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Book Chapter

9. Laboratory testing

January 01, 2006


9.1. Introduction

This chapter outlines the testing of clays for civil engineering purposes in the laboratory. The laboratory may range from a large permanent establishment to a small temporary facility set up on site. Field tests (or in situ tests), which are carried out on clay while it is still in the ground, are covered in Section 7.6.

Field tests and laboratory tests are not alternative options, but are complementary. Each has its advantages and limitations. Some of the advantages of laboratory tests can be summarized as follows:

  • specific soil properties can be measured;

  • the choice of material for testing can be controlled;

  • control of test conditions can be exercised, and changes in conditions can be simulated;

  • a relatively high degree of accuracy of measurements is possible;

  • parameters can be derived within an acceptable timescale;

  • tests can be performed on undisturbed, re-constituted or remoulded clay.

Data obtained from laboratory tests provide a closer understanding of the properties and behaviour of clays as engineering materials. This can lead to a reduction in uncertainties in the analysis of earthworks; more economic design; construction in difficult conditions which would otherwise not be feasible; and increased economy in the use of clay as a construction material.

The laboratory tests outlined in this document are thosethat are commonly recognized throughout the world as being appropriate for geotechnical purposes. The procedures can be conveniently divided into three categories:

  • classification tests—to establish the type of clay and the engineering category to which it belongs;

  • chemical

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Geological Society, London, Engineering Geology Special Publications

Clay Materials Used in Construction

G. M. Reeves
G. M. Reeves
UHI Millennium Institute, Thurso, UK
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I. Sims
I. Sims
STATS Limited, St Albans, UK
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J. C. Cripps
J. C. Cripps
University of Sheffield, UK
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Geological Society of London
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 2006




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