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Janiola, Joyzelle Ann C.

July 27, 2014

Group 3

Activity No. 4
Unit Weight Determination

Undisturbed samples are generally taken by cutting blocks of soil, or by pushing
or driving tubes into the ground. Undisturbed soil samples retain the structural integrity of
the in-situ soil and have a high recovery rate within the sampler (Barnhart, 2014). Also,
undisturbed soil samples allow an engineer to determine the geotechnical properties of
strength, permeability, compressibility and fracture patterns among others (Geotechnical
Engineering Software, 2013).
Soil unit weight, also known as specific weight, is the weight per unit volume of
soil. It may refer to wet unit weight or dry unit weight. Wet unit weight is the unit weight of
the soil when the pores are fully or partially filled with water. While dry unit weight is the
unit weight of the soil when the pores are filled only with air without any water.
Moreover, soil unit weight, depends on the packing, compaction, and humidity
condition of the soil.
The main objective of the activity is to determine the in-place unit weight of the
undisturbed soil sample obtained by pushing or drilling a thin-walled cylinder.
Knowledge of the in place unit weight of undisturbed soil sample can help assess
in field quality control processes whether an earth or rock fill has been compacted to the
specified unit weight. Unit weight determination of undisturbed soil sample is also
conducted in making comparisons and calculations related to volume and weight
relationships such as void ratio or degree of saturation. For design purposes, unit weight
determination is done to provide the necessary information in calculating soil loads or
stresses within a soil mass or exerted by a soil mass. Another important reason to
determine the unit weight of the soil is to assist in the control and management of the
borrow area by providing information for calculating volume differences between
excavated volume and the volume of the compacted fill areas.

Materials and Methodology
A. Materials Used
A rubber stopper, wooden rod, steel supports and the universal testing machine
(UTM) was used to extract the undisturbed soil sample from the core sampler. A cutting
wire (guitar string no.1) was then used to even out the base. A straight edge was also
used to measure the dimensions of the sample. Lastly, an electronic balance was used
to weigh the sample.

B. Preparation of soil samples
The undisturbed soil samples are taken out of the storage box and was prepared
for extraction (see Figure 1). The crumbly particles of the undisturbed sample was
removed. Then a rubber stopper was pushed into the core sampler. The core sampler
was then suspended, wherein its welded sides rests into the steel supports. A wooden
rod was then fitted into the core sampler. The core sampler was then held tightly to
prevent wobbling. The universal testing machine (UTM) was then used to push the
undisturbed soil sample from the core sampler (see Figure 2). The undisturbed soil
sample was then seized before it falls to the base of the universal testing machine (UTM)
to avoid disturbances. The samples were then wrapped with a cling wrap. The base of
the soil sample was then evened out using a cutting wire (see Figure 3).
C. Determination of the unit weight
The height and the diameter of the undisturbed soil sample were measured using
a straight edge (see Figure 4 and 5). The soil sample was then weighed and the tare
weight was recorded (see Figure 7). The volume, density and unit weight of the
undisturbed soil sample were then computed.

Formula for volume:

Vcylinder = h

Formula for density:
Formula for unit weight:
= g , where g is equal to 9.81 m/s


Table 1. Soil sample characteristics after extraction
Characteristics after extraction
1 It cracked and broke into two parts.
2 Side surfaces are smooth.
No presence of cracks.

3 Uneven surface and has cracks.

Table 2. Soil sample 2
Diameter 6 cm
height 5 cm
mass 244 g
volume 141.372 cm

density 1.725 g/cm

Table 1 shows the characteristics of the soil samples after extraction. The first soil
sample obtained cracks and broke into two parts. The second sample has smooth side
surface and does not have cracks. The third sample has jagged surface and cracks. Out
of the three samples, only the second sample can be utilized for the activity.
Table 2 shows the dimensions, mass, volume and density of the acceptable soil
sample. Its dimensions are .06 meter for its diameter and .05 meter high and it has a
mass of 244 g. The volume and density of the sample were computed using the formula
mentioned above. The undisturbed sample has a volume of 141.372 cm
and a density
of 1.725 g/cm
Unit weight computation of the undisturbed soil sample.
= g , where g is equal to 9.81 m/s

= 1725 9.81= 16922.25 N/m

The in-place unit weight of the undisturbed soil sample is determined to be
16922.25 N/m
or 16.922 kN/m

g 1 kg 100 cm

= 1.725 = 1725 kg/m

1000g 1m
ASTM. 2011. Standard Test Procedures for Determining Density or Unit Weight of Soil
in Place . [On-line] accessed on July 25, 2014 available at
Barnhart, H. 2014. Disturbed Vs. Undisturbed Soil Sampling. [On-line] accessed on Jly
25, 2014 available at
Das, B.M. 2006. Principles of Geotechnical Engineering: Fifth Edition. Thomson Canada
Limited, Nelson 1120 Birchmount Road Toronto, Ontario M1K 5G4 Canada.
Geotechnical Engineering Software.2013.Geotechnical Engineering: The Difference Of
Disturbed And Undisturbed Soil Sampling. [On-line] accessed on July 25, 2014
available at

Wikipedia. nd. Specific Weight. [On-line] accessed on July 25, 2014 available at

FIGURE 1. Undisturbed soil samples.

FIGURE 2. Extraction of the sample.

FIGURE 3. Cutting the sample.

FIGURE 4. Measuring the diameter of the sample

FIGURE 5. Measuring the height of the sample.

FIGURE 6. Weighing the newspaper.

FIGURE 7. Weighing the sample