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Aashan et al. Int.

Journal of Engineering Research and Applications
ISSN : 2248-9622, Vol. 4, Issue 12( Part 3), December 2014, pp.49-53
RESEARCH ARTICLE

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OPEN ACCESS

Effects of Soil and Air Drying Methods on Soil Plasticity of
Different Cities of Pakistan
Aashan Ijaz*, Syed Abbas Ali**, Shah Room*, Muhammad Ahmad Rana*,
Muhammad Aleem*
*(Department of Civil Engineering, University of South Asia, Lahore, Pakistan)
** (Department of Civil Engineering, University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan)

ABSTRACT
Atterberg Limits were initially defined in 1911, by Albert Atterberg, a Swedish scientist. Their purposes are to
classifying cohesive soils and determine engineering properties of soils. According to ASTM, all the soils tested
by Atterberg limits should be oven dried, it is because drying the soils in different degree will alter their
properties significantly. Some of the physical properties of soils will undergo changes that appear to be
permanent. Therefore, the soil samples should be in natural or air-dried form. However, in reality, due to time
constraint and other factors, many will run the tests by using soil samples that are prepared by oven drying
method. They assumed that there is no difference between the results of two types of drying method. However,
in reality, the properties of soil will be affected and thus give a misleading result. The objective of this study is to
determine the effect of two drying methods, air-drying method and oven drying method, on the soil plasticity.
Six soil samples from different cities were tested. These tests include sieve analysis, specific gravity test,
hydrometer analysis, Plastic limit and liquid limit test. Conclusively, the oven drying method could not replace
the air-drying method in soil preparation for both Atterberg limits tests.
Keywords - Plasticity, Atterberg Limits, Clay

I. INTRODUCTION
Almost all civil engineering structures are in
contact with soil mass or rock. Either soil in this
case in the undisturbed natural state (in-situ or inplace condition) or artificially placed, for example
under the foundation of structures of the soil, in
general, is in-situ state whereas, the backfill behind
the retaining wall is artificially placed. Similarly,
soil used in the construction structures such as in
dams,
levees, embankments, for roads
and
railways, airfield is artificially placed Irrespective
of the fact whether soil is used as a supporting
material (under foundations) or as constructional
material (in earth structures) in either situations,
there is an interaction between the structures and the
adjacent soil; and as a result stresses develop in both
causing some changes in shape and size of the
structure and of adjacent soil mass.
To design stable and durable structures, an engineer
must therefore, be able to visualize these changes
and forecast their behavior any time. Soil being the
natural product is a very complex engineering
material and to understand its behavior, study of soil
properties is essential. More specifically it is
required for Design of foundations, Stability of
slopes and cuts, Design of earth structures (earth
dams, retaining walls, sheet piles etc.), Design of
roads and airfields At present times, civil engineers
usually depend upon Atterberg limits for the
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indication of soil characteristics, which is Plasticity.
The Atterberg limits are liquid limit, plastic limit
and shrinkage limit, and the tests to determine those
limits are explained in ASTM standards. Method of
drying the soil samples before the tests are carried
out have been clearly stated in ASTM standards, it is
because drying the soils in different degree will alter
their properties significantly. Some of the physical
properties of soil will undergo changes that appear to
be permanent. Soil can dried in two different ways,
by air or by oven drying techniques.
This study is to determine the effect of two drying
methods, air drying method and oven drying method
on the soil plasticity.

II. SAMPLE SELECTION
In this work, our target was to test the clayey
soil. So we could get the definite soil plasticity and
compare the oven dried and air dried sample.
Initially we obtained ten samples from ten different
cities. Sites were selected keeping in mind the clay
content of soil. Field test were performed on these
samples in search of the clayey soil. Out of ten, six
samples from cities, i.e. Lahore, Sialkot, Murree,
Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Nandipur were selected.
Samples varied in clay content from high to low
plastic clay. Several tests were carried out to find the
clay content later. Once the site was selected, sample
was obtained at the depth of 1m from the surface.
Samples were immediately put in zip-lock bags. So
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Aashan et al. Int. Journal of Engineering Research and Applications
ISSN : 2248-9622, Vol. 4, Issue 12( Part 3), December 2014, pp.49-53
that they retained their moisture until ready for the
laboratory testing.

