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[TowerTalk] What is "normal" soil?

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Subject: [TowerTalk] What is "normal" soil?
From: (Curtis, David B)
Date: Mon, 1 Nov 1999 16:00:36 -0800
Thanks for the response. I learned a lot from it.
The story about the local expert says a lot... I suspect that in most areas
there are only a few soil types and a local soils engineer can probably give
the right answer by eyeball 95% of the time.
In my case, I've got enough rock and coarse grain soil that I think I should
pay up for a quick expert consultation. This stuff slides and washes when
saturated by the winter rains, so it may be marginal to "normal" strength,
and I don't want to risk it. I'm no soils expert, but I know clay, and I
know good Minnesota black-as-midnight loam, and my current place sure isn't
either of those.

73, Dave N6NZ

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Sunday, October 31, 1999 8:34 AM
Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] What is "normal" soil?

In a message dated 10/27/99 2:37:20 PM Central Standard Time, writes:

<< The Rohn catalog talks about "normal" soil.  
 What is "normal"? What is a simple, cheap test that I can do to see if I
 have "normal" soil? Is this something that can be done as a slump test?
 Then, of course, that leads to the question: if my soil is NOT normal, what
 is the right way to engineer guy anchors and tower bases? (Please, no
 "overbuild till it looks good to the eyeball" or "it works for me" answers.
 I'm interested in the engineering answer. My mama paid good money for this
 engineering degree, and by golly I'm going to use it :-)
 73, Dave N6NZ
The 400 PSF/ft of depth is for lateral bearing of guy anchors. The value
not contain the required factor of safety of 2. If you work in allowable 
stresses you end up with  200 psf/ ft of depth with a maximum of 2000 psf. 
Now you need to know the depth and thickness of your anchor. For the small 
towers with anchors less that 10' deep -- find the depth to the center of
anchor block -- call it D. Now multiply D x 200 psf/ft and you will get the 
allowable lateral bearing pressure for the foundation -- call Q. The lateral

side bearing area x Q must be greater than the horizontal load for the guy 

Now for your question of "What is normal soil?" Normal soil can be found in 
Peoria, IL. It is a cohesive soil with no water (water table below
depth). What is cohesive?

SOILS Mechanics 101

Soils are classified by their grain size. In laymans terms -- there are 
bolders, gravels, sands, silts, and clays (large to small). Solid rock has 
its own system with RQDs and other properties (another subject). Soils come 
in various mixtures and have two major properties -- angle of internal 
friction (phi) and cohesion (C). To simplify - pure sands have phi and pure 
clays have C. Trust me this is an over simplfication! Now soils are hardly 
ever just one type so most soils are classified according to charts rating 
their grain size. This test can be done in the laboratory with a grain size 
analysis (a series of various size screens) or it can be done by hand and 
"feeling" the soil. A sand will feel gritty and a clay will feel smooth. A 
silt is in between and can fall either way. Silts are the most difficult to 
classify. There are some beach sands that are classified as silts and have 
phi angles and some silts are hard as clays. Hard silts will loose strength 
when wetted and clays don't.  

Now what is Normal Soil? Normal soil is a cohesive soil - normally a clay
could be a silt. To make a comparison - take Q from above and if it greater 
than C (cohesion) it meets or exceed the normal soil parameters. C can be 
measured by various means. The laboratory test - unconfied/2, The standard 
penetration test (N /8), The pocket penetrometer test /3. There is even a 
system of estimating C using your thumb nail. The answer to which test to
depends on your available equipment and experiance. I once worked with a guy

that went out with contract soils boring crew to oversee the operation. The 
crew was using their pocket penetometer and he picked up a piece of the 
sample and tasted it and said ".5 tsf". The crew was astouned that it mached

their reading too. What the crew didn't know was that most of soils were
.5 tsf soils and the odds were in his favor.

I hope is explaination and quick lesson in soil mechanics gives some insite 
to the world of "Normal Soil"

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