Skip to main content
Wilma Caldwell
Architectural technologist
Asked a question 2 years ago

What is disturbed and undisturbed soil sample?

What is disturbed and undisturbed soil sample?

Where am I?

In TheConstructor you can ask and answer questions and share your experience with others!

Lillian Holmes
Director of Public Works

Disturbed soil sample is one in which the structure of the soil has been changed sufficiently that tests of the structural properties of the soil will not be representatives of in-situ conditions, and only properties of soil grains can be accurately determined.

Undisturbed soil sample is one where the condition of the soil in the sample is close enough to the conditions of the soil in in-situ to allow tests of structural properties of the soil to be used to approximate the properties of the soil in-situ.

Disturbed soil sample :-

Disturbed soil smple are generally obtained to determine soil type, gradation, classification, density, consistency, presence of contaminants, stratification, etc. The methods for obtaining disturbed samples vary from hand excavating of material with picks and shovels to using truck mounted augers and other rotatory drilling techniques. These samples are considered , disturbed since the sampling process modifies their natural structure.

Undisturbed soil sample :-

Undisturbed soil sample is used to determine the in place strength, compressibility (settlement), natural moisture content, unit weight, permeability, discontinuities, fractures and fissures of subsurface formations. Even though such samples are designated as undisturbed, in reality they are disturbed to varying degrees. The degree of disturbance depend upon the type of subsurface materials, type and condition of the sampling equipment used, the skill of the drillers, and the storage and transportation methods used.

Ross Kim
Geotechnical engineer

Hi, I provided an answer for practical understanding. Make a hole in ground with shovel, take a sample of the soil digout,called as of disturbed soil sample. Let you are an geotechnical engineer studying soil for foundations of a building in stage of planning. Instead of other things  undisturbed soil samples is needed to analize in a soils laboratory. Take samples with a hollow cylinder then cut into the soil and don’t disturb it, take sample, put in plastic bag.  Dobty disturb the water content of the sample.It521  is an undisturbed sample.

Mike Rhodes
Land and property valuer and auctioneer
What is disturbed and undisturbed soil sample?


Basically, the soil sample is categorised into two types-

  1. Representative Soil Sample, and
  2. Non-represented Soil Sample.

Non-representative soil sample has two sub-types, i.e.

  1. Disturbed soil sample
  2. Undisturbed soil sample

Definition of disturbed soil sample :

If the in-situ properties of soil do not retain while collection process then that type of soil is called a disturbed soil sample.

Definition of undisturbed soil sample:

When the structural integrity of the soil is retained and has a high recovery rate, then that type of sample is called an undisturbed soil sample.

Disturbed soil samples don’t hold the in-situ properties of the soil during the assortment procedure. Engineers don’t believe these examples to be illustrative of underground soils aside from geotechnical testing that doesn’t depend on the structure of the soil itself. Researchers generally test disturbed soil samples for soil type and texture, moisture content, and nutrient and contaminant analysis, among different assessments. Most of the soil tests specialists and geologists gather are disturbed samples since they are simpler to gather, and the accuracy expected to gather an undisturbed sample isn’t required for most geotechnical testing.

Undisturbed soil samples hold every property of the soil and have a high recuperation rate inside the sampler. Gathering an entirely undisturbed sample is troublesome, and the samplers may contain a little part of undisturbed soil at the top and base of the sample length. Undisturbed samples allow an engineer to decide the geotechnical properties of strength, permeability, compressibility, and fracture patterns, among others. Aftereffects of these examinations are instrumental in the design of another structure.


The soil Samples can be of two types: disturbed and undisturbed.

1) A disturbed sample is that in which the natural structure of soils gets partly or fully modified and destroyed, although, with suitable precautions, the natural water content may be preserved. Such a sample should, however, be representative of the natural soil by maintaining the original proportion of the various soil particles intact. It can be used to determine the index properties of the soil, Such as grain size, plasticity characteristics specific gravity. However, it is impossible to get a truly undisturbed sample. Some disturbance is inevitable during sampling, even when the utmost care is taken. Even the removal of the sample from the ground produces a change in the stresses and causes disturbances. It is used for determining the compressibility, shear strength permeability shrinkage limit, etc. The smaller disturbance, the greater would be the reliability of the results.

2) An undisturbed sample is that in which the natural structure and properties remain preserved.

Disturbed soil samples:

The soil samples whose natural structural integrity gets changed, during the process of collection, to a considerable amount is called disturbed soil samples. These changes could be in the soil structure, in the stress condition, in its texture, in the water content and void ratio, in chemical properties, etc.

Undisturbed soil samples:

In undisturbed soil samples the natural soil structure, the stress condition, its texture, the water content, and the void ratio, the chemical properties do not get changed during sampling.

Related Questions