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Compaction: Compaction occurs when a force compresses the soil and pushes air and water out of it so that

it becomes denser. It is more severe when the soil is wet and less able to withstand compression.

Good soil structure (left) and compacted structure (right)

In terms of geotechnical, compression refers to the application of mechanical energy to a soil to rearrange the particles and reduce the void ratio. It is the process that increases soil

density by compressing the soil particle. Compression will reduce the air volume but little effect to the water volume of the soil Purpose: Reduce subsequent settlement under working loads: 1. Compaction increases the shear strength of the soil 2. Compaction reduces the void ratio making it more difficult for water flow through soil. This is important if the soil is being used to retain water such as would be required for an earth dam 3. Compaction can prevent the buildup of large water pressures that cause soil of liquefy during earthquakes. Factor affecting: 1. Water content of the soil Soil with low moisture content will have particle that easily move past one another during compaction. As the soil compacts, the voids are reduced and dry density increase. (Moisture content increase, dry unit weight also increases). However, as the soil state approaches the zero air void lines, further moisture content increases will result in a reduction in dry unit weight. Here, a maximum dry unit weight is reached and the moisture content at this maximum rate is called the optimum moisture content.

Compression curve 2. The type of soil being compacted Normally, heavy clays, clays and silt offer higher resistance to compaction whereas sandy soils and coarse grained or gravelly soils are responsive for easy

compaction. The coarse-grained soils yield higher densities in comparison to clays. A well-graded soil can be compacted to higher density.

3. The amount of compactive energy used Increased compactive effort enables greater dry unit weights to be achieved and optimum water content will decreased. If moisture content is greater than the optimum, the use of heavier compaction machinery will have only small effect on increasing the dry unit weights. So, it is important to have good control over moisture content during compaction of soil layers in the field.

Relation between dry density and moisture content Compression curve Dry density, d = Where; b = Bulk density w = moisture content Hence, to determine the soil compression, bulk density and moisture content must be known. Dry density will be plot against moisture content to get the compression curve. Based on the curve, optimum moisture content and maximum dry density can be determined.

Saturation line (zero air void) Represent the dry density where all the air has been removed so that the soil sample become fully saturated (water + solid only). However, it is impossible to achieve since soil will have 5 10 % of air void even after compaction. Formula to draw saturation line: d = where; Gs = Specific gravity w = water density d = dry density Ar = Air void W = water content

Saturation line

Compression curve

Example 1 A standard proctor compression test has been run on a sample of sandy clay soil, and the results are: Bulk density (kg / m3) Water content (%) 2060 2127 12 14 2154 2160 2142 16 18 20

a) Draw the dry density against water content curve and find the maximum dry density and optimum water content. b) Find the water content needed for saturation at maximum dry density if Gs = 2.7 c) Draw the saturation line (zero air void) and saturation line (air void = 5%)