The geomechanics laboratory is primarily used for research applications, and is equipped with a cluster of advanced testing equipment suitable for characterization of soils and geosynthetics under static, cyclic, and dynamic applications. The laboratory includes a displacement-controlled triaxial loading frames with a capacity of 4 kN. The laboratory contains 4 conventional triaxial cells that can be used to measure the shear strength of saturated and unsaturated soils under different pressure ranges with specimen diameters ranging from 35 to 150 mm. The state of stress can be controlled with pressure control panels or stepper-motor driven flow pumps. The laboratory contains specialized triaxial cells for investigation of shear strength at low confining pressures. The laboratory includes a cubical cell used to control the principal stresses applied to a cubical specimen of soil, rock, or concrete, with proportional or non-proportional loading under static or cyclic conditions. The cell has has been adapted to evaluate thermally induced water flow in unsaturated soils and to characterize thermally induced volume change in soils under different states of stress. A full suite of soil dynamics equipment is available, including a cyclic triaxial cell with local strain measurement capabilities, a resonant column device for unsaturated soils with flow pump suction control, and bender elements for pulse-wave testing.
The laboratory also includes specialized devices developed to characterize the thermal properties of soils, concrete, and rock. This includes a single-sided drainage oedometer with temperature control to measure thermal-induced consolidation of soils, a triaxial cell incorporating a thermal-needle to measure thermal conductivity as a function of void ratio, and a triaxial cell with vapor pressure control for measurement of the strength of soils under both low and high suction at high temperatures, A pullout box with temperature control can be used to evaluate the interface shear and pullout resistance of geosynthetics in unsaturated soils.
Custom-made testing equipment used for studying flow phenomena in soils is also available in the laboratory. Three flow pumps for precisely controlling flow rates are connected to modified triaxial cells in which various tests involving saturated, unsaturated, and multiphase flow can be performed. Typical tests performed in this laboratory include hydraulic conductivity of saturated and unsaturated soils, seepage-induced consolidation of soft soils, and multiphase flow experiments. This laboratory is also equipped with conventional unsaturated soils testing equipment for measurement of the soil water retention curve and hydraulic conductivity function (rigid and flexible wall pressure chamber outflow devices and hanging column devices).