ISO 11277:2009 specifies a basic method of determining the particle size distribution applicable to a wide range of mineral soil materials, including the mineral fraction of organic soils. It also offers procedures to deal with less common soils. ISO 11277:2009 has been developed largely for use in the field of environmental science, and its use in geotechnical investigations is something for which professional advice might be required.
A major objective of ISO 11277:2009 is the determination of enough size fractions to enable the construction of a reliable particle-size-distribution curve.
ISO 11277:2009 does not apply to the determination of the particle size distribution of the organic components of soil, i.e. the more or less fragile, partially decomposed, remains of plants and animals. It is also realized that the chemical pretreatments and mechanical handling stages in ISO 11277:2009 could cause disintegration of weakly cohesive particles that, from field inspection, might be regarded as primary particles, even though such primary particles could be better described as aggregates. If such disintegration is undesirable, then ISO 11277:2009 is not used for the determination of the particle size distribution of such weakly cohesive materials.