When you think of Cone Penetration Testing (CPT) you may tend to focus on the soil being tested, which makes sense since soil testing and analysis is largely what CPT is all about. But let’s not forget another equally important aspect of soil testing: moisture.

While measuring soil moisture levels isn’t necessarily important in every investigation, it is often valuable information to have for your data set. When designing underground electrical equipment or digging tunnels, for example, knowing soil moisture conditions at certain depths is crucial.

Measuring Moisture with a ‘Piezocone’

Measuring the moisture content of soil is a crucial aspect of CPT that is performed by a type of cone known as a ‘Piezocone.’ The Piezocone is a core component of many CPT systems; in fact, it’s actually a type of CPT cone. Able to measure the presence of groundwater, the Piezocone is fitted with a device that measures in-situ pore pressure. As such, when the cone penetrates into soils, water pressure is exerted on and measured by the Piezocone. Pore pressure data is recorded automatically during the testing process.

As with any standard Cone Penetration Test, the Piezocone also measures pore pressure tip resistance, sleeve friction to provide a picture of the soil behavior being tested. Due to its relatively specialized nature, the Piezocone is typically used when soil conditions are expected to be fairly wet. The Piezocone is a standard configuration of most CPT cones while adding the ability to measure a greater breadth of information.

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