California bearing ratio

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The California Bearing Ratio (CBR) test is a penetration test used to evaluate the subgrade strength of roads and pavements. The results of these tests are used with the empirical curves to determine the thickness of pavement and its component layers. This is the most widely used method for the design of flexible pavement.[1]

The CBR test was developed by the California Division of Highways to classify and evaluate soil-sub grade and base course materials for flexible pavements. An empirical test, the CBR test has been used to determine the material properties for pavement design. Empirical tests measure the strength of the material and are not a true representation of the resilient modulus.[clarification needed][2] It is a penetration test in which a standard piston, with a diameter of 1.954 in or 50 mm, is used to penetrate the soil at a standard rate of 1.25 mm/minute. The pressure up to a penetration of 12.5 mm and its ratio to the bearing value of a standard crushed rock is termed as the CBR. In most cases, CBR decreases as the penetration increases. The ratio at 2.5 mm penetration is used as the CBR. In some cases, the ratio at 5 mm may be greater than that at 2.5 mm. If this occurs, the ratio at 5 mm should be used. The CBR is a measure of resistance of a material to penetration of a standard plunger under controlled density and moisture conditions. The test procedure should be strictly adhered to if a high degree of reproducibility is desired. The CBR test may be conducted on a remolded or undisturbed specimen in the laboratory. The test is simple and has been extensively investigated for field correlations of flexible pavement thickness requirement.

The laboratory CBR apparatus consists of a mould of 150 mm diameter with a base plate and a collar, a loading frame and dial gauges for measuring the penetration values and the expansion on soaking. The specimen in the mould is soaked in water for four days and the swelling and water absorption values are noted. The surcharge weight is placed on the top of the specimen in the mould and the assembly is placed under the plunger of the loading frame.

Load is applied on the sample by a standard plunger with diameter 50 mm at the rate of 1.25 mm/min. A load penetration curve is drawn. The load values on standard crushed stones are 1370 kg and 2055 kg at 2.5 mm and 5.0 mm penetrations respectively.

The CBR value is expressed as a percentage of the actual load causing the penetrations of 2.5 mm or 5.0 mm to the standard loads mentioned above. The CBR can therefore be mathematically expressed as:

= measured pressure for site soils [N/mm²]
= pressure to achieve equal penetration on standard soil [N/mm²]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Jamal, Haseeb. "CBR Test". AboutCivil.Org. Retrieved 23 September 2019.