Civil Engineering and Geosciences Geotechnics and Structures Research Laboratories

The Geotechnical and Structural Engineering Group is extremely well provisioned with laboratory testing facilities with a wide range of measurement and testing equipment used in our teaching, research and commercial activities. Our experimental capabilities range from small scale material testing, through larger scale experiments and scale model testing, to full scale field testing. These activities also benefit from the excellent support of our highly experienced technical staff and a very well equipped Workshop.

Services Offered

The laboratories are equipped to enable a range of standard geotechnical, structures and materials testing in addition to specialist research activities including, but not limited to, small strain behaviour, seismic/cyclic loading and structural fabric testing.
They are well equipped with modern testing equipment and are used to undertake contract research projects and also for some contract service analyses that are compatible with our current research.

Specialist facilities include:

  • 130kN Bi-axial tension/shear rig - an in house custom built rig specifically designed for the testing of composite materials and particularly bi-axial loading of woven and non-woven structural fabrics.
  • Dynamic Triaxial Testing - this apparatus can deliver monotonic or cyclic loading to simulate earthquake and other cyclic/dynamic loading of soils.
  • Digital Image Correlation - state of the art equipment provides the capability to measure shape, displacement and strain in either two or three dimensions. The system can analyse specimens ranging from <1mm to >10m, maintaining great levels of accuracy whilst displaying the real-time analysis results. Within the lab at Newcastle University, it is used primarily to determine the strain characteristics of metal, soil, fabric and composite samples.
  • Shaking Table - can be used to impose seismic loading on model structures and foundations. Data from real seismic events can be uploaded in the control system to recreate real earthquake conditions. Displacements and accelerations within the model structures are monitored during testing to assess performance.
  • Photogrammetry - utilises high-end digital image capturing hardware to further analyse the material characteristics of structural and composite fabrics.
  • High Pressure Triaxial Testing machines - can be used to conduct triaxial, effective stress analyses on weak rocks (mudstones, shales etc.) where plastic flow may be expected.
  • Local Strain Measurement - Used to measure small strain behaviour in soils and to determine their initial stiffness properties
  • Thermal and hydraulic Conductivity Testing Equipment - used to determine thermal and hydraulic characteristics of soils and rocks, this apparatus has applications associated with energy piles, buried pipelines, geothermal energy, etc.
  • Electro-Kinetic-Geosynthetics (EKG) - EKG has applications in material dewatering (including sewage and other wastes), ground consolidation, sports turf and composting. Specialist cells developed in the laboratory can be used for determination of electro-osmotic permeability, flow rate and gas evolution.
  • Large testing frames - (Avery-Denison 250kN, 1000kN and 5000kN tension/compression loading machines)
  • Heavy Reaction Frame and Strong Floor - this highly adjustable system gives us the ability to apply loads in a wide range of configurations using single and double acting hydraulic rams capable of providing both compressive and tensile forces up to 1300kN. Additionally, these rams can be used in parallel to provide many loads simultaneously. A servo-controlled actuator system allows us to apply complex load histories including cyclic and full dynamic testing.
  • Full scale embankment facility - The GEST groups operates a fully instrumented, climate controlled 90m long embankment for slope stability and biological research.

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