as rocks and are generally not considered as a
soil. Soil classification is primarily based on the size of particles. The purpose of soil
classification is to arrange soil into groups and label them according to certain characteristics
and engineering behavior. The name of the group gives useful information about the behavior of
soil as a construction material and foundation support.
Although soil classification apparently gives very useful information about soil behavior and
about some of its properties but it doesnt eliminate the requirement of in-detail study of soil
behavior and study of properties like shear strength, unit weight, compaction characteristics,
degree of saturation, susceptibility to frost action etc.
Soil Classification Systems
Different organizations from around the world have made systems to classify the soil
according to their requirements like some agricultural department, highway department, building
department, aviation department etc. There are two soil classification systems in common use
for engineering purposes. The Unified Soil Classification System is used for virtually all
geotechnical engineering work except highway and road construction, where the AASHTO soil
classification system is used. Both systems use the results of grain size analysis and
determinations of Atterberg limits to determine soils classification. Soil components may be
described as gravel, sand, silt, or clay. A soil comprising one or more of these components is
given a descriptive name and a designation consisting of letters or letters and numbers which
depend on the relative proportions of the components and the plasticity characteristics of the
Two of the most commonly used soil classification systems are
(a) USCS Unified Soil Classification system which is mostly used for buildings and for
structures where soil will be used to support foundations or footings
(b) AASHTO (American Association for State Highway and Transportation officials) soil
classification system
Test Required for Classification of Soil
To classify the soil in the laboratory thus some tests results were used to classify the soil;
Tests include;

Liquid limit and Plastic limit tests Atterberg limit results

(b) Plastic size analysis test

Unified soil classification system (USCS):
The Unified Soil Classification System is based on the airfield classification system developed
by Casa Grande during World War II. With some modification it was jointly adopted by several
U.S. government agencies in 1952. Additional refinements were made and it is currently
standardized as ASTM D 2487-93. It is used in the U.S. and much of the world for geotechnical
work other than roads and highways. In the unified system soils are designated by a two-letter

symbol: the first identifies the primary component of the soil, and the second describes its grain
size or plasticity characteristics. For example, poorly graded sand is designated SP and low
plasticity clay is CL. Five first-letter symbols are used:

G for gravel
S for sand
M for silt
C for clay
O for organic soil

Clean sands and gravels (having less than 5% passing the No. 200 sieve) are given a second
letter P if poorly graded or W if well graded. Sands and gravels with more than 12% by weight
passing the No. 200 sieve are given a second letter M if the fines are silty or C if fines are
clayey. Sands and gravels having between 5 and 12% are given dual classifications such as
SP-SM. Silts, clays, and organic soils are given the second letter H or L to designate high or low
plasticity. The specific rules for classification are summarized as follows and described in detail
in ASTM D 2487.

Organic soils are distinguished by a dark-brown to black color, an organic odor, and visible
fibrous matter.
For soils that are not notably organic the first step in classification is to consider the percentage
passing the No. 200 sieve.
If less than 50% of the soil passes the No. 200 sieve, the soil is coarse grained, and the first
letter will be G or S;
if more than 50% passes the No. 200 sieve, the soil is fine grained and the first letter will be M
or C.
For coarse-grained soils, the proportions of sand and gravel in the coarse fraction (not the total
sample) determine the first letter of the classification symbol. The coarse fraction is that portion
of the total sample retained on a No. 200 sieve. If more than half of the coarse fraction is gravel
(retained on the No. 4 sieve), the soil is gravel and the first letter symbol is G. If more than half
of the coarse fraction is sand, the soil is sand and the first letter symbol is S. For sands and
gravels the second letter of the classification is based on gradation for clean sands and gravels
and plasticity of the fines for sands and gravels with fines.

For clean sands (less than 5% passing the No. 200 sieve), the classification is well-graded sand
(SW) if C 6 and 1 Cc 3. Both of these criteria must be met for the soil to be SW, otherwise
the classification is poorly graded sand (SP). Clean gravels (less than 5% passing the No. 200
sieve) are classified as well-graded gravel (GW) if Cu 4 and 1 Cc 3. If both criteria are not

met, the soil is poorly graded gravel (GP). For sands and gravels where more than 12% of the
total sample passes the No. 200 sieve, the soil is a clayey sand (SC), clayey gravel (GC), silty
sand (SM), or silty gravel (GM).

