By Malcolm Bolton (auth.)
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Extra info for A Guide to Soil Mechanics
3) Line AB must be an equipotential since standpipes arranged along it would all contain water to the same head, in fact to the level of AB itself. (4) Line DE is similarly an equipotential whose head happens to coincide with itself. (5) Line DE has been taken as datum, above which all excess heads will be measured. AB, then, is the 6 m equipotential. ( 6) Three flow channels were decided on, and sketched in, starting from the quite uniform EDC region. (7) Starting at ED, equipotentials were sketched in so as to form squares, remembering that boundaries DC, EF and FG were flowlines.
8. Large grains are likely to be strong, and indeed likely to be quartz. Smaller grains are likely to be weaker. Clays, made up of grains so small that an optical microscope cannot fully resolve them, are particularly soft and spongy. All soils possess friction, but clays are less frictional than quartz sands. Much is made, in some textbooks, of special inter-particle forces that are said to exist between clay particles in close proximity. Authors point out that if clay flakes are only 20 atoms thick, more than I 0 per cent of atoms within a block of clay soil would be on the surface of a particle.
2. The value of the tests lies in the fact that they are rough strength indicators: the shear strength of a soil at its plastic limit may be roughly 200 kN/m 2 , but only 2 kN/m 2 at its liquid limit. The plasticity index, therefore, is the increment of water necessary to reduce the strength of a soil roughly a hundredfold. It can be shown that the reverse argument also applies. If the stress on a saturated soil is increased under a foundation, for example, then the ensuing compression, which drives water out of the soil and causes the foundation to sink, is proportional in magnitude to the plasticity index of the soil.