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A H M 531 Field Compaction Test By: Ahmed Essam Mansour

Objective:
¾ To determine the field density of a soil.

General discussion:
Before starting the design of any project, several criterions are
determined on plans and design paper of the project. And when we are on
the field quality control of these criterions takes place.
This is applied to the compaction criteria once established for the soil to
be used at a particular site, generally with both moisture content and
density limitations.
The quality control of field compaction is carried out by measuring the
dry density of soil taken from the field after the compaction process takes
place.
A hole of arbitrary shape is dug, and the obtained soil from the hole is
weighed and represents the wet weight. Then the volume of the hole is
measured by methods which are the subject of this report.
Then the wet unit weight is obtained by Formula 1;
*
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From the wet unit weight the dry unit weight is obtained by using
Formula 2;
*

The dug hole capacity shall be approximated to be nearly ¾ of the single


layer used in the lab testing or 15cm, which ever is larger. The excavation
of the hole should be as rapid as possible to maintain the representative
moisture content of the natural soil in the holding can.

There are several methods of obtaining the volume of the hole; some of
them are:
1. Balloon density method.
2. Sand cone method.

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A H M 531 Field Compaction Test By: Ahmed Essam Mansour

3. Nuclear method.

In this report I will be discussing the balloon density method and the sand
cone method.

Balloon method of measuring the volume of the hole:

It is a direct method of finding the volume of the hole by pumping water


into a balloon placed in the hole until it is filled with water.
The balloon is a part of an apparatus that contains a scale of measuring
the water level in a cylinder, the volume of water filling the balloon can
be found by taking the difference between an initial reading of water level
in the cylinder and the final reading.
Obtaining the initial reading which is considered as the zero reading shall
be done once before starting the test, this zero reading can be used to
obtain many holes’ volumes unless excessive evaporation occurs in the
reservoir or the balloon ruptures.
The obtained zero reading is taken after pumping the water in the balloon
so that it is filled to fit the edge of the base template in order to cancel its
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volume from the total volume of the hole.
When using the balloon method, the dug hole must be regular at the edges
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with no gravel protrusions so that the balloon will not be ruptured. Also
the hole should not contain voids that the balloon can bridge.
One of the main sources of error in the method is that at the angle of the
hole the balloon will not fit 100%, for that reason a calibration process
shall be done for the apparatus of the this method before starting the test,
this process includes finding a correction factor by measuring a known
volume such as proctor’s mold using the balloon apparatus, then the
correction factor is found by Formula 3;
*

The main advantage of this method is that it is a time saver as it is a direct


method.

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A H M 531 Field Compaction Test By: Ahmed Essam Mansour

Sand cone method for finding the volume of the hole:

This is an indirect method for the purpose of measuring the volume of the
dug hole, it is based on pouring sand into irregularly shaped hole, then the
weight of the sand filling the hole is measured and by knowing the unit
weight of the sand the volume can be determined by Formula 4;
*

The density of the soil is obtained prior to the test by filling a known
volume which is proctor’s mold (944cm3), under the same conditions that
the hole in the field will be filled. The mass of the soil in the mold is
measured and the density of the soil is obtained by Formula 5;
*

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The mass of the soil in the formula is taken to be the average of several
trials of filling the mold.
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To find the soil mass filling the hole – required for Formula 4 – several
masses shall be obtained first where the required mass equals;
*

The first and the second masses are easily obtained my measuring them
directly using the weighing machine, the third mass which is the mass
filling the cone is taken as an average of several trials of filling the cone
with sand and then directly weighing the obtained sand.
During digging the hole, vibration of the ground in the area of the sand
jug shall be avoided.

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A H M 531 Field Compaction Test By: Ahmed Essam Mansour

Specifications for the used sand:

The used sand in this test is usually Ottawa sand (Sweileh sand) passing
#20 sieve and retained at #30 sieve. It is preferred to use sand which is
uniform or “one size” sand, with rounded grains.
Uniform sand is preferred to avoid segregation problems, where the
weight of fine sand might be more than it for the same volume of coarse
sand, and a volume the mixture might weigh still more.
Rounded grains are preferred to reduce packing.

