Research Facilities

The Geotechnical Centre is located in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering in the Markin/CNRL Natural Resources Engineering Facility (NREF). With over 300,000 square feet of floor area, NREF houses 78 research laboratories, 26 specialized instructional laboratories, and many high-tech lecture rooms.

Our commitment to research excellence has led to the establishment of several specialized facilities, which are well tailored for the innovative research programs led by the Geotechnical Centre. In addition to the specific research programs listed in the left-side menu, the following are our unique research laboratories:

  • The CFI/I2P2-funded Geotechnical & Geoenvironmental Engineering Cold Regions Research Facility is ideal for conducting research related to cold regions engineering. The facility’s infrastructure consists of six cold rooms that can provide temperature environments down to -40°C. This facility provides researchers with the ability to reproduce extreme conditions and research the effect of cold weather on infrastructure.
  • The CFI-funded Applied Environmental Geochemistry Research Facility is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies to conduct sample testing for the prevention, assessment and remediation of soil, groundwater and surface water contamination. The laboratory equipment provides our researchers with the ability to quantify organic compounds, pesticides, ions and trace metals in soil and groundwater in the parts per billion and for certain compounds in the parts per trillion.
  • The $4.3-million CFI/AET-funded Geomechanical Reservoir Experimental Facility (GeoREF) enables research on resource recovery in unconventional hydrocarbon reservoirs. GeoREF is configured with systems that can obtain thermal-hydraulic-mechanical and acoustic constitutive properties of reservoir geological materials up to temperatures of 350°C. The high stress, high pressure and high temperature axial testing systems are capable of applying axial forces up to 600 kN and pressures up to 70 MPa. 
  • GeoREF recently has procured a new 50 g-tonne beam centrifuge facility. This facility houses a 2-m platform radius beam centrifuge, the first of its kind in western Canada, with a maximum acceleration level of 280 rpm (150 g) and maximum payload of 500 kg.

  • The Canadian Rail Research Laboratory (CaRRL) is equipped with two abrasion testing apparatuses to evaluate the abrasion resistance and toughness of aggregate materials used for railways and pavement. CaRRL researchers also use a variety of advanced field sensors and monitoring technologies, including 3D ground penetrating radar, LiDAR (produces 3D models from scanned images), a geographic information system facility to manage field data and an instrumented rail car to measure track deflection.
  • The $2.2 million Oil Sands Tailings Research Facility (OSTRF) is located in Devon, Alberta, and is dedicated to cross-disciplinary oil sands tailings research. The OSTRF enables fundamental exploration of new concepts which then can be tested at the pilot scale ultimately providing the parameters to assist with the design of a field scale pilot and/or field demonstration.
  • The Waste Mine Laboratory offers an extensive facility for classical geotechnical testing in mine waste materials as well as advanced capacity in unsaturated soil mechanics and slurry characterization.
  • Our computing facilities and software are of the quality expected at a top-notch university. Moreover, a strategic collaborative agreement has been established with Itasca Consulting Group Inc. for access to their commercial software and the training of researchers. Itasca develops highly specialized software that is uniquely suitable for structure interaction problems under dynamic loading conditions.