Automatic classification of fine-grained soils using CPT measurements and Artificial Neural Networks

Cormac Reale, Kenneth Gavin, Lovorka Librić, Danijela Jurić-Kaćunić

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (SciVal)


Soil classification is a means of grouping soils into categories according to a shared set of properties or characteristics that will exhibit similar engineering behaviour under loading. Correctly classifying site conditions is an important, costly, and time-consuming process which needs to be carried out at every building site prior to the commencement of construction or the design of foundation systems. This paper presents a means of automating classification for fine-grained soils, using a feed-forward ANN (Artificial Neural Networks) and CPT (Cone Penetration Test) measurements. Thus representing a significant saving of both time and money streamlining the construction process. 216 pairs of laboratory results and CPT tests were gathered from five locations across Northern Croatia and were used to train, test, and validate the ANN models. The resultant Neural Networks were saved and were subjected to a further external verification using CPT data from the Veliki vrh landslide. A test site, which the model had not previously been exposed to. The neural network approach proved extremely adept at predicting both ESCS (European Soil Classification System) and USCS (Unified Soil Classification System) soil classifications, correctly classifying almost 90% of soils. While the soils that were incorrectly classified were only partially misclassified. The model was compared to a previously published model, which was compiled using accepted industry standard soil parameter correlations and was shown to be a substantial improvement, in terms of correlation coefficient, absolute average error, and the accuracy of soil classification according to both USCS and ESCS guidelines. The study confirms the functional link between CPT results, the percentage of fine particles FC, the liquid limit wL and the plasticity index IP. As the training database grows in size, the approach should make soil classification cheaper, faster and less labour intensive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-215
Number of pages9
JournalAdvanced Engineering Informatics
Early online date14 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2018


  • ANN
  • CPT
  • Machine learning
  • Neural networks
  • Soil classification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence


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