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I. Laboratory Test and Report Preparation
2. Determination of Water Content 5
3. Specific Gravity 9
4. Sieve Analysis 15
5. Hydrometer Analysis 23
6. Liquid Limit Test 35
7. Plastic Limit Test 41
B. Shrinkage Limit Test 45
9. Engineering Classification of Soils 51
10 .. Constant Head Permeability Test in Sand 69
II. Falling Head Permeability Test in Sand 75
12. Standard Proctor Compaction Test 81
13. Modified Proctor Compaction Test 89
14. Determination of Field Unit Weight of
Compaction by Sand Cone Method 93
15. Direct Shear Test on Sand 99
16. Unconfined Compression Test 109
17. Consolidation Test I 17
lB. Triaxial Tests in Clay 129
References 145
A. Weight-Volume Relationships· 147
B. Data Sheets for Laboratory Experiments 151
C. Data Sheets for Preparation of Laborat~ry Reports 215


Since the early 1940’s the study of soil mechanics has made great progress all over the world.
A course in soil mechanics is presently required for undergraduate students in most four- year
civil engineering and civil engineering technology programs. It usually includes some
laboratory procedures that are essential in understanding the properties of soils and their
behavior under stress and strain; the present laboratory manual is prepared for classroom use
by undergraduate students taking such a course.
The procedures and equipment described in this manual are fairly common. For a few
tests such as permeability, direct shear, and unconfined compression, the existing equipment
in a given laboratory may differ slightly. In those cases, it is necessary that the instructor
familiarize students with the operation of the equipment. Triaxial test assemblies are costly,
and the equipment varies widely. For that reason, only general outlines for triaxial tests are
For each laboratory test procedure described, sample calculation(s) and graph(s) are
inCluded. Also, blank tables for each test are provided at the end of the manual for student
use in the laboratory and in preparing the final report. The accompanying diskette contains
the Soil Mechanics LaboratoryTest Software, a stand-alone program that students can use
to collect and evaluate the data for each of the 18 labs presented in the book. For this new
edition, Microsoft Excel templates have also been provided for those students who prefer
working with this popular spreadsheet program.
Professor William Neuman of the Department of Civil Engineering at California State
University, Sacramento, took inost of the photographs used in this edition. Thanks are due
to Professor Cyrus Aryarti of the Department of Civil Engineering at Califoruia State
UnIversity, Sacramento, for his assistance in taking the photographs. Last, I would like to
thank my wife, Janice F. Das, who apparently possesses endless energy and enthusiasm. Not·
only did she type the manuscript, she also prepared all of the tables, graphs, and other line