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Bulk density is a property of powders, granules and other "divided" solids, especially used in reference to soil. It is defined as the mass of many particles of the material divided by the total volume they occupy. The total volume includes particle volume, inter-particle void volume and internal pore volume.[1]

Bulk density is not an intrinsic property of a material; it can change depending on how the material is handled. For example, a powder poured in to a cylinder will have a particular bulk density; if the cylinder is disturbed, the powder particles will move and usually settle closer together, resulting in a higher bulk density. For this reason, the bulk density of powders is usually reported both as "freely settled" and "tapped" density (where the tapped density refers to the bulk density of the powder after a specified compaction process, usually involving vibration of the container.)

Contents

Soil

The bulk density of soil depends greatly on the mineral make up of soil and the degree of compaction. The density of quartz is around 2.65g/cm³ but the bulk density of a mineral soil is normally about half that density, between 1.0 and 1.6g/cm³. Soils high in organics and some friable clay may have a bulk density well below 1g/cm³

Bulk density of soil is usually determined on Core samples which are taken by driving a metal corer into the soil at the desired depth and horizon. The samples are then oven dried and weighed.

Bulk density = mass of oven dry soil/core volume

\rho = \frac{M_s}{V_t}

The bulk density of soil is inversely related to the porosity of the same soil. The more pore space in a soil the lower the value for bulk density.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Page 50 in Buckman, Harry O.; Brady, Nyle C. (1960), The Nature and Property of Soils - A College Text of Edaphology (6th ed.), New York: MacMillan Publishers, New York, NY  

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