After obtaining the dry unit weight of the field soil, a quantity called
relative compaction is obtained by using Formula 7;
*

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The relative compaction is a measure of how close the field compaction is
to the lab computations of the dry density, and if this relative compaction
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was accepted according to the standards specified for the project, the
successive layers in the project can be placed.

Sample identification:

¾ Soil sample containing several grain fractions, with natural


moisture.

Equipments:

• Sand cone apparatus.

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A H M 531 Field Compaction Test By: Ahmed Essam Mansour

• Balloon density apparatus.

• Digging tools.

• Sand of the specified type for the sand


cone test.

• Empty cans for moisture content.

• Proctor’s mold for calibration.

Procedures:
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• The
A hole inCivil
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was dug using the digging tools, and was
cleaned well from fine particles. The base template was well
fixed in the field where the hole will take place, so that no mass
will be lost from the obtained soil of the hole.
The hole was checked to contain no coarse protrusions at the
edges.

• The weight of the obtained soil was measured by using the


weighing device.

• A small portion of the sample was oven dried to measure the


water content in the soil.

Balloon method:

1. The calibration to obtain the correction factor was done, by


placing the balloon apparatus on proctor’s mold and measures
the obtained volume. Then applying Formula 3.

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A H M 531 Field Compaction Test By: Ahmed Essam Mansour

2. The balloon apparatus was placed on its template on a flat


surface and obtain a zero reading.

3. The balloon was then placed on the template and the balloon
was pumped into the hole for a volume measurement. The
final reading was recorded.

Sand cone method:

1. The density of the used sand was measured first where


proctor’s mold was filled with sand and the weight was
recorded for two trials. And then Formula 5 was applied.

2. The weight of sand filling the cone of the apparatus was


obtained by placing the sand cone apparatus on a flat tray and
opening the valve so that the sand pours into the cone till it
stops descending in the jug, which indicated that the cone was
filled. The weight of the collected sand was taken for two
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3. The Civil
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sand cone jug full of sand was obtained.

4. The cone was placed into the groove ring of the template and
the valve of the apparatus was opened to let the sand pour into
the hole.
When the sand stopped descending in the jug, the valve was
closed and then the weight of the sand cone jug after use was
obtained.

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A H M 531 Field Compaction Test By: Ahmed Essam Mansour

Calculations:

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Discussion and results:


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The result obtained from the relative compaction equation indicates that
the soil was badly compacted in the field as it hasn’t attained half of its
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maximum lab density.

Judging whether the balloon method or that the sand cone method is
better is not possible as each has some advantages and disadvantages.

Criteria Balloon method Sand cone method

Testing time Time saver as it offers a It offers indirect measurement of volume.


direct measurement of
volume
Sources of There are many: 1. The sand might be compacted
error 1.As loss of water from because of vibrations in the
the reservoir might apparatus, and that would change
change the zero point. the conditions at which the unit
2.The balloon might density was determined.
rupture if the hole
contains coarse gravel. 2. The sand confined at the valve
3.Some cavities in the opening restrained the valve from
hole might not be closing so some extra loss of the
reachable by the mass of the sand took place.
balloon.
4.Excess pressure of
water in the balloon in
a loose soil might give

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A H M 531 Field Compaction Test By: Ahmed Essam Mansour

a larger volume.
Advantages Time saver. The whole volume of the hole can be
recovered by the sand.
Improvements The balloon method The use of a material desire than sand as
apparatus is better used compaction due to vibration will not affect
with a pressure gauge in its density, I think mercury can be used as
order to know when to it is incompressible fluid and I think it
stop pumping water into can’t pour through the voids in the soil.
the balloon.

Sources of errors:
1. Loss of moisture from the sample due to lately weighing the
specimen.
2. The sand confined at the valve opening restrained the valve from
closing so some extra loss of the mass of the sand took place.

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