Photogrammetry-Based Method to Determine the Absolute Volume of Soil Specimen during Triaxial Testing


Triaxial tests are used extensively to evaluate stress-strain behavior for both saturated and unsaturated soils. A literature review indicates that all conventional triaxial test methods measure the relative volume of soil; however, between the initial measurements and the start of the triaxial tests, there are unavoidably disturbances during installation that cause deviation of soil volume from that at the initial condition. Recently image-based methods have been developed to measure the absolute volume of soil specimens. However, these methods still have a major limitation in their inability to determine top and bottom boundaries between the soil specimen, and the top and bottom caps. This paper proposes a photogrammetry-based method to overcome this limitation by developing a mathematically rigorous technique to determine the upper and lower boundaries of soil specimens during triaxial testing. The photogrammetry technique was used to determine the orientations of the camera, and the shape and location of the acrylic cell. Multiple ray-tracings and least-square optimization techniques were also applied to obtain the coordinates of any point inside the triaxial cell, and thus back-calculate the upper and lower boundaries. With these boundaries and the side surface, a triangular surface mesh was constructed and the specimen volume was then calculated in both unconfined compression tests and triaxial tests. The calculation procedures are presented in detail with validation tests performed on a cylindrical specimen to evaluate the accuracy of the method. Results indicate that the accuracy of the proposed method is up to 0.023% in unconfined compression tests and 0.061% in triaxial tests.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0361-1981; 2169-4052

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2020 SAGE Publications, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2020