Soil load bearing testing procedures

Written by laverne blumling
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Shear resistances determine the load bearing capacity of soil. The load-bearing soil test establishes how well the soil will resist displacement, rupture or excessive settlement when a force or load is placed on it.


Many different procedures are available to assess shear failures in soil. The California Bearing Ratio (CBR) measures the pressure required to penetrate the soil. That number is then divided by the pressure necessary to obtain an equal penetration using a crushed rock material. A plate bearing test (loading/deflection measuring system) involves in-situ measuring of the soil by placing loads on the plate and noting settlement at certain intervals.


Site conditions and testing equipment must be protected from moisture, sunlight and adverse weather when performing plate bearing tests.

Other procedures

Allowable soil loads can be based on other test procedures that include shear strength tests and triaxial or unconfined compression tests of soil conducted in a laboratory. Cone penetrometer testing in the field and moisture density-strength relationship tests are also used as load-bearing soil testing methods.

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