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ASTM Standard outlines procedures for density testing.

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June 9, 2009 - Subcommittee D18.03 on Texture, Plasticity, and Density Characteristics of Soils has developed ASTM D7263, Test Methods for Laboratory Determination of Density of Soil Specimens. Wet and dry density of soils are important values for geotechnical engineers in determining over-burden stresses, void ratios, maximum compaction, and percent compaction of soils. Density value can also aid in evaluation of soil strength and sensitivity.

New ASTM Soil and Rock Standard Outlines Procedures for Density Testing

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ASTM International
100 Barr Harbor Dr., Box C700
West Conshohocken, PA, 19428-2959

Press release date: June 3, 2009

W. CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa., 3 June 2009-Wet and dry density of soils are important values for geotechnical engineers in determining over-burden stresses, void ratios, maximum compaction and percent compaction of soils. Density value can also aid in the evaluation of soil strength and sensitivity.

While reporting on soil density has been part of routine laboratory testing for years, there have been no standards that outlined procedures for density testing. However, Subcommittee D18.03 on Texture, Plasticity and Density Characteristics of Soils has now developed such a standard, ASTM D7263, Test Methods for Laboratory Determination of Density (Unit Weight) of Soil Specimens. The subcommittee is part of ASTM International Committee D18 on Soil and Rock.

"The applications of ASTM D7263 span many soil tests, including much more sophisticated testing," says Bill Quinn, laboratory manager, AECOM, and chair of Subcommittee D18.03. Quinn notes the following areas in which soil density testing plays a role:

-Soil density is routinely determined and reported when thin-walled tube samples, which are used to obtain an intact soil specimen with limited disturbance, are taken;
-Strength testing, such as unconfined compression, direct shear and triaxial tests almost always report soil density;
-Soil void ratio, which is important in strength testing, and soil porosity, important with ground water studies, requires the density determination in its calculations;
-Consolidation tests report soil density both before and after the test as a function of the measured soil settlement;
-Hydraulic conductivity tests (flow of water through a soil matrix) are influenced by void ratio and soil density; and
-Density of remolded or reconstituted specimens can serve to evaluate field conditions of back filling operations, embankments, landfill clay liners, etc.

Quinn says that all interested parties are welcome to join in the standards developing activities of D18.03. "This particular standard will require an interlaboratory testing program to enable a precision and bias statement to be developed," says Quinn. "An adequate test program will be established, testing protocols will be outlined, laboratories need to be contacted for participation and the data obtained will need to be summarized."

ASTM International standards are available from Customer Service (phone: 610-832-9585; or at

For technical Information, contact Bill Quinn, AECOM, Vernon Hills, Ill. (phone: 847-279-2500; Committee D18 will meet June 14-17 during the June committee week in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

ASTM International welcomes and encourages participation in the development of its standards. ASTM's open consensus process, using advanced Internet-based standards development tools, ensures worldwide access for all interested individuals. For more information on becoming an ASTM member, please contact Robert Morgan, ASTM International (phone: 610-832-9732;

Established in 1898, ASTM International is one of the largest international standards development and delivery systems in the world. ASTM International meets the World Trade Organization (WTO) principles for the development of international standards: coherence, consensus, development dimension, effectiveness, impartiality, openness, relevance and transparency. ASTM standards are accepted and used in research and development, product testing, quality systems and commercial transactions around the globe.
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