Particle size distributions by laser diffraction: sensitivity of granular matter strength to analytical operating procedures
Abstract. We tested laser diffraction particle size analysis in poorly coherent carbonate platform cataclastic breccias and unfaulted quartz-rich eolian sands, representing low- and high-strength granular materials, respectively. We used two different instruments with different sample dispersion and pumping systems and several wet analytical procedures that included different pump speeds, measurement precision tests with and without sample ultrasonication, and different dispersant liquids. Results of our work indicate that high strength material is not strongly affected by analytical operating procedures, whereas low strength materials are very sensitive to the pump speed, ultrasonication intensity, and measurement run time. To reduce such a data variability, we propose a workflow of analytical tests preliminary to the set up of the most appropriate SOP.