ASTM D698-12 Laboratory Compaction Characteristics of Soil

The standard test methods for compaction characteristics of soil using standard effort are covered under ASTM D698-12. L aboratory compaction tests provide the basis for determining the per cent compaction and moulding water content needed to achieve the required engineering properties (shear strength, compressibility, permeability, etc.), and for controlling construction to assure that the required compaction and water contents are achieved.... Read More

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    ASTM D698-12 standard test method defines procedures for compaction tests to be performed on soil or material. The methods help determine the relationship between moulding water content and dry unit weight of soils or material, known as compaction curve. Soils (materials) having 30% or less mass retained on 19.0 mm sieve qualify to be tested by the methods covered in ASTM D698-12. Their different methods are Method A, B or C.

     Test Procedure:

    The soil sample at a selected moulding water content is placed in three layers into a mould of given dimensions, with each layer compacted by 25 or 56 blows of a 5.50 lbf (24.47-N) rammer dropped from 12.00 inch (304.8 mm), subjecting the soil to a total compactive effort of about 12 400 ft lbf/ ft3 (600 kN-m/m3). The resulting dry unit weight is determined. The procedure is repeated for enough moulding water contents to establish a relationship between the dry unit weight and the moulding water content for the soil. This data, when plotted, represents a curvilinear relationship known as the compaction curve. The values of optimum water content and standard maximum dry unit weight are determined from the compaction curve.

    Specimen size:

    The minimum specimen (for testing) mass for Methods A and B is about 16 kg, and for Method C is about 29 kg of dry soil.


    Moist Density is calculated as follows:


    ρm = moist density of compacted sub specimen (compaction point), four significant digits, g/cm3 or kg/m3,

    Mt = mass of moist soil in mold and mold, nearest g,

    Mmd = mass of compaction mold, nearest g,

    V = volume of compaction mold, cm3 or m3

    The equation used to calculate dry density is:


    ρd = dry density of compaction point, four significant digits,

    g/cm3 or kg/m3, and

    w = molding water content of compaction point, nearest


    ASTM D698-10 describes the test method for determining the compaction characteristics of the soil. Soil is placed as engineering fill (embankments, foundation pads, road bases) is compacted to a dense state to obtain satisfactory engineering properties such as shear strength, compressibility, or permeability. This standard helps evaluate these properties.


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