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Understanding soil consolidation testing

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article image A commercial soil compaction testing system
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Soil consolidation testing is conducted to predict the safe load-bearing capacity of any soil type prior to building. For instance, even before construction begins on large buildings, the foundation soil is tested for compaction. Based on the results of these tests, developers can proceed confidently with heavier and taller buildings.

To test soil for unsuitable compaction, several samples are tested in a soil analysis laboratory. The testing process simulates the conditions of load and water pore pressure in the soil and then measures the amount of soil compacted, or compressed under the load.

A static load is applied to a piston that transmits the force to the soil sample contained within the test cell. Water is introduced and maintained at the pressure expected for the construction site. This pressure is sensed and controlled by a pressure transducer. The force of the load is sensed by a series of strain gauge load cells and the movement of the sample during compaction is measured by an LVDT.

A compaction test may take a few hours or several days, depending on the soil conditions and applied load. The primary objective of the test is to verify that the soil will be strong enough to bear the weight of the building to be built on that particular site.

In a commercial soil compaction testing system, a servo-controller is used to apply a continuous load to the sample instead of heavy weights. The load cell just beneath the top platen measures the actual force applied and a spring-loaded LVDT measures the change in thickness of the soil sample as it consolidates.

Validyne pressure transducers available from Bestech Australia are used to measure pore pressure while USB2250 signal conditioning can be used as the data acquisition interface to record pressure, the force sensed by the load cell and the sample displacement from the LVDT signals.

The USB2250 can accept all three sensor types directly, including other sensors such as themocouples and DC voltages. The variety of sensor types used in soil compaction testing including load cells, LVDTs and pressure transducers make the USB2250 an ideal sensor interface.

Bestech will work with customers to integrate the USB2250 into existing soil test software.

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