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Published By Lankelma

Lankelma is the foremost contractor for onshore in-situ soil testing in the UK. An acknowledged specialist in CPT, Lankelma also offers a worldwide consultancy and training service.

A.P. van den Berg develops, designs and manufactures geotechnical and environmental soil investigation equipment for onshore and offshore applications. Specialists in CPT systems and equipment.


Gardline Geosciences offers worldwide marine geotechnics, in-house consutancy and services with marine investigations ranging from nearshore to full ocean depth (down to 3000m).

About the Author

Hans Brouwer studied civil engineering at Delft University in The Netherlands. He has worked as a part-time lecturer at Amsterdam Polytechnic and was senior partner in a structural engineering consultancy. He has written a standard textbook in Dutch about the design of building foundations. He now lives in England where he writes technical textbooks in English, hopefully to reach a bigger readership.

Chapter 7

Onshore testing

Onshore testing introduction


A cone penetrometer attached to the end of a series of rods is pushed
into the ground at a constant rate and continuous measurements are
made. The cone penetrometer consists of the cone tip, friction sleeve,
any other sensors and measuring systems, as well as the connections
to the push rods. The most commonly used measuring systems are:

  • CPT Tip resistance + sleeve friction
  • CPTU Tip resistance + sleeve friction + porewater pressure.

Increasingly, special cones (as described in Chapter 4) are used.
Probing with rods through weak ground to locate a firmer stratum has
been practised since about 1917. It was in the Netherlands in about
1932 that the CPT was introduced in a form recognisable today. In
earlier days the method was referred to as the static penetration test,
quasi-static penetration test and Dutch sounding test.
Existing CPT systems can be divided into three main groups:

  • mechanical cone penetrometers (not used in the UK)
  • electric cone penetrometers
  • piezocone penetrometers.

A cone penetrometer with a 10 cm2 base area cone and an apex angle
of 60° is accepted as the reference and has been specified in the
international reference test procedure[1].
The CPT apparatus consists of a thrust machine and reaction system
(rig), and a penetrometer including measurement and recording
equipment. Machines generally have a thrust capacity in the range
20–200 kN. 

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