This practice describes a system for classifying mineral and organo-mineral soils for engineering purposes based on laboratory determination of particle-size characteristics, liquid limit, and plasticity index and shall be used when precise classification is required.
NOTE 1—Use of this standard will result in a single classification group symbol and group name except when a soil contains 5 to 12 % fines or when the plot of the liquid limit and plasticity index values falls into the crosshatched area of the plasticity chart. In these two cases, a dual symbol is used, for example, GP-GM, CL-ML. When the laboratory test results indicate that the soil is close to another soil classification group, the borderline condition can be indicated with two symbols separated by a slash. The first symbol should be the one based on this standard, for example, CL/CH, GM/SM, SC/CL. Borderline symbols are particularly useful when the liquid limit value of clayey soils is close to 50. These soils can have expansive characteristics and the use of a borderline symbol (CL/CH, CH/CL) will alert the user of the assigned classifications of expansive potential.
The group symbol portion of this system is based on laboratory tests performed on the portion of a soil sample passing the 3-in. (75-mm) sieve (see Specification E11).
As a classification system, this standard is limited to naturally occurring soils.
NOTE 2—The group names and symbols used in this test method may be used as a descriptive system applied to such materials as shale, claystone, shells, crushed rock, etc. See Appendix X2.
This standard is for qualitative application only.
NOTE 3—When quantitative information is required for detailed designs of important structures, this test method must be supplemented by laboratory tests or other quantitative data to determine performance characteristics under expected field conditions.
This standard is the ASTM version of the Unified Soil Classification System. The basis for the classification scheme is the Airfield Classification System developed by A. Casagrande in the early 1940s.2 It became known as the Unified Soil Classification System when several U.S. Government Agencies adopted a modified version of the Airfield System in 1952.
This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.
This practice offers a set of instructions for performing one or more specific operations. This document cannot replace education or experience and should be used in conjunction with professional judgment. Not all aspects of this practice may be applicable in all circumstances. This ASTM standard is not intended to represent or replace the standard of care by which the adequacy of a given professional service must be judged, nor should this document be applied without consideration of a project's many unique aspects. The word "Standard" in the title of this document means only that the document has been approved through the ASTM consensus process.
2 Casagrande, A., "Classification and Identification of Soils," Transactions, ASCE, 1948 , p. 901.
*A Summary of Changes section appears at the end of this standard.