Fundamental basis of single-point liquid limit measurement approaches

Stuart K. Haigh*, Paul J Vardanega

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
307 Downloads (Pure)


The liquid limit is defined as the point at which a clay's behaviour changes from liquid to plastic. This transition is in reality gradual, rather than sudden. The definition of when this transition has been crossed must therefore be determined based on some arbitrary criterion. The percussion cup method of determining liquid limit in the manner suggested by Atterberg and subsequently standardised by Casagrande determines liquid limit as the water content at which 25 standard blows are required to cause closure of a standard groove. In order to speed up the determination of the liquid limit, a single-point method is defined in ASTM D4318, and in many other codes, to interpret liquid limit from groove closure at a different number of blows by assuming a relationship
between water content and the number of blows required for groove closure. These methods differ considerably between different codes of practice currently in use worldwide. This paper examines the procedures for single-point determination of the liquid limit and offers some fundamental explanations that underpin the applicability of these procedures. This paper demonstrates that the variation in single-point liquid limit procedures suggested by various codes of practice can be attributed to the variability of liquid limit devices, rather than to variation in the soils being tested.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-14
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Clay Science
Early online date31 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


  • Atterberg limits
  • Clays
  • Consistency limits
  • Laboratory testing


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