Liquid Limit Test of Soil As Per IS:2720 Part-5

Civil Engicon Team
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Update: May 30, 2024
Liquid limit test is a procedure in geotechnical engineering, providing essential data for soil classification, foundation design, slope stability analysis, and various other applications. It helps engineers understand soil behavior, assess engineering properties, and ensure the stability and safety of construction projects.

What is the Liquid Limit Test?

The liquid limit test determines the moisture content at which soil changes from a liquid state to a plastic state. This test is a key parameter in soil mechanics and geotechnical engineering, providing insights into the soil's consistency, behavior, and properties under varying moisture conditions. It is performed using the Casagrande apparatus, which measures the number of blows required to close a standard groove in the soil sample when subjected to a specific mechanical action.

Why is the Liquid Limit Test Performed?

Consistency Measurement: The test measures the soil's consistency limits, providing a quantitative value for the moisture content at which soil transitions from a plastic state to a liquid state. This information is critical for understanding soil behavior under different moisture conditions.
Engineering Properties Assessment: By determining the liquid limit, engineers can assess the soil's shear strength, compressibility, and potential for expansion or shrinkage. This data is essential for designing safe and stable structures.
Soil Behavior Prediction: The liquid limit helps predict how soil will behave under varying environmental conditions, such as heavy rainfall or changes in groundwater levels. This prediction is vital for planning and managing construction projects.
Quality Control: In construction projects, the liquid limit test is used for quality control purposes to ensure that the soil used meets the specified engineering requirements and standards.

Applications of the Liquid Limit Test

Soil Classification: The liquid limit is a fundamental parameter used in soil classification systems such as the Unified Soil Classification System (USCS) IS Soil Classification System, and the AASHTO Soil Classification System. It helps in identifying and categorizing soils based on their consistency and plasticity characteristics.
Foundation Design: Engineers use the liquid limit to assess the suitability of soil for supporting structures. Soils with high liquid limits may indicate expansive or unstable conditions, which can impact foundation stability.
Slope Stability Analysis: The liquid limit provides information about the soil's behavior under wet conditions, which is crucial for analyzing and predicting slope stability and potential landslides.
Earthwork and Embankment Design: The test helps determine the optimal moisture content for compacting soil in construction projects, ensuring the stability and integrity of embankments, dams, and other earth structures.
Dredging and Reclamation Projects: In projects involving dredging or land reclamation, the liquid limit test helps evaluate the properties of dredged materials or reclaimed soils to ensure their suitability for use in construction.

Liquid Limit Test of Soil- IS:2720 Part-5

The liquid limit of soil is the moisture content at which cohesive soil transitions from a liquid state to a plastic state. Conversely, the plastic limit is the moisture content at which the soil changes from a plastic state to a semisolid state.

Liquid Limit Test of Soil- IS:2720 Part-5

Determination of Liquid Limit Test of Soil Procedure

Objective of the Test
This test aims to determine the liquid limit of soil as per IS: 2720 (Part 5) – 1985. The liquid limit of fine-grained soil is the water content at which the soil behaves almost like a liquid but has a small shear strength. This is identified when the groove in the soil sample, with a width of 12.7 mm, closes after 25 blows in the Casagrande liquid limit device.

Apparatus Used
The following apparatus are used:
  • Casagrande liquid limit device
  • Grooving tools (standard and ASTM types)
  • Oven
  • Evaporating dish
  • Spatula
  • IS Sieve (425 µm)
  • Weighing balance (accuracy of 0.01 g or 1 g)
  • Wash bottle
  • Air-tight container for moisture content determination

Preparation of the Sample
  • Dry the soil sample and break any clods using a wooden hammer. Remove any organic matter such as roots and bark.
  • Take about 120 g of the soil specimen passing through a 425 micron IS sieve. Mix it thoroughly with distilled water in an evaporating dish and leave it for 24 hours to soak.

Test Procedure as Per IS Code
  • Place a portion of the soil paste into the cup of the liquid limit device.
  • Level the soil paste to a maximum depth of 1 cm.
  • Use the appropriate grooving tool to draw a groove along the symmetrical axis of the cup. Hold the tool perpendicular to the cup.
For Normal Fine-Grained Soil: Use the Casagrande tool to cut a groove 2 mm wide at the bottom, 11 mm wide at the top, and 8 mm deep.
For Sandy Soil: Use the ASTM tool to cut a groove 2 mm wide at the bottom, 13.6 mm wide at the top, and 10 mm deep.
  • Rotate the handle of the device at approximately 2 revolutions per second and count the number of blows until the two parts of the sample come into contact along a 10 mm length.
  • Take about 10 g of soil near the closed groove as a sample for determining its water content.
  • Transfer the soil from the cup into the dish containing the soil paste and mix thoroughly, adding water as necessary. Repeat the test as before.
  • Change the water content of the soil and repeat the operations to obtain at least five readings between 15 and 35 blows. Avoid mixing dry soil to change its consistency.
  • Determine the liquid limit by plotting a ‘flow curve’ on a semi-log graph, with the number of blows on the X-axis (log scale) and the water content on the Y-axis. Draw the best possible straight line through the plotted points.

Reporting of test Results
Report the water content corresponding to 25 blows by reading from the flow curve as the liquid limit. A sample flow curve is provided below for reference.

Liquid Limit Test of Soil As Per IS:2720 Part-5

Liquid Limit Calculator

Liquid Limit Calculator

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