UMass Geomechanics

Geomechanics Facilities

This page is a bit out of date though the basics components are still here. You can see a fun video tour of the lab with recent upgrades at this link,

1.Physical Modeling Lab

The lab is equipped with up-to-date technology to run innovative physical models that simulate crustal deformation.

At the core of the lab is a computer-controlled deformation apparatus that is composed of two plates, one movable and the other stationary. Two orthogonal and independent computer-controlled step motors control the movement of the movable plate. The computer distributes motion on the two motors to reproduce the desired displacement trajectory. The apparatus can simulate any kind of geological setting (pure extension, compression and strike-slip, as well as transtension, transpression and inversion).

\laser scanner
comp Hardware includes: 1 3D laser scanner, 1 PC, 1 video camera and full equipment for photo taking and editing. The 3D laser scanner allows for tracking differences in elevation in the order of 100 Microns. Typical models are a quarter million points, after oversampling and optimization. The custom-built PC with 4Gb of RAM, a 256 Mb Nvidia GeForce 7300GT for fast data acquisition and 3D image. The computer is also equipped software for movie editing (Adobe Premiere) and compression (AutoDesk Cleaner XL 1.5), photo editing (Adobe Creative Suite). The video camera (Canon Elura) is supplemented by two spotlights and tripods to ensure for homogeneous lighting of the model surface.

Recently we have added Particle Image Velocometry capabilities to the lab.  With a Canon 3s digital SLR camera (see above) and PIVLab matlab plug in we can track the displacement of sand particles distributed on the surface of the claybox experiments.  This provides complete measurement of the strain field throughout the experiment and facilitates comparison of analog exeriments to numerical simulations.

An uniaxial compression rig is regularly used in undergradaute and graduate courses to demonstrate rock strength testing.

lab The lab is supplied with wet kaolin clay and associated equipment for mixing and measuring undrained shear strength, density and water content. A variety of rubber sheeting and silicone putties are available for specific experimental boundary conditions. The environmental conditions (temperature and humidity) of the room are monitored and maintained.

2. Mapping

Mapping equipment includes a total station with digital data output, a portable, sub-meter precision receiver for the Global Positioning System (GPS), two Schmidt hammers for rock strength testing and other standard surveying and mapping equipment schmidt

3. Geomechanics Computational Lab

The Geomechanics Laboratory contains equipment for 3D data visualization, geomechanical computations as well as geologic mapping.  Computational hardware includes 4 workstations (1 windows, 1 mac and 5 Linux). Each graduate student has at one linux workstation at their desk in addition to their own personal computer. The windows, mac and linux workstations have varying degrees of computational power and are used for model generation, running models and analysis of analog modeling data or model results. Commercial and academic Boundary Element Method (BEM) and Finite Element Method (FEM) codes including Poly3D (BEM), Fric2D (BEM) and Gale (FEM produced by CIG), are used for modeling of fault interaction.  Three-dimensional fault geometries are constructed and refined using Midland Valley’s Move suite of software.  Three-dimensional visualization and analysis of model results and experimental data is facilitated with Matlab, Move and Generic Mapping Tool (GMT) software.  Numerous vector and raster editing programs are also installed on various systems including Adobe creative suite professional.  Several of these computers are also outfitted with Microsoft office and Adobe products for data analysis and report preparation.

4.Digital Mapping and Modeling Lab


The shared teaching and research facility has:

  • 16 (sixteen) 2.7 GHz 27" iMacs with 12 GB RAM and an extra monitor on each
  • Linux based file server (Supermicro AS-2021M-UR w/ 6 1TBDiskk Drives)
  • Smart Board with Short Throw Projector (at left)
  • Color Printer.

All software is reset nightly using radmind. The macs inlcude a variety of software including VMware, which permits running windows and unix software.