Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Labs

The geotechnical/geoenvironmental research area includes the Geotechnical/Geoenvironmental Systems Laboratory and the Geotechnical/Geoenvironmental Materials Laboratory. The systems laboratory is built around two test chambers that, in combination, provide a very unique testing environment for large-scale model and prototype-scale testing.

One of the chambers is a fluidized sand bed 10 feet in diameter and 20 feet in depth. The 10-foot-diameter chamber provides a uniform geologic environment that can be returned to initial conditions for subsequent testing. The second chamber is 7 feet deep with a rectangular plan area of 12 feet by 9 feet. This pit was designed to enable a wide variety of experimentation involving compacted soils. Each of the two chambers have access to the outdoors by rolling overhead doors, which are supported by a 6-ton overhead crane that traverses the 38-foot by 32-foot laboratory.
Both chambers have access via hydraulic pressure lines to a closed-loop testing facility. Hydraulic actuators of 22 kips and 55 kips and reaction frames can be positioned over either of the test chambers or over the reinforced concrete strong floor. Individual anchor points on the floor, spaced on a 3-foot by 3-foot grid, are capable of supporting 50 kips in uplift.

Adjacent to the large-scale testing facility is the 1,000-square-foot Geotechnical/Geoenvironmental Materials Laboratory used for small-scale testing, including equipment for material characterization as well as triaxial (cyclic and monotonic), direct simple shear, resonant column, resilient modulus, hydraulic conductivity, and consolidation testing; all testing apparatuses are equipment with bender elements to assess shear wave velocity. Both laboratories are supplied with instrument-quality pressurized air, potable water, outlets to a computer network for data collection, and appropriate electrical service.

The facilities and equipment within the geotechnical research laboratories provide unique capabilities for large-scale and prototype-scale testing of individual components, soil-structure interaction problems, pavement materials and systems, and the behavior of buried structures and geo-systems.