What is a soil compaction test?
Soil compaction happens when soil particles are pressed together, reducing pore space between them. Heavily compacted soils contain few large pores, less total pore volume, and a greater density.
In the construction of high-load structures such as dams, paved roadways, and construction projects that rely on the stability of embankments, soil compaction is used to increase soil strength.
Loose soil can be compacted using mechanical equipment to remove air voids, thereby densifying the soil and increasing its dry unit weight.
There are various benefits to soil compaction, including prevention of soil settlement and frost damage, increased ground stability, reduced hydraulic conductivity and mitigating undesirable settlement of structures, such as paved roads, foundations and piping.
A soil compaction test measures the density of the soil. This data then informs the design of foundations.
Field Tests for Soil Compaction Density
Soil compaction tests are performed on-site and are necessary to determine if the compaction density is being reached.
There are several types of field tests, each with advantages and disadvantages. A popular soil compaction test method is a dynamic cone penetration (DCP test) test.
In DCP testing, the pushing force is applied by manually dropping a single or dual mass weight (called the hammer) from a fixed height onto the push cone unit. The resulting downward movement is then measured. The basic DCP equipment is hand-portable and may be limited to test depths of 3-4 feet: this makes it a good choice for shallow testing applications such as roadbed construction and maintenance.
Since DCP is essentially hand-powered, it is low-cost and more portable. A traditional DCP test can be time-consuming and leaves room for human error. Vertek’s Smart DCP Kit uses a smartphone app and a laser rangefinder to automatically count blows and measure, record, and plot depth.
From the smartphone, this data can be easily graphed in the field and transferred to a computer or client for reporting and analysis.
Automatic data collection saves time, increases accuracy, and means that the test can be efficiently completed by one person. Check out our video below to see how much more efficient the Vertek Smart DCP Kit makes DCP testing.
With Vertek’s Smart DCP Kit, you can quickly gather the data your customer needs, allowing you to complete more jobs. Read Eco Concrete Levelling’s Smart DCP testimonial here.
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FAQ on Compaction Tests
What is the purpose of a soil compaction test?
The test aims to establish the maximum dry density that may be attained for a given soil with a standard amount of compaction effort. When a series of soil samples are compacted at different water content, the plot usually shows a peak.
What is a soil compaction test?
Soil compaction refers to combining all the empty spaces and processes within the soil. Soil compaction occurs when soil particles are pressed together, reducing pore space between them. Heavily compacted soils contain few large pores, less total pore volume, and a greater density. Compacted soil has a reduced rate of both water infiltration and drainage.
What is the best soil for compaction?
Cohesive (clay), granular (sand), and organic (for planting) are the three primary soil groups, but only two of these, cohesive and granular, are suitable for compaction.
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