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Standard penetration testing

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The standard penetration test (SPT) is an in-situ dynamic penetration test designed to provide information on the geotechnical engineering properties of soil. It is one of the oldest and most widely used tests in geotechnical engineering. The test procedure is described in various country testing standards including the Australian Standards. A detailed description of SPT test and procedure can be found in these standards

The test comprise a thin walled sample tube, with an outside diameter of 50 mm and an inside diameter of 35 mm, and a length of around 650 mm. This is driven into the ground at the bottom of a borehole by blows from a slide hammer with a mass of 63.5 kg falling through a distance of 760 mm.

The sample tube is driven 150 mm into the ground and then the number of blows needed for the tube to penetrate each 150 mm up to a depth of 450 mm is recorded. The sum of the number of blows required for the second and third interval of penetration is termed the “standard penetration resistance” or the “N-value”. In cases where 50 blows are insufficient to advance it through a 150 mm interval the penetration after 50 blows is recorded. The blow count provides an indication of the density of the ground, and it is used in many empirical geotechnical engineering formulae and the design of foundations, piles and retaining structures.

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