Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil Engineering


The principal reason for measuring particle size distribution is for the utilization of the relationships that exist between particle size and soil performance characteristics. The most interesting property of finely divided substance is the tremendous surface-to-weight ratio which they possess. The surface-to-weight ratio varies inversely with the square of the particle diameter. Thus, properties of particles which depend upon the amount of exposed surface are generally influenced by the size of the particles. Also, grain size distribution is very useful in the field of soils engineering. Particles size are measured by several methods and every method is not suitable for all purposes. The most promising and the most widely used methods for determining particle size distributions in the subseive range are based on sedimentation because they are simple to preform, give accurate results, and require inexpensive equipment. The sedimentation methods are of two types. The first type is known as the incremental method. Pipette, hydrometer, and photoextinction are examples of this method. The measurements are made to determine changes in the concentration in a setting suspension. The second type, called cumulative, involves the measurement if the overall accumulation of the settled suspension, usually by a balance introduced into the sedimentation. In all conventional sedimentation methods, which employ a uniform suspension, it is necessary to differentiate the sedimentation curve in order to evaluate the size distribution. The method described in this thesis has an advantage over the others because it does not necessitate such differentiation, which is very tedious and time consuming. A further advantage is that it is unnecessary to make an accurate distribution of the initial weight. Particle size distribution curves for three different samples were plotted from weight accumulation test data as well as hydrometer test data. Comparative tests with the hydrometer analysis confirm the reliability of this testing procedure.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Particle size determination
Sedimentation analysis
Soil absorption and adsorption


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University