Geotechnical and Geophysical Properties and Processes Laboratory

Contact details


Matthew Kirkham



Our laboratories go beyond standard index tests for soils and weak rocks. Using new technologies we have developed more efficient apparatus to replace old or unsafe test standards. We also undertake experiments to quantify the controls of moisture content and porosity on soil consistency, strength, electrical and seismic geophysical properties.

The Geo-lab facility includes wet and dry sample storage and preparation of samples for testing in our geotechnical and geophysical laboratories.

Geotechnical laboratories

The Geotechnical Soil Laboratories are a comprehensive testing facility that includes both standard (e.g. BS1377) and specialised test equipment and forms part of the BGS’s laboratory research facilities. In-house designed equipment simplifies and improves standard, commercially available apparatus.

Soil testing facilities

  • GDS stress-path triaxial PC: computer-controlled, temperature-controlled testing (50–100 mm); local strain; mid-plain pore pressure measurement; CU; CD; CIU; SHANSEP; permeability; saturation; consolidation,;cyclic loading; creep testing on undisturbed, compacted, or remoulded specimens
  • triaxial: standard PC computer-logged testing (35–100 mm) UU, CU, CD, CIU; compressed-air system with low-friction cell
  • consolidation: 1D, PC-controlled oedometer testing (50–100 mm) with digital strain and load gauges; swelling tests, collapse tests; undisturbed, compacted, remoulded specimens (stresses to 3.0 MPa)
  • shear box: PC-logged testing (60–100 mm) on undisturbed, shear plane, or remoulded specimens; cut-plane and multi-reversal tests
  • ring shear: PC-logged testing (Bromhead); residual strength; remoulded specimens (200 g)
  • shrinkage limit (SHRiNKIT) (in-house method); remoulded, undisturbed or compacted specimens
  • 1D swelling pressure to BS1377 (1990)
  • 1D and 3D swelling strain to ISRM (1981)
  • soil suction tests: extractor plate and dew-point potentiometer methods; soil characteristic curve derivation; remoulded specimens
  • index testing to BS 1377 (1990): Atterberg limits; shrinkage limit; linear shrinkage; particle size; specific gravity; density; water content

Bespoke apparatus

Our facilities include bespoke apparatus, for example to automate some test procedures that formerly have either been labour intensive or have required for some highly specialised handling procedures.

Further information available at

Facility details

British Geological Survey (BGS)

Geotechnical and Geophysical Properties and Processes Laboratory

Nicker Hill, Keyworth

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