Energy and Climate

Making predictions of rock mass response and fluid flow through rock masses requires quantitative models of the governing deformation and fracture processes. Building these models, and performing analytic and numerical design calculations from the models requires information about specific rock properties. The Geomechanics Laboratory enables you to measure rock properties under a wide range of simulated service conditions up to very high pressures and complex load paths. Staff at the laboratory have also developed independent experiments that evaluate model generalizations, for example: how to generalize two-dimensional information to a three-dimensional model. They also have experiments that determine the accuracy of design procedures in the laboratory.

Supported by combinations of laboratory work and in situ observations, the Geomechanics Laboratory emphasizes the following activities:

  • Characterization of natural fracture systems
  • Identification and modeling of rock deformation and failure processes
  • Laboratory determinations of thermo-mechanical and transport properties of competent rock and natural fractures, including studies of coupled effects
  • Extrapolation of laboratory measurements to field conditions
  • In situ stress measurements and evaluation of in situ boundary conditions
  • Laboratory and bench-scale validation studies

These capabilities make this laboratory useful for any of the following applications:

  • Underground construction
  • Mining
  • Oil and gas production/reservoir management
  • Hydrocarbon and compressed air storage
  • Hazardous waste disposal
  • Fluid flow and contaminant transport
  • Laboratory and bench-scale evaluation of geo-technical design procedures

The following tools allow the Geomechanics Laboratory to measure rock properties under a wide range of simulated service conditions up to very high pressures and complex load paths:

  • 0.1-5 MN servo controlled testing machines
  • 1 MN/10 kN-M normal load/torsion testing machine
  • 70 MPa -1 GPa pressure vessels (15 cm maximum cavity diameter)
  • True tri-axial testing capability
  • Hopkinson/Kolsky bar for intermediate rate testing (2.5 cm sample diameter)
  • Tri-axial creep apparatus (10-10 s-1 strain-rate resolution)
  • Elevated temperature testing to 400°C
  • Permeability apparatus with hydrostatic and deviatory loading capabilities
  • Thermal properties (thermal expansion and conductivity) testing up to 300°C
  • Non-destructive testing facilities including real-time acoustic emissions location system
  • Laser surface profiler (10 Am resolution)
  • Petrographic laboratory
  • Specialty machining and sample preparation facilities

Availability

This fully operational facility is available for characterizing the following materials:

  • Rocks
  • Granular geomaterials
  • Concretes
  • Some ceramics
  • Foams
  • Composite materials

To make arrangements to use the Geomechanics Laboratory, contact the user liaison.

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