The Design and Operation of a Novel Miniature Cone Penetration Test System

Tumay, M. T.,
Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, and the Georgia Gulf Distinguished Professor of Engineering, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA, and

Kurup, P. U.,
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 1 University Ave., Lowell, MA, USA


This paper describes the design and illustrates the operation of a continuous intrusion miniature cone penetration test system (CIMCPT) for shallow to semi-deep subsurface investigations. Novel features of this system are the coiled push rod assembly with a miniature cone penetrometer attached to the lower end, and the chain driven caterpillar- type continuous push device to advance the penetrometer into the soil. This unique design makes the CIMCPT faster and robust compared to conventional CPT systems that use jointed push rods and intermittent thrust device. The system is housed in an environmentally controlled van body that is mounted on a one-ton, four-wheel drive, all-terrain vehicle. A state-of-the-art data acquisition system acquires, stores, and displays data on a computer screen, in graphic form, in real time. An integrated global positioning system collects accurate position data and outputs test locations directly to the computer. The miniature cone penetrometer has a projected cone area of 2 cm2 and a friction sleeve surface area equal to 40 cm2. It gives finer, detailed soil profiles compared to the large 10 cm2 cross-sectional area cone penetrometer. The performance of the CIMCPT system was verified by calibration against the standard 10 cm2 reference cone penetrometer at well-characterized, well-documented test sites including the U.S. National Geotechnical Experimentation Sites.

KEYWORDS: Miniature Cone Penetration Tests, Subsurface Exploration, Global Positioning System, Data Acquisition, in situ test, site characterization

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