Spatial Variability: High-resolution Assessment with Electrical Needle Probe

by Gye Chun Cho, Jong-Sub Lee, J. Carlos Santamarina
Year: 2004


Cho, G. C., Lee, J. S., and Santamarina, J. C. (2004). "Spatial Variability: High-resolution Assessment with Electrical Needle Probe." ASCE Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Vol. 130, No. 8, pp. 843-850


The global response of a soil is affected by spatial as well as temporal scales. An electrical needle-size probe is developed to effectively assess one-dimensional spatial variability. The probe is designed for laboratory specimens (needle diameter 1.2–2.2 mm), and it can be scaled for field applications. Design considerations include the tip shape, insertion disturbance, electrochemical effects, corrosion, operating frequency, and electrical resonance. Two calibration methods are presented to determine local soil permittivity and resistivity from the measured complex impedance; the simplified calibration procedure is based on resistance measurements only. The local electrical parameters permit one to infer the soil porosity and the electrolyte conductivity. The attainable spatial resolution depends on the needle diameter; submillimetric resolution is typically achieved in laboratory applications. Reconstituted sand specimens and undisturbed clayey specimens are tested to explore the resolution potential of this probe. The electrical needle probe clearly detects the spatial variability that results from different specimen preparation methods in sands and soil layering from natural formation histories such as those in varved clays. 


Corrosion Electrical resistivity Interfaces Layered soils Porosity Penetration Penetrometers