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Shock and Vibration
Volume 15 (2008), Issue 2, Pages 127-135

Soil Properties from Low-Velocity Probe Penetration

Jerome B. Johnson,1 James D. Cargile,2 and Donald M. Smith2

1USA Engineer Research and Development Center, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, PO Box 35170, Ft. Wainwright, AK 99703, USA
2USA Engineer Research and Development Center, Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory, 3909 Halls Ferry Road, Vicksburg, MS 39180, USA

Received 7 November 2005; Revised 20 November 2006

Copyright © 2008 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A physical model of low-velocity probe penetration is developed to characterize soil by type, strength, maximum compaction, and initial density using Newton's second law to describe the processes controlling probe momentum loss. The probe loses momentum by causing soil failure (strength), accelerating and compacting soil around the probe (inertia), and through frictional sliding at the probe/soil interface (friction). Probe geometry, mass, and impact velocity influences are incorporated into the model. Model predictions of probe deceleration history and depth of penetration agree well with experiments, without the need for free variables or complex numerical simulations.