Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. L. Sebastian Bryson


Inadequate compaction of a soil subgrade can lead to detrimental outcomes that are not only costly but dangerous to the general public. To avoid this, quality control (QC) devices such as the nuclear density gauge (NDG) are currently being used to monitor the compaction and moisture content of soil subgrades. However, regulatory concerns associated with the NDG have encouraged federal and state agencies, as well as the heavy civil construction industry to consider non-nuclear devices for QC testing of compacted soils. One such non-nuclear device is the Soil Density Gauge (SDG), which utilizes electromagnetic wave propagation to obtain soil properties such as wet unit weight and moisture content. This research shows that through using soil-specific trend lines, the SDG has the capability of obtaining an equivalent NDG wet unit weight. Alongside the SDG, two dielectric moisture probes were also evaluated and through a calibration process on compacted soils, a general moisture content trend line was developed. This general moisture content trend line related outputted volumetric moisture contents from the moisture probes to gravimetric moisture contents. Field data were then plotted along with the general moisture content trend line to show that these devices have the potential of predicting gravimetric moisture contents.

By combining the results of the SDG and moisture probe analyses, graphs were then developed that relate SDG wet unit weights to NDG dry unit weights using soil and moisture-specific trend lines.