A specially designed instrument was used to determine the in situ bearing capacity at 12 sites in the carbonate sand seaward of the Florida Keys. The resulting data set not only represents unique information in such an environment, but also provided an opportunity to determine whether bearing capacity is controlled by any specific property of the calcarenites, or, conversely, whether the bearing-capacity value could be used as an index of a particular substrate characteristic.
The in sltu measurements were made in several subenvironments in order to bracket the variability of sediment properties throughout the area. Samples were collected at each bearing-capacity test site and w .ere analyzed for selected geological and geotechnical properties, including texture, grain shapes, and biological constituents. No relationship was found between bearing capacity and any of the analyzed properties of the sediment. Although many salient characteristics of calcarenites exist, at the stress levels used in this study their influence is either masked owing to the complex interaction of properties that leads to a specific bearing-capacity value or, at least in these sediments, is absent.