The second letter is assigned based on whether the fines classify as clay (C) or silt (M) as
described for fine-grained soils below. For sands and gravels having between 5 and 12% of the
total sample passing the No. 200 sieve, both the gradation and plasticity characteristics must be
evaluated and the soil is given a dual classification such as SP-SM, SP-SC, GW-GC, etc. The
first symbol is always based on gradation, whereas the second is always based on plasticity.
For fine-grained soils and organic soils, classification in the unified system is based on Atterberg
limits determined by the fraction passing the No. 40 sieve. The liquid limit and plasticity index
are determined and plotted on the plasticity chart. The vertical line at LL = 50 separates highplasticity soils from low-plasticity soils. The A-line separates clay from silt. The equation of the Aline is

PI = 0.73 (LL 20)

The U-line is not used in classification but is an upper boundary of expected results for natural
soils. Values plotting above the U-line should be checked for errors. Inorganic soils with liquid
limits below 50 that plot above the A-line and have PI values greater than 7 are lean clays and
are designated CL; those with liquid limits above 50 that plot above the A-line are fat clays and
are designated CH. Inorganic soils with liquid limits below 50 that plot below the A-line are silt
and are designated ML; those with liquid limits above 50 that plot below the A-line are elastic
silts and are designated MH.

The plasticity chart has a shaded area; soils that plot in this area (above the A-line with PI
values between 4 and 7) are silty clay and are given the dual symbol CL-ML. If the soil under
consideration is the fines component of a dually classified sand or gravel, the soil is classified as
SM-SC or GM-GC. Soils with sufficient organic contents to influence properties that have liquid
limits below 50 are classified as OL; those with liquid limits above 50 are classified as OH. Soils
that are predominantly organic, with visible vegetable tissue, are termed peat and given the
designation Pt.

Explanation of GI the Group Index

a) Soils which are non-

GI = (F - 35)[ 0.2 + 0.005 (LL-40) ] + 0.01 (F - 15) (PI - 10)


F = Percent of soil passing the

0.075 mm sieve

LL = Liquid Limit

o PI = Plastic Index
plastic and for which the Liquid Limit cannot be found have GI = 0.
b) A-2-6 and A-2-7 soils use only the second term of GI equation.
c) If the final GI has a negative number, it is reported as zero (0).
d) Although not explicitly expressed in either the AASHTO or ASTM
specifications, GI for A-2-4 and A-2-5 are zero.
Introduction to AASHTO Classification System:
This system of classification is based upon the observed field performance of soils under
highway pavements (flexible and rigid) and is widely used around the world for highway and
airfield construction.
Soils which have same general load carrying capacity i.e. bearing capacity and serviceability
characteristics are grouped together and classified into eight groups from A1 to A8
A-1, A-2 and A-3 soils are coarse-grained soils While A-4, A-5, A-6 and A-7 represent the fine
grained soils. A-8 includes Peat, muck, and other highly organic soils.
A-1 soil is best to use as sub-grade then a-2 and so on. And poorest is A-7 soil.
Group Index
To check the quality of the soil, a term group index is defined. Higher the G.I weaker will be the
soil, a soil having G.I of 20 is considered as poorest soil overall.
Following is the formula for Calculating G.I
GI = (F200 35) [0.2 + 0.005(LL-40)] + 0.01 (F200 15)(PI-10)
F200 = %age passing for sieve no. 200 (0.075 mm) expressed as whole number
PI is plasticity Index where PI = LL PL
And LL is liquid limit and PL is plastic limit
Some rules:

If Group Index for your soil comes out to be negative take it as zero


Group index is expressed as rounded whole number


No upper limit can be any integer


For soils A-2-6 and A-2-7 following Group Index formula should be used;

G.I = 0.01(F200-15)(PI-10)
Soil is represented as A-4(5) where A-4 is soil type and Group Index is 5
A group index of (0) indicates the best construction material for sub-base, or subgrade.
A group index of more than (20) indicates a very poor material for sub-base or subgrade.
Classify the following soil by the AASHTO classification system:
Percent passing no. 4 sieve = 82
Percent passing no. 10 sieve = 71
Percent passing no. 40 sieve = 64
Percent passing no. 200 sieve = 41
Liquid limit = 31
Plasticity index = 12
Refer to table 8. More than 35% passes through a no. 200 sieve, so it is a silt-clay material. It
could be A-4, A-5, A-6, or A-7. Because LL = 31 (that is, less than 40) and PI = 12 (that is,
greater than 11) this soil falls in group A-6. From equation (23),
GI = (F35) [0.02+0.005(LL40)] + 0.01(F15) (PI 10)\
GI = (4135) [0.02+0.005(3140)] + 0.01(4115)(1210)=0.370
Thus the soil is A-6(0).