What is the Shrinkage Limit?

The shrinkage limit of a soil is the moisture content at which:

  • the soil is considered saturated.
  • any loss of moisture will not result in any volume changes.

The shrinkage limit is much less commonly used than the other Atterberg limits, the plastic limit and liquid limit. I have never seen the shrinkage limit reported on any of my projects.

Many geotechnical engineers refer to the shrinkage limit as the boundary between the solid and semi-solid state of a soil.

The ASTM test for shrinkage limit of a soil is ASTM D4943. For the other Atterberg limits, the test is ASTM D4318.

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