The plastic limit of clays

Stuart K. Haigh, Paul J Vardanega, Malcolm D. Bolton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

67 Citations (Scopus)
584 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The plastic limit of soils was first described by Atterberg in 1911. The thread-rolling test was standardised at the US Public Roads Bureau in the 1920s and 1930s, and has subsequently become one of the standard tests of soil mechanics. This paper reviews the original definitions of plastic limit as proposed by Atterberg, and proposes that the brittle failure observed in the plastic limit test is caused by either air entry or cavitation in the clay. Critical state soil mechanics is used to show that the observed range of undrained shear strengths of soils at plastic limit is consistent with this hypothesis. The fallacy that strength at plastic limit is a constant is highlighted, and the implications for geotechnical practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-440
Number of pages6
JournalGéotechnique
Volume63
Issue number6
Early online date12 Oct 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013

Keywords

  • clays
  • laboratory tests
  • soil classification
  • suction
  • FALL CONE TEST
  • SHEAR-STRENGTH
  • CONSISTENCY LIMITS
  • WETTING PATHS
  • LIQUID LIMIT
  • SOILS
  • MECHANICS
  • BEHAVIOR
  • WATER

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