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Facilities and Equipment

GSL Facilities and Equipment


The ERDC Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory operates a number of unique laboratory and research facilities. Among these are the world's most powerful centrifuge dedicated to engineering and scientific research and the Department of Defense's lead pavements research facility for roadways, permanent airfields, contingency airfields, and railroads.

To view descriptions of these unique facilities, follow the links below. Additional information can be requested by e-mail to GSL-Info.

Centrifuge Research Center

The U.S. Army Centrifuge provides researchers an economical approach for evaluating alternative designs, investigating complex problem areas, and validating numerical methods with instrumented physical models. The Centrifuge supports research investigations in the fields of geotechnical, structural, hydraulic, environmental, physics of frozen soil and water, and coastal engineering. Studies are possible under climatic conditions ranging from desert to polar to ocean regions. The combination of large mass and high acceleration makes this the most powerful centrifuge in the world. The centrifuge has a radius of 6.5 meters and has been tested to its maximum payload of 8,000 kg at 143 g's acceleration, decreasing to 2,000 kg at 350 g's. Centrifuge modeling allows users to investigate a wide range of field problems under laboratory conditions and to generate data quickly, economically, and accurately in order to solve real-world problems. Request more info.

Concrete Research Facility

This is a 20,000-sq ft laboratory that supports research on all aspects of concrete and materials technology. The staff of this facility offer wide-ranging expertise in materials characterization, design, construction practices, and forensic investigations. Applications involve the selection of materials for special purposes, development of construction procedures, and specification of methods and materials for repair. Equipment that is available for chemical and physical research on cements and pozzolans includes a high-resolution color video image analyzer, a variable-pressure scanning electron microscope, X-ray diffraction and fluorescence equipment, and a cyclic corrosion exposure system. Engineering mechanics investigations are also conducted using a high-capacity structural floor and several dynamic programmable closed-loop universal-loading devices; sonic, ultrasonic, electric, and magnetic devices for nondestructive materials testing; and a state-of-the-art creep facility. Request more info.

geodynamics research facility graphicGeodynamics Research Facility

This GSL facility has evolved over the last three decades to support survivability and protective structures research. Experimental devices include three gas-driven loaders that provide peak-applied forces of 0.45, 2.3, and 8.9 MN in either a quasi-static mode or a dynamic mode with controlled rise times between 3 and 100 msec. Several pressure vessels having peak pressure limits of 7 MPa to1 GPa accommodate cylindrical specimens with diameters ranging from 152 to 51 mm. Quasi-static servo-controlled experiments are performed with the Facility's 600-MPa pressure vessel and 8.9-MN loader. Cubical specimens can be loaded to peak stress levels of 70 MPa under true 3-D stress states. In the new split Hopkinson pressure bar facility, specimens 12.5 or 19 mm in diameter can be dynamically loaded while applying hydrostatic confining stresses between 0 and 200 MPa. Request more info.

Geosciences Research, Applications, and Test Facility

This facility provides the most extensive near-surface geophysics equipment and applications capability in the Department of Defense (DoD). Research conducted in this facility specializes in engineering, environmental, archeological, and groundwater geophysics and geology. The facility supports the DoD requirements for foundation investigations, installation restoration, cultural resource assessments, military groundwater supply, tunnel detection, and environmental site characterization. In addition, a 15,000-sq ft Engineering Geophysics Training Facility, consisting of metallic and nonmetallic targets buried at various depths and orientations, is used for evaluating geophysical instruments and providing hands-on training with the equipment. Request more info.

Treat Island facility graphicNatural Weathering Exposure Station–Treat Island, Maine

The Corps of Engineers' Treat Island Natural Weathering Exposure Station is a long-term natural weathering facility used to study concrete durability. Located on the Bay of Fundy near Eastport, ME, this site inherently imposes a unique combination of natural severe environmental conditions, ideally representative of severe field exposure conditions. During the winter, Treat Island test specimens are subjected to between 100 and 160 freeze-thaw cycles. Cyclic inundation of saltwater and air-drying also simultaneously subject test specimens to chloride intrusion, wetting and drying, and abrasion-erosion. Over 40 active research programs are currently under way. Request more info.

Pavement Materials Lab

This 25,000-sq state-of-the-art facility contains the Department of Defense-unique Joint Sealant Laboratory and an Automated Data Acquisition System for acquiring rheological data on creep, strength, resilient moduli, and fatigue of a variety of paving materials. This is a highly adaptable facility that supports physical, chemical, and mechanical characterizations of pavement and construction materials using state-of-the-art equipment for physicochemical analysis of bituminous materials and mixtures, multiaxial testing equipment, environmentally controlled testing chambers, and rapid and cyclic loading dynamic testing systems. Request more info.

Soil and Rock Mechanics Lab

The 10,000-sq ft soil mechanics research facility is the largest in the Department of Defense and has a loading capability of 250,000 lb on triaxial specimens up to 15 in. in diameter. Also included are direct shear devices for 3- to 24-in. specimens, automated consolidometers, and rock-testing capabilities including anchor pullout tests. Request more info.

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Updated: Feb 2010  

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