III. FACTORS AFFECTING SOIL
1.

Soil Mineralogy
The properties of a soil are determined by the
mineralogical composition, shape and size
distribution of its component particles, the
interaction of these particles with each other and
with water and dissolved salts, and the effect of
cementing. This paper considers the influence of
clay mineral composition on the plasticity of soils,
and considers cases in which particle size
distribution, particle shape, and cementing have an
effect. Plasticity is the most outstanding
characteristic of clay soils. It is measured by routine
tests on nearly all soils before they are used in an
engineering structure, and gives a good general
indication of their other engineering properties.
The factors which affect the plasticity of soils for the
most part act simultaneously, and it is therefore
difficult to isolate the effect due to the individual
factors. For instance, in addition to natural soils
containing variable amounts of clay size material,
clay generally comprises more than one type of clay
mineral. Furthermore, samples of clay minerals of
the same mineralogical type, but of different origins,
may show considerable variation in physical
properties
2. Soil Texture
Soil texture is one of the most important single
properties of soil. It influences water movement and
retention. It determines the amount of surface area,
affecting chemical reactivity and nutrient-holding
capacity. And texture is a factor in the erosion
potential of the soil. There are twelve soil textural
classes comprised of various proportions of sand,
silt and clay—the three soil separates.
Organic matter is not included as a soil separate and
therefore cannot change the texture of a soil. If the
percentages of sand and clay, with or without silt,
are known, the Textural Triangle can be used to find
the textural class name, for example loam, or sandy
clay. There are two main classes of clay minerals,
described by the ratio of primary building blocks of
tetrahedrons and octahedrons. Each type of clay has
different properties and behaviors. First are the 1:1
clay minerals like kaolinite. A relatively large-sized
clay mineral, kaolinite is a non-expanding clay well
suited to construction activities, septic leach fields,
or ceramics (whether industrial or hobby). The
second type is the 2:1 clay minerals. Many of these
are expanding clays, which shrink when dry, and
swell when wet. These types of clay have very large
surface to volume ratios and have the capacity to
hold large quantities of water and cations.

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3. Soil Aggregates
Generally, only the very small particles form
aggregates, which includes silicate clays, volcanic
ash minerals, organic matter, and oxides. There are
various mechanisms of soil aggregation.
3.1. Mechanisms of soil aggregation:
a) Soil microorganisms excrete substances that act as
cementing agents and bind soil particles together. b)
Fungi have filaments, called hyphae, which extend
into the soil and tie soil particles together. c) Root
also execute sugars into the soil that help bind
minerals. d) Oxides also act a glue and join particles
together. This aggregation process is very common
to many highly weathered tropical soils and is
especially prevalent in Hawaii. e) Finally, soil
particles may naturally be attracted one another
through electrostatic forces, much like the attraction
between hair and a balloon.
Figure 1. Soil Texture

3.2. Aggregate Stability
Stable soil aggregation is a very valuable property of
productive soils. Yet, the stability of soil aggregation
is very reliant on the type of minerals present in the
soil. Certain clay minerals form very stable
aggregates, while other clay minerals form weak
aggregates that fall apart very easily.
Highly weathered silicate clays, oxides, and
amorphous volcanic materials tend to form the most
stable aggregates. The presence of organic matter
with these materials improves stable aggregate
formation. In nutrient management, the aggregate
stability is important because well-aggregated
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Aashan et al. Int. Journal of Engineering Research and Applications
ISSN : 2248-9622, Vol. 4, Issue 12( Part 3), December 2014, pp.49-53
minerals are well drained and quite workable.
In contrast, less weathered silicate clays, such as
montmorillonite, form weak aggregates. Some
silicate clays are said to have a shrink-swell
potential. This means that the soil minerals expand,
or swell, when wet, causing the soil to become
sticky and drain poorly. When dry, these soils shrink
and form cracks. The make-up of the lattice structure
of silicate clays determines the shrink-swell
potential.
4. Organic Matter
Most soil organic matter accumulates within the
surface layer of the soil. This organic matter may be
divided into two groups: non-humic matter and
humic matter. Non-humic matter includes all
undecomposed organic material within the soil.
Examples of non-humic matter are twigs, roots, and
living organisms. Humic matter includes humic
acids, fulvic acids, and humin. (Humin is the dark
material in soil that is highly resistant to
decomposition.) Due to its tremendous surface area,
soil organic matter:
Acts like a sponge to store water. Retains and
provides nutrients (CEC). Glues and binds soil
particles into stable aggregates. Reduces the
occurrence of aluminum toxicities. Like low activity
clays, organic matter may have either CEC or AEC,
depending upon soil ph. However, it will rarely have
AEC. In fact, the pH must fall to approximately 2.0
before it will have AEC. Soil organic matter may
have both AEC and CEC. However, the charges on
organic matter are dependent upon soil ph. For soil
organic matter to generate an AEC, the soil pH must
be 2.0.Without additions of organic matter, tillage
practices will greatly reduce organic matter content
in the soil. Therefore, no-till and minimum tillage
systems with the return of organic matter to the soil
are gaining favor by farmers to improve and
conserve soil quality.

