Research activities in geotechnical and geo-environmental engineering range from studies of the basic physics and chemistry of soil behaviour to applied field problems. The soil mechanics laboratories are equipped with the conventional permeability, direct shear, consolidation and triaxial systems necessary to determine the engineering properties of the materials under study. A computer controlled data acquisition system complements the test facilities. Research equipment includes controlled gradient consolidometers, a cyclic simple shear device, a stress controlled loading system for triaxial testing and triaxial cells designed to provide true three-dimensional testing of materials.
Research into the role of soil fabric in the physical and chemical behaviour of soils is made possible through the use of scanning electron microscope and X-ray diffraction facilities. A walk-in environmental chamber permits examination of the behaviour of frozen soils and studies of the mechanical properties of snow.
Subsurface contamination of soils and groundwater is an area of growing concern in our society. An increasing effort is being directed towards this area. Topics such as pollutant transport through soils, hazardous waste remediation, and physico-chemical and biological processes that affect the fate and mobility of pollutants are being studied. Analytical and experimental equipment for conducting these studies are housed in the environmental engineering laboratories.