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 geo-resources (energy, storage), geo-engineering (tunnelling) and geo-hazards (faults, earthquakes). Beneath our feet, rocks continuously deform, slide and move differently across a large spectrum of environmental conditions (pressure, temperature, fluid chemistry…) and time – very slowly in creep mode for instance, or very rapidly during an earthquake. These coupled processes take place at all scales, from the atomic level mineral-fluid interfaces to continental faults, mostly at inaccessible, deep location 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, including measurement of strength (triaxial and uniaxial), deformability, thermal properties, geophysical properties, permeability, porosity and density.

Lab capabilities include the following:

  • 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
  • 4 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

  • 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 N° 676564; Thematic Core Service Multi Scale Laboratories. 2015–2019

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