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In-situ density of soil is an important parameter for soil engineers. This is needed for
determination of bearing capacity of soils, stability analysis, and natural slopes and for
determining degree of compaction of fills.

Density is used in calculating the stress in the stress in the soil due to its overburden
pressure. It is needed in estimating the bearing capacity of soil foundation system, settlement
of footings, earth pressures behind the retaining walls, dams, embankments. Stability of natural
slopes, dams, embankments and cutis checked with the help of deity of these soils. It is the
density of controls the field of soils. Permeability of soils depends upon its density. Relative
density of cohesion less soils is determined by knowing by knowing the dry density of that soil
in natural, loosest and densest states. Void ratio, porosity and degree of saturation need the help
of density of soils.

This method consists of driving a core cutter of known volume into the soil after placing
it on a cleaned surface. The cutter filled with soil is removed and excess soil trimmed off. The
cutter with soil is weighed which is divided by volume of cutter and hence the in-situ unit
weight is determined. The core cutter is dug out, trimmed and the soil inside, weighed and dried
for moisture and density determination.


To determine in-situ density of fine-grained natural or compacted soils free from

aggregate using a core cutter


At the end of this experiment, students are able to:

Perform the field density test using core cutter method

Determine the density of the compacted soil

Core cutter method is used for finding field density of cohesive/clayey soils placed as
fill. It is rapid method conducted on field. It cannot be applied to coarse grained soil as the
penetration of core cutter becomes difficult due to increased resistance at the tip of core cutter
leading to damage to core cutter.


1) Cylindrical core cutter seamless steep tube, 130mm long 10 cm internal diameter with
wall thickness of 3mm, bevelled at one end; giving a volume of 10003 .

2) Steel dolly, 2.5cm high and 10cm internal diameter with wall thickness of 7.5mm
with a lip to enable it to be fitted on top the core-cutter.
3) Steel rammer with solid mild steel foot 14cm diameter and 7.5cm height with a
concentrically screwed 2.5cm diameter solid mild steel staff.

4) Balance

5) Palette knife having balde approx. 20cm long and 3cm wide.

6) Steel rule
7) Container for determination of water content.

8) Soil sample= Fine grained soil where 90% of soil passes through 4.75mm I.S Sieve.


1) The internal volume of core cutter is calculated.

2) The core cutter should be weighed to the nearest gram (1 ).
3) The oil is applied on inner surface of core cutter.
4) The core is placed on a freshly prepared plain ground with dolly on it; and gently
hammer it so that the cutter will get pushed in the soil completely.
5) The side material is removed and taken out from the field of core cutter gently and
properly trim the top and bottom surface and weight it.
6) The soil core will be removed from the cutter and a representative sample will be
placed in an air tight container to determine water content.

a) Determination of bulk and dry density of soil

1 Mass of empty core cutter (1 ) kg 0.973

2 Mass of core cutter + wet soil kg 2.923

(2 )
3 Mass of wet soil (2 1 ) kg 1.950

4 Volume of core cutter (V) 3 10

5 Bulk density, 3 0.195

2 1

6 Dry density of soil 3 0.154


b) Determination of water content of soil

1 Mass of empty container wit lid kg 0.019

(1 )
2 Mass of container with lid and kg 0.177
wet soil (2 )
3 Mass of container with lid and kg 0.144
dry soil (3 )
4 Water content, % 26.4

= = 2 3 100
3 1

a) Determination of bulk and dry density of soil.

a. Mass of empty core-cutter (1 ) = 0.973 kg

b. Mass of core - cutter + wet soil (2 ) = 2.923 kg
c. Mass of wet soil (2 -1 ) = 2911 - 930 = 1.950 kg
d. Volume of core cutter (V) = 10 3
e. Bulk density
2 1

2.923 0.973

= 0.195 3
f. Dry density of soil

1 + 0.264

= 0.154 3

b) Determination of water content of soil

a. Mass of empty container with lid (1 ) = 0.019 kg

b. Mass of container with lid and wet (2 ) = 0.177 kg
c. Mass of container with lid and dry soil(3 ) = 0.144 kg
2 3
d. Water content, = = 100
3 1

0.177 0.144
= 100
0.144 0.019

= 26.4 %

Core cutter method is used for finding field density of cohesive or clayey soils placed as fill.
The result of this experiment, that bulk density, dry density and water content it is shown that
the soils is cohesive and clayey soils. From the experiment, the result that we got are:

Core Cutter Method

Bulk density of soil, 3 0.195
Dry density of soil, 3 0.154


In conclusion, the relationship between compaction effort and the density of soil are the
compaction is a process of increasing soil density and removing air. The size of the individual
soil particles does not change, neither is water removed. There is usually no change in water

The degree of compaction is measured by dry unit weight and depends on the water
content and compactive effort. The factors will affect the compaction and density are nature
and type of soil such as sand, clay, grading or plasticity; water content at the time of
compaction, site conditions include with weather, type of site, layer thickness; and compactive
effort. The other two methods that can be used are sand replacement method and water
displacement method. Each method is selected based on the type of soil to be tested, as well as
the limitation or restriction that may be present in the soil sample to be tested.

The method is not suitable for dry sand as the same cannot be retained in the cutter
while lifting, besides the compaction induced by the vibration generated by the weight falling
on the dolly, which affects the natural density.