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Calibrations of a high suction tensiometer.

Lourenço, S. D. N. and Gallipoli, D. and Toll, D. G. and Augarde, C. E. and Evans, F. D. and Medero, G. M. (2008) 'Calibrations of a high suction tensiometer.', Géotechnique., 58 (8). pp. 659-668.


High-suction tensiometers are able to measure suctions up to 2 MPa. Direct calibration at such high suctions requires the imposition of negative water pressures, which are difficult to achieve using facilities commonly available in soil mechanics laboratories. For this reason, tensiometers are usually calibrated in the positive pressure range, and such calibration is subsequently extrapolated to negative pressures. This paper examines different experimental techniques to assess the accuracy of such extrapolation. Any error in the calibration process would be directly reflected in the measured values of suction, and might be particularly significant (in relative terms) for the measurement of low suctions. In addition, the results of this study show that calibration in the positive range is affected both by the physical configuration of the tensiometer during calibration and by aspects of its design. The paper concludes that linear extrapolation of the calibration from the positive to the negative range is sufficiently accurate provided that calibration is done under conditions that closely match the conditions in which the tensiometer will be used. Owing to structural differences between tensiometers, and also to suctioninduced ‘calibration hysteresis’, at least one check on the accuracy of the extrapolated calibration equation over a range of negative pressure should be performed, even if at low values of suction.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Laboratory equipment, Laboratory testing, Partial saturation, Suction.
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Record Created:24 Sep 2008
Last Modified:30 Sep 2011 16:55

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