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The term consistency is defined as The resistance to the deformation or firmness of

fine-grained soils.

The term is mostly used for the fine grained- soil.

The physical and mechanical behaviour of soil linked to the four distinct states: solid
state ,semi solid state, plastic and liquid.

Consistency Limits of Soils( Atterberg Limits).

Consistency limits may be defined as The moisture content of a soil at the point
where it passes from one stage to the next are called consistency limits.

These limits are as follows.

1. Liquid limit.
2. Plastic limit
3. Shrinkage limit.

Liquid limit:-The boundary water content at which a soil changes from a viscous liquid
to a plastic state is called as liquid limit (LL).

Plastic limit:- The water content at which a soil changes from plastic limit to semi solid
state is known as plastic limit (PL). The range of water contents over which soil
deforms plastically is known as plastic plasticity index (PI). PI=LL-PL.

Shrinkage limit:-The water content at which the soil changes from semi-solid state to a
solid state is called as shrinkage limit (SL).

In each state the consistency and behavior of a soil is different and thus so are its
engineering properties.

The Clay and Silt are those soil that expand and shrink due to moisture content.
Water causes having varying shear strength in Silts and Clay.

These tests are used widely in the preliminary stage of building any structure to ensure
that the soil not too much change in volume as it expands and shrinks with different
moisture content.
Let us consider a soil initially in a liquid state and is allowed to dry uniformly.

If we plot a diagram of volume versus water content as shown in fig

We have changed the state of fine grained soils by changing water content. Since we
engineers are interested in strength and deformation of materials .At one extreme (in the
liquid state) soil has the lowest shear strength and the largest deformation. At the other
extreme (solid state) the soil has largest strength and the lowest deformation . A measure
of soil strength using the Atterberg Limit is known as liquidity index (LI). LI=(w-
PL)/PI where w is the water content.

If LI<0 Semi solid state ( high strength, brittle in nature), if 0<LI<1 Plastic state(
intermediate strength, deformation takes place, if LI>1 liquid state (low strength, soil
deforms like viscous material)

Atterberg, in 1911,found that consistency of fine fine-grained soils greatly influenced by

the amount of water present in the soils.

He observed that if the water content of the soil water suspension is decreased then the
soil water suspension from liquid state to the plastic solid finally to solid state.