Dynamic Cone Penetration Test for Liquefaction Evaluation of Grevelly Soils

Project ID: 7102
Principal Investigator: Mike Talbot
Research Topic: Condition Assessment
Funded Fiscal Years: 2017
Keywords: None

Research Question

Reclamations dam safety program is often involved with evaluating the seismic stability of dams and other appurtenant structures. Liquefaction evaluation of soils uses penetration testing of soils to determine liquefaction potential. In the western United States we have many structures founded on gravelly soils for which traditional penetration testing is not reliable due to large particle interference. Historically, for gravelly soils, Becker Penetration Tests (BPT) have been used which require outside contracting of large specialty drilling rigs which Reclamation does not own, and are very hard to come by.
Recently researchers in China have developed a new heavy dynamic cone penetrometer test (DCPT) and begun correlating tests to actual liquefaction occurrence in gravelly soils. The DCPT test is simple to perform with standard drilling equipment.
We have determined that several more DCPT soundings would benefit our knowledge base greatly and help us determine how the DCPT tests correlate with the BPT tests, and bring us closer to a determination that dynamic cone penetration tests are reliable as an indicator of liquefaction potential. This information could possibly save

Need and Benefit

Need: Benefits of this research would include all of Reclamation and indeed the entire geotechnical industry world-wide. Due to the highly specialized nature of the Becker hammer drill rig, Reclamation does not own any and must contract for one when needed. Outside availability is highly limited due to the fact that there are only a few Becker rigs in the US and the wait is sometimes years.
Benefit: Adoption of the DCPT test for liquefaction analysis would greatly enhance the the ability of Reclamation to characterize a site as potentially liquefiable in a cost effective manner by accomplishing the task faster and cheaper than the Becker hammer test. DCPT correlation to the BPT have never been done and therefore would garner world-wide attention. Much time and expense could be saved by employing the DCPT test as an alternative to the BPT test. Saving of tens of thousands of to millions dollars could be realized on BOR projects. B/C ratios could be wide open, from 1.5 to 5.0, potentially.
Urgency: If this research is not funded the ongoing effort to correlate DCPT tests with BPT tests will take a set-back in time to wait for other avenues of funding. Meanwhile, BOR is at the mercy of the very limited availability of Becker hammer rigs, that also drain the project exploration budget.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Dynamic Cone Penetration Test for Liquefaction Evaluation of Grevelly Soils (final, PDF, 1.5MB)
By Mike Talbot
Research Product completed on September 30, 2017

This research product summarizes the research results and potential application to Reclamation's mission.

Dynamic Cone Penetration Test for Liquefaction Evaluation of Grevelly Soils (final, PDF, 1.5MB)
By Mike Talbot
Research Product completed on September 30, 2017

This research product summarizes the research results and potential application to Reclamation's mission.


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Last Updated: 4/4/17