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By Malcolm Bolton (auth.)

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The specific gravity of the soil particles is important because Earth's gravity is the only agency which creates stress in ordinary soil construction: if all other parameters remain constant, the lateral pressure of earth against a retaining wall is simply proportional to the density of the soil grains. The hardness of a soil grain is allied to its crushing strength and is an important determinant of its likely size, the soil grain having been jostled and scratched by its neighbours for millions of years.

Just as with the sieve method, the shape of the particles affects the results somewhat, but not so much as to invalidate the method. The remaining descriptions of shape and roughness are best made after examination of the soil under a microscope or magnifying glass. The standard routines for soil size analysis and description appear in BS 13 77. The first piece of information that the engineer abstracts from a grading curve is the proportion of silts and clays. Fine-grained soils have very small pores: this, above all else, makes a clay look and behave in a peculiar way.

50. If the soil is perfectly dry, and the voids are full of air, then the density of the soil is 2700 x 1/(1 + 05) or 1800 kg/m 3 . 5) or 2130 kg/m 3 . 5 cannot escape beyond the bounds 18 to 21 kN/m 3 . I shall very often assume that the unit weight of soil is 20 kN/m 3 , saturated or not. I hope you will appreciate the advantages and dangers of this step. By proclaiming that water weighs 10 kN/m 3 and that soil usually weighs 20 kN/m 3 we leave ourselves unencumbered to deal with the enormously complicated issue of water pressure.

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