Rock Mechanics and Physics Laboratory

BGS Science Facilities — Engineering and Geotechnical Capability

Rock mechanics and physics laboratory

The Rock Mechanics and Physics Laboratory (RMPL) undertakes research on the properties and behaviour of rocks and geomaterials at near-surface to shallow crustal depth for georesources (energy; storage), geoengineering (tunnelling) and geohazards (faults; earthquakes).

Beneath our feet, rocks continuously deform, slide and move differently across a large spectrum of environmental conditions (pressure; temperature; fluid chemistry, etc.) and time — very slowly in creep mode for instance, or very rapidly during an earthquake. These coupled processes take place at all scales, from atomic level mineral/fluid interfaces to continental faults, mostly at inaccessible, deep locations precluding direct observations.

Laboratory capabilities

RMPL is the home of BGS’s large-scale rock deformation apparatus and specialises in standard (ISRM and ASTM) and bespoke geomechanical and rock physics testing.


  • Strength (triaxial and uniaxial)
  • Deformability
  • Thermal properties
  • Geophysical properties
  • Permeability
  • Porosity
  • Density


  • MTS 815 Rock Testing System (4.6 MN capacity servo-controlled, hydraulic load frame)
  • Servo-controlled confining pressure up to 140 MPa
  • Servo-controlled pore fluid pressure up to 100 MPa (water and brines)
  • Heating system up to 180°C
  • Four internal load cells (from 250 to 2600 kN)
  • Direct contact axial and circumferential strain gauges (extensometer type)
  • Ultrasonic measurements (up to 18 electrical feedthroughs)
  • Point Load Strength Index

A full list is available on the RMPL ResearchGate page.

  • European Union’s Horizon 2020 ERA-NET Co-fund ACT (Accelerating CCS Technologies) programme (phase 2) REX-CO2: reusing existing wells for CO2 storage operations (2019–2022).
  • University of Leicester CSE studentships: the physical and mechanical properties of natural fault zones in basaltic volcanic rocks (2018–2021).
  • European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme European Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage Laboratory Research Infrastructure (ECCSEL) ERIC
  • University of Nottingham GeoEnergy Research Centre programme: impact of impurities and salt structures on environmental risks of gas storage in salt caverns (2016–2020).
  • Petromaks2/PROMETHEUS: Microfracturing in Black Shales and Their Transport Properties (Norwegian Research Council / PI: Prof. F. Renard) (2017–2021).
  • European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme EPOS IP-the European Plate Observing System, Implementation Phase, Grant Agreement No. 676564; Thematic Core Service Multi-Scale Laboratories (2015–2019).

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