What Is the Penetration Test?
These tests involve the measurement of the resistance to penetration of a sampling spoon, a cone or other shaped tools under dynamic or static loadings.
The resistance is empirically correlated with some of the engineering properties of soil such as density index, consistency, bearing capacity, etc. The values of these tests lie in the amount of experience behind them.
These tests are useful for general exploration of erratic soil profiles, for finding the depth to bedrock or hard stratum and to have an approximate indication of the strength and other properties of soils, particularly the cohesionless soils, from which it is difficult to obtain undisturbed samples.
Here, two different types of tests of Penetration ara as follows.

 The Standard Penetration Test.
 The Cone Penetration Test.
What is the SPT Test?
 SPT full name is Standard Penetration Test. The meaning of SPT test is to determine the penetration resistance of the soil.
 The standard penetration test is coming under the category of penetrometer tests.
 An empirical penetration correlation is derived between the soil properties and the penetration resistance.
 This test (IS: 21311981) is performed in a clean hole 55 to 150mm (millimeter) in dia
 A casing or drilling mud can be used to support the sides of the hole. A thickwall splittube sampler, 50.8 mm OD and 35 mm ID, is driven into the undisturbed soil into the bottom of the hole under the blows of a 63.5 kg drive weight with 75 cm free fall.
 The minimum open length of the sample should be 60 cm.
Procedure for Standard Penetration Test:
 Test procedure: The SPT test procedure involves the split tube sampler, commonly known as split spoon sampler resting on the bottom of the borehole is allowed to sink under its own weight.
 It is then seated 15 cm with the blows of the hammer falling through a height of 75 cm. Then, the split spoon sampler is further driven by 30 cm or 50 blows.
 The number of blows required to affect each 15 cm penetration is recorded.
 The first 15 cm of the drive is considered to be seat drive.
 The total blows necessary for the second and third 15 cm of penetration is termed as the penetration resistance N.
 In case the split spoon sampler is driven less than 45 cm (total), then the penetration resistance will be for the last 30 cm of penetration.
 The whole sampler may sometimes sink under its own weight when very soft subsoil stratum is encountered.
 Under these conditions, it might not be necessary to give any blow for a sampler, and SPT value should be indicated as zero.
 Corrections to Be Observed N Values.
 Overburden Pressure Correction by Other Workers.
 Correlation of N with Soil Properties.
#1. Corrections to Be Observed N Values
The observed value of N is correct for SPT correction for Overburden
 Correction for Overburden.
 Correction for Dilatancy/submergence.
#1a. Correction for Overburden
A density classification for sands has been proposed originally, in general terms, by Terzaghi and Peck, on the ground of standard penetration resistance, as shown in columns (1) and (2) of as per below table.
(1)
N value 
(2)
Classification 
(3)
lo (%) 
(4)
(N1)60 
04  Very loose  015  03 
410  Loose  1535  38 
1030  Medium dense  3565  825 
3050  Dense  6585  2542 
>50  Very dense  85100  4258 
Numerical values of density index, as shown in column (3), were then added by Gibbs and Holtz.
But, standard penetration resistance is dependent not only on density index but also on the effective stresses at a depth of measurement; effective stresses can be represented into a first approximation by effective overburden pressure.
This dependence has been first demonstrated in the laboratory by resistance at different depths. Several proposals are made for the correction of measured N values after the work of Gibbs and Holtz.
The corrected value (N1) is related to the measured value (N) by the factor CN, in which and was later confirmed in the field. Sand in the same density index would thus give different values of standard penetration resistance at different depths.
Several proposals are made for the correction of measured N values after the work of Gibbs and Holtz. The corrected value (N 0) is related to the measured value (N) by the factor Cn, where
N 0 = Cn.N————————————— (1)
Cn = Normalising correction factor
Normalizing correction
#1b. Correction for Dilatancy/submergence
The values N o obtained after applying overburden correction is corrected further for dilatancy if the stratum consists of fine silt and sand below the water table, for values of N greater than 15, using the following expression:
N e = 15 + (N 0 – 15 )
#2. Overburden Pressure Correction by Other Workers
For a constant density index, the N value increase with increasing effective overburden pressure for which correction has been proposed by Gibbs and Holtz, Peck, Thornburn, Whitman, and others.
Gibbs and Holtz (1957) have experimentally studied the effect of overburden pressure on the values of N. Their modification for air dry or moist sand can be represented by the relation :
N 0 = N ( 500 / 1.42Ïƒ + 100 ) ————————————— (2)
 N 0 = Corrected Value for Overburden Effect
 N = Actual Value
 Ïƒ =Â Effective Overburden Pressure (Not Exceed 282 kN/sq.mm)
Peck (1974) proposed that N values be reported at a reference overburden pressure of 100 kN/Sq.m., and the normalized value of N (Corrected for Overburden Pressure) be expressed as follows:
N 0 = Cn.N
 Cn = Normalizing Factor
 = 0.77 log10 (2000/Ïƒ)————————————— (3)
 Ïƒ = Effective overburden pressure (kN/Sq.m) at the test level.
The above correction is valid for ÏƒÂ > 25 kN/sq.m. It may be noted that at reference overburden pressure of 100 kN/sq.m., Cn = 1. If Ïƒ decreases below reference pressure, Cn increases; at Ïƒ = 50 kN/sq.m Cn = 1.234.
However, if Ïƒ increases above the reference overburden pressure of 100 kN/sq.n., Cn becomes less than unity; at Ïƒ = 400 kN/sq.m., Cn = 0.54. Eq. 3 is represented by curves of as per above figure adopted by BIS.
