RMPL - Rock Mechanics and Physics Laboratory

Facility Location
City & country
Keyworth (United Kingdom)
Nicker Hill, Keyworth, Nottingham NG12 5GG, Regno Unito
Description & contacts of the access provider
Legal name of organisation
BGS - British Geological Survey, Natural Environment Research Council
Infrastructure contact - Primary contact
Marcus Dobbs
RICC contact - Secondary contact
Keith Bateman
Facility Availability
Unit of access
Availability per year
Min 4 weeks
Expected duration of single experiment:
4 weeks
Operational or other constraints
Specific risks:
Only trained BSG personnel are allowed to operate the Rock Testing System. BSG staff will therefore be provided to facilitate access.

The Rock Mechanics and Physics Laboratory (RMPL) undertakes research on the physical properties and behaviour of rock specifically for: planning, design and construction within the civil engineering sector; extraction and storage within the energy sector; developing our understanding of near-surface to shallow crustal earth processes in order to help predict and mitigate the effects of small and large scale geohazards. The RMPL lab 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, sonic velocity, permeability, porosity and density

State of the art, uniqueness, & specific advantages

RMPL is the home of BGS’s large scale rock deformation apparatus which is used to measure the physical properties and behaviour of rock when subjected to changes in pressure and temperature associated with near surface to shallow crustal conditions (~6 km). The system comprises an MTS 4.6 MN capacity servo-controlled hydraulic load frame, triaxial pressure vessel, confining pressure intensifier unit (140 MPa), a pore pressure intensifier unit (70 MPa total pressure and 35 MPa differential pressure) and heating system (200 °C). The rock deformation apparatus is able to make synchronous measurement of stress, strain, sonic velocity, acoustic emission and permeability during deformation on right-circular cylinder rock specimens with diameters up to 54 mm. A planned upgrade to this system to expand the acoustic emission measurement capability to 16 channels and provide acoustic emission tomography is scheduled for April 2016.

Scientific Environment

Research in this laboratory has been used to improve the understanding of material behaviour and processes related to the mechanical and physical properties of rocks, and hence contribute to process models and performance assessment related to CO2 storage, underground gas storage and other underground construction applications. Recent studies have focused on the geomechanical parameters of: reservoir (sandstone) and cap rocks (mudstone) from CCS sites in the North Seas as part of the EPSRC-funded CONTAIN project; underground cavern host rock (halite) for proposed underground compressed air storage as part of the EPSRCfunded IMAGES project; strength and deformability of the Montorfano Granite as part of the SAFER project; and measurement and characterisation of stress induced changes in the electric stress field of geological and man-made materials as part of the EPSRC-funded E-Stress project.


Other Large Initiatives
Other Large Initiatives

selected publications

Alodie Bubeck, Richard Walker, Dave Healy, Marcus Dobbs, Dave Holwell1 & Tara Stephens. ( 28 -29 October 2015)
¿Cómo se lava? How representative are “typical lavas” in volcanic stability models? The Geology of Geomechanics
The Geological Society, Burlington House London.
F. Bolognesi, S. Vinciguerra, A. Bistacchi and M. Dobbs (6 – 11 September. )
The Role of Phyllosilicate-rich Mylonitic Fabric on Deformation, Failure Mode and Fault Weakness: New Insights from Rock Deformation Laboratory Experiments
11th Euroconference on Rock Physics and Rock Mechanics. Ambleside, UK.
F. Agliardi, S. Vinciguerra, M. Dobbs and S. Zanchetta (6 – 11 September.)
Contrasting Failure Modes of Folded Gneiss Revealed by Mechanical, Microseismic and Microstructural Data
11th Euroconference on Rock Physics and Rock Mechanics. Ambleside, UK.
J. W. Archer, M. R. Dobbs, H. J. Reeves and R. J. Prance. (6 – 11 September)
Measuring Stress in Rock Using Electric Potential Sensor Technology
11th Euroconference on Rock Physics and Rock Mechanics. Ambleside, UK.
M. R. Dobbs, A. Ougier-Simonin, C. C. Graham, R. J. Cuss and J. F. Harrington (6 – 11 September)
CONTAIN: The Geomechanics of Candidate CCS Reservoirs and Seals
11th Euroconference on Rock Physics and Rock Mechanics. Ambleside, UK.
A. Castagna, S. Vinciguerra, N. De Paola, S. Nielsen, P. Benson, R. J. Walker and A. Ougier-Simonin (6 – 11 September)
Frictional and Mechanical Properties of Volcanic and Sedimentary Rocks
Application to Mt. Etna (Sicily). 11th Euroconference on Rock Physics and Rock Mechanics. Ambleside, UK
Federico Agliardi, Sergio Vinciguerra, Marcus R Dobbs, Stefano Zanchetta (04 April 2015)
Role of folded anisotropic fabric in the failure mode of gneiss: new insights from mechanical, microseismic and microstructural laboratory data
EGU General Assembly, Vienna
Agliardi Federico, Vinciguerra Sergio, Dobbs Marcus, Zanchetta Stefano (15-19 December 2014)
Deformation and Brittle Failure of Folded Gneiss in Triaxial Compression: Failure Modes, Acoustic Signatures and Microfabric Controls
AGU Fall meeting 2014, San Francisco
Bolognesi Francesca, Bistacchi Andrea, Dobbs Marcus, Vinciguerra Sergio (15-19 December 2014)
How does Brittle Deformation of Phyllosilicate-rich Mylonites Work? Implications for Fault Weakness
AGU Fall meeting 2014, San Francisco
Faoro I., Vinciguerra S., Marone C., Elsworth D., Schubnel A. (2013)
Linking permeability and mechanical damage for basalt from Mt Etna Volcano, Geophysical Research Letters
VOL. 40, 1–6, doi:10.1002/grl.50436
Aydin, A., Dobbs, M.R., Reeves, H.J., Kirkham, M.P., Graham, C.C., Jefferson, I. ( 2013)
Electric field in compressed concrete using the Electric Potential Sensor
Second Conference on Smart Monitoring, Assessment and Rehabilitation of Civil Structures. 9 – 11th September 2013. Istanbul, Turkey
Aydin, A., Dobbs, M.R., Reeves, H.J., Kirkham, M.P., and Graham, C.C. (23 – 26th June 2013)
Stress induced electric field measurements of different rock lithology using the Electric Potential Sensor
47th US Rock Mechanics / Geomechanics Symposium. San Francisco, USA
Aydin, A., Dobbs, M.R., Reeves, H.J., Graham, C.C., and Kirkham, M.P. ( 21 – 26th September 2013)
Measuring stress induced electric field in Sandstone and Granite using the Electric Potential Sensor
EUROCK 2013. Wroclaw, Poland.