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IV. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
As mentioned earlier, six different samples were
obtained from six different cities. Approximately,
each sample weighed 5 kgs. These samples were
split in two halves for oven and air-drying
respectively. Oven drying procedure in ASTM
D2216-71 was adopted for oven drying of the
sample. Sample was put in the oven at 105° C and
left overnight. For Air Drying, Soil was exposed to
sunlight for whole day and moisture content was
determined. This process was repeated until soil start
giving constant moisture content and soil had no
more moisture to be eliminated.
The main concern of this work was to find the
Atterberg limits. However, other tests like Specific
Gravity, Sieve Analysis, and Hydrometer Analysis
were also carried out. Specific Gravity test helped in
the confirmation of soil type whether it was clay or
not. As Clay was our required material. Further, it
helped later on in better analysis of the results.
Sieve and Hydrometer Analysis were carried out
letter to find out the composition of the soil sample.
Which further elaborated the plastic behavior of
these soils as they contained clay content. In last,
Atterberg limits were determined, which gave the
ultimate idea of plastic behavior. Above tests were
performed on both air and oven dried samples.
Results of the laboratory testing are displayed with
the help of Graphs and are compared.
V. PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS OF
RESULTS
Results are displayed in tabular form a wellrepresented with the help of graphs. Oven dried
samples are compared with air dried samples.
Results of each sample are made in tabular form and
corresponding graphs
are
also
presented.
Comparison graphs of air dried and oven dried
samples of each sample are presented. Results of
various samples are presented in the sequence of
tests performed. For the better understanding and
comparison of results, same graph of different
samples are accumulated in one graph. Further, an
effort is put to make the oven and air dried sample
results are shown in tables.

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Aashan et al. Int. Journal of Engineering Research and Applications
ISSN : 2248-9622, Vol. 4, Issue 12( Part 3), December 2014, pp.49-53

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Table 1. Atterberg's Limits
Oven Dried
Liquid
Plastic
Limit
Limit
(%)
(%)

Plasticity
Index
(%)

Liquid
Limit
(%)

Air Dried
Plastic
Limit
(%)

Plasticity
Index (%)

Samples

Specific
Gravity

Lahore

2.66

26.5

19.36

7.14

30.1

19.44

10.66

Murree

2.72

39.7

23.12

16.58

42.5

23.82

18.97

Sialkot

2.68

35.49

21.27

14.22

36.9

21.47

15.43

Faisalabad

2.68

31.1

22.01

9.09

32.2

22.1

10.1

Rawalpindi

2.72

30.8

20.83

10.07

33.5

21.4

12.1

Nandipur

2.78

58

23.5

34.5

61

24.36

36.64

Fine
Sand

Silt

Clay

Table 2. Sieve and Hydrometer Analysis
Sample

Coarse
Gravel

Medium
Fine Gravel Coarse Sand Sand

Lahore

0

0

0

3%

9%

60%

28%

Murree

0

0

0

1%

8%

50%

41%

Sialkot

0

0

0

1%

6%

56%

37%

Faisalabad

0

0

0

1%

9%

55%

35%

Rawalpindi

0

0

0

1%

7%

58%

34%

Nandi Purr

0

0

0

2.16%

9.84%

45%

43%

Figure 3. A-Line Chart

Figure 3. Gradation Curve

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Aashan et al. Int. Journal of Engineering Research and Applications
ISSN : 2248-9622, Vol. 4, Issue 12( Part 3), December 2014, pp.49-53

Figure 4. Plasticity Index

VI. INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS AND
CONCLUSION
In addition to the other tastings, soil samples
were also classified using unified soil classification
system. Soil classification is shown in Figure 3. All
the sample fell into CL category except Nandipur
sample which came out to be CH. The plastic limit
and liquid limit tests value obtained from two drying
method are different, the liquid limit of oven dried
soil samples are lower than the liquid limit of air
dried samples. Due to the different value of the
plastic limit and liquid limit, the plasticity indexes of
samples determined are different, and thus results in
different subgroups in classification. Plasticity index
as shown in Figure 4 is more for air dried samples as
compared to the oven dried sample. Figure 4 show
that in Lahore, Faisalabad, Murree and Sialkot the
result of soil plasticity obtained using air dry and
oven dry method differ by small amount, so here it
might be the possibility that we can use any of
method. But for Rawalpindi and Nandipur their lies
appreciable difference in results of air dry and oven dry
methods. So here it is proved that the oven drying
method could not be used to replace the air drying
method in preparation work of Atterberg limit tests.
Oven dried sample showed decreased plasticity. The
reason for that is organic matter were burnt during
the overnight drying process in the oven. Moreover,
minerals present in soil were largely affected by the
oven burning.
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