Rock Mechanics and Ground Control Laboratories

Mining Engineering Department has four separate laboratories available to support the undergraduate and graduate, education and research capabilities in the area of Rock Mechanics and Ground Control. These are: 

The Rock Mechanics Laboratories are primarily designed to support the undergraduate laboratories experiments in the ground control and rock mechanics course (MinE 411). Students prepare rock/coal specimens in the Specimen Preparation Laboratory using the core drills, cutting saws and automated grinding machine. After preparation, the specimens are strain-gaged in the Direct Shear Testing Laboratory and then students test the specimen in the Rock Mechanics Laboratory utilizing modern facilities such as the Servo-controlled MTS (Material Testing System) and programmable automated data acquisition system. The undergraduate students also have hands-on labs for; in-direct tensile tests, point load tests and slake durability tests in the rock mechanics laboratories, as well as observing and analyzing the data for direct shear and tri-axial tests (performed by the instructor and teaching assistants).

The Rock Mechanics Laboratories also support advance laboratory experiments for graduate studies and research such as: direct shear testing, tri-axial testing, and creep testing.

An image of the MTS Test Fram


The main rock mechanics laboratory contains the MTS testing machine for uniaxial testing of rock cores, and it is the workhorse of the rock mechanics labs. This machine is a MTS Model 440, servo-controlled testing system with a load capacity of 200,000 lbs. The machine has an update data acquisition system that is interfaced with MTS test software. The software additionally has separate geotechnical software that can be programmed to perform a suite of tests. The system has variety of sensors attached to the data acquisition systems. For projects the rock specimens can be tested by mounting sophisticated deformation sensors that allows for advanced testing of the specimen. For undergraduate and graduate students, the students mount strain gages on the specimen and then study the rock behavior under various load conditions. A separate strain recorder is attached with the test frame and is coupled with the data acquisition system for recording the data in the computer.

MTS Test Frame

This laboratory also contains some of the smaller testing equipment including:

Trixial Testing Laboratory

One of the newest laboratories is the triaxial testing laboratory. This lab contains the new (2011) GCTS RTX 1500, Triaxial, High Pressure High Temperature testing machine. This machine is capable of supplying 30,000 psi confining pressure and 200°C to a NX size cylindrical rock specimen. It is also capable of performing pore pressure tests. The machine has a data acquisition system that is coupled with a customized software for controlling the vertical pressure/displacement, confining pressure and temperature, and mechanical strain measure equipment for within the pressure cell. The software can be configured to perform a suite of tests for example multistage triaxial tests and long term creep tests.