Physical Property Research Facility

Test tank and transducer positioning system
Presence of mineshaft causes low velocity pipe in 3D velocity matrix

The Geophysical Property Research Facility (GPRF) focusses on the measurement of physical properties of the UK's solid and superficial geology, and, the application of this information for the prediction and spatial mapping of materials, material properties and temporal changes in these properties. This information is vital to our understanding of the sub-surface processes controlling the performance of the major geological groups and formations of strategic importance to UK engineering. The GPRF provides data and systems that underpin research by the Geo-Engineering Properties and Processes team to study the role of material properties and rates of property changes in the performance of natural and engineered environments and the development of geohazards such as landslides, shrink-swell, subsidence, natural and anthropogenic voids.

Ultrasonics Research Laboratory

BGS is developing improved material properties characterisation using coded acoustic signals and making advances in signal delivery and processing strategies for improved spatial resolution and physical property measurement. Rock properties of particular interest are pore morphology, the size, nature and extent of fractures and fracture networks, surface texture effects and sediment properties. Advancement in the characterisation and resolution of these features will have wide ranging applications in the hydrocarbon, water, geotechnical, and waste management industries.

Geophysical Properties Research Laboratory

Work in this laboratory includes investigating the dependence of physical properties upon primary geotechnical property changes such as porosity, moisture content, and also secondary geotechnical property changes such as strength. These studies underpin the development of new approaches for spatial mapping of moisture content and pore pressure using resistivity as a proxy and support the use of automated time lapse geophysical tomography to study the role of 4D moisture movement in the triggering of failures in natural and engineered environments.

Testing the strength of engineered fill using the downhole pressure meter
Robotised probes used for electrical imaging of fine scale structure

East Leake Embankment Research Site

NBGS is using this research sdite to investigate horizon technologies to map material properties and assess the condition and performance of engineered fill. Current studies include fill stiffness mapping using continuous surface wave and surface movement tracking using interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR). These studies focus on how fill condition is affected by the heterogeneity of fill materials and on how performance is affected by the engineering interfaces between different fill materials.

Geohazard monitoring and imaging

BGS is developing and testing new instrumentation and techniques to locate and characterise geohazards, such as mineshafts and understand the processes leading to instability, such as metastable collapse in weakly cemented fabrics, and the development of slip planes in mudrocks.


Please contact Dr David Gunn for further information