Synthesizing Bulk Density for Soils with Abundant Rock Fragments
- Kirk R. Vincent and
- Oliver A. Chadwick
Bulk density is a fundamental soil property that is difficult to determine for gravelly to extremely gravelly soils because results vary significantly with sample volume. For such coarse soils, the representative volume (for whole-soil bulk density) should be large, but guidelines for selecting an appropriate sample volume do not exist. We evaluated the representative volume for a soil with abundant rock fragments, by comparing measured properties of samples ranging in volume from 0.03 to 410 L. For whole-soil bulk density determination, the representative volume is 4 L or larger for a soil horizon containing 34% (v/v) gravel and is between 5 and 50 L for a soil horizon containing 54% gravel. Intact samples of that size are prohibitively large, so we developed an alternative approach that starts with measurement of fine-earth bulk density. For fine-earth bulk density, the sample volume needed for representative results is between 0.2 and 1 L for gravelly to extremely gravelly soils. The alternative approach reliably synthesizes whole-soil bulk density using (i) fine-earth bulk density from modest-sized samples, (ii) mass-size distribution from large (>40 kg) representative disturbed samples, and (iii) rock fragment bulk densities. The mass and volume of rock fragments that should be in a sample are added to the mass and volume used to calculate fine-earth bulk density. This method allows integration of lateral variability in the soil without the consequence of averaging properties across a large depth range.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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