Liquid Limit Values by Soil Moisture Tension

by Eugene R. Russell, (M.ASCE), Grad. Res. Instructor; HERPIC, Purdue Univ., Lafayette, IN,
Jack L. Mickle, Assoc. Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Iowa State Univ. and Engrg. Res. Inst., Ames, IA,

Serial Information: Journal of the Soil Mechanics and Foundations Division, 1970, Vol. 96, Issue 3, Pg. 967-989

Document Type: Journal Paper


The feasibility of using soil mositure tension as a practical method of determining consistency limit values is investigated. Samples with known limits determined by standard methods were obtained from the Iowa State Highway Commission. The samples were mostly clays, silty clays, and silty clay loams. A total of 687 liquid limits and 273 plastic limits are determined using varying moisture tensions on pressure plate and pressure membrane apparatus respectively. The effect of textural groups on liquid limit determination is not especially critical; moisture tensions vary between 40 in. and 70 in. of water pressure. A definite relationship between the consistency limits and moisture tension curves is proved using generally accepted theoretical relationships. The moisture tension method is capable of producing a liquid limit value essentially the same as would be obtained by the standard ASTM method, but with better reproducibility. In general, the plastic limit results are not acceptable; however, the method could be used for determining the plastic limits of clays. There is essentially no operator variability with the moisture tension method.

Subject Headings: Clays | Moisture | Tension | Plastics | Water pressure | Soil water | Silt | Ultimate strength

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