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Unit weight of typical soils

Unit weight of typical soils

Unit weight of typical soils

I'm looking for average unit weights (guidelines) for typical soils.

i.e. saturated and unsaturated unit weight of sand, silt, clay

RE: Unit weight of typical soils

If the Geotech doesn't tell me, I use 120 pcf - fairly conservative for non-gravel soils.

However, the unit weights are all over the spectrum so an actual insitu test is best.

RE: Unit weight of typical soils

I have dense compacted saturated sand.  I need an conservative estimate of weight.  I believe 22kN/m^3 should be conservative.  Any conflicting thoughts?

RE: Unit weight of typical soils

22 is conservative.  I think 20 kN/m^3 is conservative enough.  I normally use 19.

RE: Unit weight of typical soils

Speak English!

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Unit weight of typical soils

One thing you need to consider is using bounyant unit weight if you are dealing with a saturated sand, and depending on what type of analysis you are doing.  One example of when you need to use a bouyant weight is if you are calculating vertical stress on a footings in sand under water (like for a bridge abutment)in order to calculate base friction.

A reasonable bouyant unit weight for sand is 70 pcf.

RE: Unit weight of typical soils

Mineral Sand Ore and Ilmenite can weigh up to 2.7t/cu.m Just some food for thought.  

When in doubt, just take the next small step.

RE: Unit weight of typical soils

Msquared48 - they are!  I think you want "American"!! 10 kPa about 60 pcf (within about 3%).  I hate it when they start using kg/m3 instead of kN/m3 for unit weights . . .

RE: Unit weight of typical soils

I always rememebered it as 28 dynes/tablespoon...



If you "heard" it on the internet, it's guilty until proven innocent. - DCS


RE: Unit weight of typical soils


C a n   I   t a l k   s l o w l y,  t o o?


RE: Unit weight of typical soils

thanks rowing eng.  That is helpful

RE: Unit weight of typical soils

I think most soils range in the 100 pcf to 120 pcf range.  This isn't too much less than concrete which is typically 150 pcf.

RE: Unit weight of typical soils

Saturated = adding water pressure or weight too, no?
Wouldn't drainage be a good idea?

RE: Unit weight of typical soils

Expand Bagman's range a bit: Total unit weight can be 90 (aeolian silt with low water content) to 135 pcf (saturated compacted broadly graded fill).

How can you talk about "conservative" unit weights without stating the application?  If it's active pressure on a retaining wall, higher is more conservative.  If it's for footing bearing capacity, lower is more conservative.

RE: Unit weight of typical soils

All you metric guys are confusing the heck out of me. Unit weight is mass/unit volume, or kg/m^3. A newton is a measure of force, not mass. What's up?

RE: Unit weight of typical soils

Strictly speaking, unit weight has units of force/(length^3).  Therefore, lb/ft^3 or, kN/m^3.  Unit mass would be kg/m^3 or slugs/ft^3.  Calculation of static forces and stresses is often easier with unit weight, since you don't need to multiply by 32.2 or 9.81.

Mention slugs to anyone, even U.S. engineers, and you are bound to get a bunch of blank looks.  Slugs/ft^3 is most likely to be interpreted as how many slimy little creatures are in the garden.

RE: Unit weight of typical soils

For SI stuff... density is usually defined as mass / cu (whatever), and the correct reference for soil in this application should be kg/m^3. It is often shown in reports (possibly incorrectly) as kN/m^3 with the idea that the weight of soil is a force and not a mass.

The Imperial confusion steps in when people use pounds (force) synonomously with pounds (mass). Dgillette is correct when he refers to Imperial mass as 'slugs' This is pounds (force) divided by g (32.2 approx) to convert it to a mass.


RE: Unit weight of typical soils

Range in natural soils in my experience, 78 pcf to 147 pcf, with the majority under 110 pcf.

RE: Unit weight of typical soils

147?  Wow!  What was it?

RE: Unit weight of typical soils

Taconite tailings, (Minnesota) and basaltic rock, (Niagra Falls, Ontario).

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