Economic sampling and extraction of undisturbed, high quality samples in normally consolidated lacustrine clays using a large diameter tube

S. Messerklinger, S.M. Springman

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3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes the development, design and use of a large diameter sampling tube. High quality test specimens are essential for the investigation of mechanical properties of a soil for high risk projects and when complex and expensive testing methods are to be used. Block sampling is recommended to give the highest sample quality for clayey soils, however, extracting blocks of normally consolidated lacustrine silty clay without excessive disturbance was challenging due to the inherent structure of the soft varved silty clay and difficulty in maintaining K o conditions, as well as no vertical strain, in the sample. A new sample tube, with an inner diameter of 196 mm, an area ratio of 4% and an outer cutting-edge angle of 11° was designed to offer a larger cross sectional area than conventional thin walled sampling tubes, to provide the necessary side support and to prevent water ingress at the sides of the sample. The length-diameter aspect ratio was 1.275 to optimise the amount of clay sampled for subsequent testing and in an attempt to minimize the pressure in front of the tube. Samples were taken in initially newly excavated trenches at a depth of c. 1 m with this new sampler and with conventionally sampled soil specimens, prior to the main testing programme with samples from 6 m depth. A comparative study was then performed including preliminary unconsolidated unconfined compression tests followed by anisotropically consolidated undrained triaxial compression tests. It was important to establish whether this approach had led to an improvement in sample quality prior to embarking on an extensive triaxial stress path testing programme on this varved soil (Messerklinger, Non-linearity and small strain behaviour in lacustrine clay, 2006; Messerklinger and Springman, Geotech Test J 30(6), 2007; Messerklinger and Springman, Geotech Geol J, 2008). The results showed that the undrained shear strength of the specimens from the new sampler was consistently around 20% higher than that of specimens extruded from conventional thin walled tube samplers. This confirmed that samples with a significantly higher quality could be extracted from normally consolidated, fine grained, varved lacustrine deposits with this large diameter 'block' sampling tube.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-215
Number of pages9
JournalGeotechnical and Geological Engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Block sampling techniques
  • High quality test sample
  • Varved lacustrine clay


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