The test uses a thick-walled sample tube, with an outside diameter of 50.8 mm and an inside diameter of 35 mm, and a length of around 650 mm. This is driven into the ground at the bottom of a borehole by blows from a slide hammer with a mass of 63.5 kg (140 lb) falling through a distance of 760 mm (30 in). The sample tube is driven 150 mm into the ground and then the number of blows needed for the tube to penetrate each 150 mm (6 in) up to a depth of 450 mm (18 in) is recorded. The sum of the number of blows required for the second and third 6 in. of penetration is termed the “standard penetration resistance” or the “N-value”. In cases where 50 blows are insufficient to advance it through a 150 mm (6 in) interval the penetration after 50 blows is recorded. The blow count provides an indication of the density of the ground, and it is used in many empirical geotechnical engineering formule.
SPT N-values are an indication of the relative density of cohesionless soils and the consistency of cohesive soil. Table 1 shows N-value ranges correlated to the relative density of sands and the consistency of fine grained soils. It is emphasized that these correlations are unreliable for gravels, silts and clays and should serve only as crude estimates for these materials.