Use of fall cones to determine Atterberg limits: A review

26 Jan 2018

This paper reviews the percussion-cup liquid limit, thread-rolling plastic limit (PL) and various fall-cone and other approaches employed for consistency limit determinations on fine-grained soil, highlighting their use and misuse for soil classification purposes and in existing correlations. As the PL does not correspond to a unique value of remoulded undrained shear strength, there is no scientific reason why PL measurements obtained using the thread-rolling and shear-strength-based fall-cone or extrusion methods should coincide. Various correlations are established relating liquid limit values deduced using the percussion-cup and fall-cone approaches. The significance of differences in the strain-rate dependency on the mobilised fall-cone shear strength is reviewed. The paper concludes with recommendations on the standardisation of international codes and the wider use of the fall-cone approach for soft to medium-stiff clays in establishing the strength variability with changing water content and further index parameters.