Soils Lab

Director: Dr. Mark Bowers

The Soils Mechanics Laboratory, located in 430 Rhodes Hall, is a spacious, well-lighted, air-conditioned laboratory equipped with a complete line of equipment necessary for conducting the basic laboratory tests by up to four groups of five students each at a time.  Large tables are available for student study and analysis as is adequate counter top space.  Blackboard space is plentiful.  The laboratory is wired to the College of Engineering network.  Pentium computers and laser printers are available in the laboratory.  The laboratory is a true workstation where students are taught the principles in the front section of the room, and then turn around and perform the experiments in the back of the lab space.  Equipment is available for the following routine tests as part of the Soil Mechanics Laboratory: mechanical or sieve analysis, Atterberg limits, soil moisture-dry unit weight relationships (Proctors or compaction tests), permeability or hydraulic conductivity, consolidation, unconfined compression, direct shear, triaxial shear, and California bearing ratio.

The Soil Mechanics Laboratory has the following major equipment:
  • Direct shear apparatus for the testing of cohesive soils
  • Triaxial shear testing system for saturating/consolidating three specimens at any one time and shear testing one sample at a time
  • Constant temperature baths for hydrometer testing
  • Cyclic triaxial testing system
  • Unconfined compression testing apparatus.  
  • 10-cm diameter flexible wall permeameters
  • 10-cm double-ring rigid wall compaction mold permeameters
  • Bladder accumulators (for hydraulic compatibility testing)
  • Dlurry permeameter (for hydraulic conductivity testing of soil slurries)
  • Free swell apparatus
  • API filter press (for testing filter cake formation in soil-water slurries)
  • Marsh funnel (for testing viscosity of soil-water slurries)
  • Hanging column apparatus (for measuring soil water characteristic curves of coarse grained soils and geotextiles)
  • Pore pressure transducers
  • pH/ISE/EC meter (to measure concentration of ions in solution, electrical conductivity, and pH)
    The Soil Mechanics Laboratory is also equipped for limited asphalt testing.  To conduct more extensive asphalt tests, the students are taken to a state-of-the-art Asphalt Testing Laboratory operated by a private materials testing company

Soil characterization equipment
Students measuring soil compressive properties
Overview picture of the soils lab