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Sunday, April 22, 2012

laboratory test on expansive soils- Swell Test



The most important laboratory test on expansive soils is the swell test. The standard one-dimensional consolidation test apparatus can be used. A standard consolidometer can accommodate a remolded or undisturbed sample from 2 to 4.25 in. diameter and from 0.75 to 1.25 in. thickness. Porous stones are provided at each end of the specimen for drainage or saturation. The assembly is placed on the platform scale table and the load is applied by a yoke actuated by a screw jack. The load imposed on the sample is measured by the scale beam, and a dial gage is provided to measure the vertical movement.


The advantage of such arrangement is that it is possible to hold the upper loading bar at a constant volume and allow the measurement of the maximum uplift pressure of the soil without a volume change. This requires a constant load adjustment by an operator. An advanced scheme is an automatic load increment device that measures swelling pressure without allowing volume change to take place.

The consolidometer can also be used to measure the amount of expansion under various loading conditions. Since swelling pressure can be evaluated by loading the swelled sample to its original volume, it is simple to convert the platform-scale consolidometer into a single-lever consolidation apparatus. Such a modified con- solidometer can be made locally at low cost. The average soil laboratory should have a train of such apparatuses to speed up the testing procedure.

It is important for the geotechnical engineer not to confuse “swell” with “rebound.” All clays will rebound upon load removal, but not all clays possess swelling potential. The use of graduated cylinders to measure the swelling potential of clay upon saturation is not a standard test. Such a test has been abandoned and should not be repeated.

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