Lio and Whitman (1986) has proposed the following expression for Cn
Cn = âˆš(2000/Ïƒ ) ————————————— (4)
 Here again at Ïƒ = 100 kN/Sq.m, Cn = 1
 Ïƒ = 50 kN/Sq.m, Cn = 1.141
 Ïƒ = 400 kN/Sq.m, Cn = 0.5
Correlation of N with Soil Properties:
Corrected N  5  10  15  20  25  30  35  40  45  50 
Ã˜  29.  30  32  33  35  36  38.  39  40  43 
Relation between N and Ã˜ table 2
As per the above table 2 gives the relation between corrected N value and angle of shearing Ã˜Â resistance, as suggested by Peck (1974).
Relation between N and Ã˜
As per the above figure gives the graphical relationship between corrected N value and angle Ã˜ as adopted by Indian Standard (IS: 64031981). This value of Ã˜ can then be used for finding capacity factors Nc, Nq, and Ny
As per below table 3Â and 4 give some empirical correlations of the soil properties with corrected penetration resistance. The approximate values of 4 are after Meyerhof (1956)
Penetration Resistance N (Blows)  Approx. Ã˜ (Degrees)  Density Index (%)  Description  Approx. Moist Unit Weight (Kn/m.cubic) 
â€”  2530  0  
4  2732  15  Very loose  1.121.6 
10  3035  35  Loose  1.441.84 
30  3540  65  Medium  1.762.08 
50  3843  85  Dense  1.762.24 
â€”  100  Very dense  2.082.40 
Table 3Â PenetrationÂ resistance and empiricalÂ corrections of cohesionless SoilsÂ
Also,
 Ã˜ = 25 + 0.15 Id , with fine greater than 5%
 Ã˜ = 30 + 0.15 Id, with fine less than 5%
Larger values could be used for granular soil with 5% or less fine silt and sand
Penetration Resistance (Blows)  Unconfined Compressive Strength (T/sq.m)  Saturated Density (T/m.cubic)  Consistency 
0  0  –  Very soft 
2  3  1.61.92  Soft 
4  5  –  Medium 
8  10  1.762.08  Stiff 
16  20  1.922.24  Very stiff 
32  40  –  Hard 
Table 4 PenetrationÂ resistance and empiricalÂ corrections of cohesive SoilsÂ
Efficiency of Standard Penetration Testing:
The actual energy effective in the driving of the SPT equipment varies due to many factors.
Â Hence, in addition to the effective overburden stress at the tested location, the SPT parameter depends on the following additional factors:
 Hammer Efficiency.
 Length of Drill Rod.
 Sampler.
 Borehole Diameter.
Advantages andÂ Disadvantages of Standard Penetration Test
Advantages of Standard Penetration Test
 This very simple and economical.
 This test provides a representative sample 0for visual review.
 Actual soil behavior is accessed through the Standard Penetration Test values.
 The method will help to penetrate dense fills and layers.
 The test may be applied for a variety of soil conditions.
Disadvantages of Standard Penetration Test
 The results will vary because of any operator or mechanical variability or drilling disturbances.
 Teat very costly also timeconsuming.
 The test results from the Standard Penetration Test can’t be reproduced.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Standard Penetration Test (SPT) in Geotechnical Engineering:
What is the Standard Penetration Test (SPT)?
The Standard Penetration Test (SPT) is a widelyused geotechnical investigation method to determine the penetration resistance of soil. It involves driving a thickwall splittube sampler into the ground under controlled conditions and recording the number of blows required for penetration at specific depths.
How is the SPT performed?
The SPT is performed by dropping a 63.5 kg hammer from a height of 75 cm onto the splittube sampler, which is seated at the bottom of a borehole. The number of blows required for each 15 cm of penetration is recorded, with the first 15 cm considered as seat drive.
What are the corrections applied to SPT values?
Several corrections are applied to SPT values, including corrections for overburden pressure, dilatancy/submergence, and other factors like hammer efficiency and drill rod length.
What are the advantages of the Standard Penetration Test?
The SPT is simple, economical, and provides representative soil samples for visual examination. It helps assess actual soil behavior, penetrate dense layers, and can be applied across various soil conditions.
What are the disadvantages of the Standard Penetration Test?
Results may vary due to operator or mechanical variability, and drilling disturbances can affect accuracy. The test can be costly and timeconsuming, and results may not always be reproducible.
How are SPT values correlated with soil properties?
SPT values are correlated with soil properties such as density index, angle of shearing resistance, unconfined compressive strength, and consistency. These correlations help estimate soil properties based on SPT results.
What are some common applications of the Standard Penetration Test?
The SPT is used for general exploration of soil profiles, determining depth to bedrock or hard strata, and assessing the strength and properties of soils, especially cohesionless soils where obtaining undisturbed samples is challenging. It’s widely used in geotechnical engineering for foundation design and soil classification.
How reliable are SPT results?
SPT results can provide valuable insights into soil properties but are subject to various factors that can influence accuracy. Careful consideration of corrections and interpretation is necessary to ensure reliable results.
Can SPT results be used for design purposes?
SPT results are commonly used for preliminary design and analysis in geotechnical engineering. However, they should be supplemented with additional sitespecific investigations and engineering judgment for detailed design purposes.
Is the Standard Penetration Test internationally recognized?
Yes, the Standard Penetration Test is recognized and widely used in geotechnical engineering worldwide. Standard procedures and correlations have been developed by various organizations and standards bodies to ensure consistency and reliability across different regions.