Keyworth, Nottingham, UK, United Kingdom


RMPL (UK1.2)

Rock Mechanics and Physics Laboratory

The Rock Mechanics and Physics Laboratory (RMPL) undertakes research on the behaviour of rocks  and their physical properties specifically for: extraction and storage within the energy sector; understanding of near-surface to shallow crustal earth processes to mitigate the effects of small and large scale geohazards; planning, design and construction within the civil engineering sector.

The RMPL specialises in standard (ISRM and ASTM) and bespoke testing of geomaterials at simulated 0-6km depth conditions (pressure, temperature, pore fluid), including measurement of strength (triaxial and uniaxial), deformability, transport properties (permeability, thermal properties), geophysical properties (elastic wave velocity, acoustic emission…), porosity and density.

Areas of research




State of the Art, uniqueness & specific advantages

Re-created in 2012, the RMPL is the home of BGS’s large scale rock deformation apparatus which is used to measure the physical properties and behaviour of rock when subjected to changes in pressure and temperature associated with near surface to shallow crustal conditions (~6 km). The system comprises an MTS 4.6 MN capacity servo-controlled hydraulic load frame with a versatile capacity for either uniaxial (compression, indirect tensile) or triaxial testing conditions. The triaxial pressure vessel allows for a confining pressure up to 140 MPa (mineral oil confining medium), temperature up to 200 °C and pore pressure up to 100 MPa (using pure water and brine; capacity for inert gas is under development). Synchronous measurement of stress, strain, sonic velocity, acoustic emission (with tomography capacity in development) and permeability during deformation on right-circular cylinder rock samples with the exceptional capacity of diameters ranging from 38 mm up to 100 mm are available depending on the deformation configuration.
Complimentary services available to the laboratory include sample preparation, geotechnical characterisation, thin section preparation and petrological/microstructural analysis.

Scientific Environment

Research in this laboratory has been used to improve the understanding of material behaviour and processes related to the mechanical and physical properties of rocks, and hence contribute to process models and performance assessment related to CO2 storage, underground gas storage and other underground construction applications. Recent studies have focused on the geomechanical parameters of: reservoir (sandstone) and cap rocks (mudstone) from CCS sites in the North Seas as part of the EPSRC-funded CONTAIN project; underground cavern host rock (halite) for proposed underground compressed air storage as part of the EPSRC-funded IMAGES project and EPSRC CDT EngD on the ‘Impact of impurities and salt structures on environmental risks of H2 storage in salt caverns’; strength and deformability of the Montorfano Granite as part of the SAFER project; and measurement and characterisation of stress induced changes in the electric stress field of geological and man-made materials as part of the EPSRC-funded E-Stress project.

Operating by


British Geological Survey, Natural Environment Research Council
United Kingdom
STORAGE technologies:
Pressure/injection, Migration, Caprock/well integrity, Microseismicity
Research Fields:
Geology/Geophysics, Chemistry/Geochemistry, Mechanics/Geomechanics, Remote sensing, Physical processes

Location & Contacts

Keyworth, Nottingham, UK, United Kingdom
Audrey Ougier-Simonin
RICC Contacts - Secondary contact
Audrey Ougier-Simonin /Simon Gregory

Facility Availability

Availability per year (in UA)
Minimum of 2 weeks
Duration of a typical access (average) and number of external users expected for that access
4 weeks; 1 user.

Quality Control / Quality Assurance (QA)

Activities / tests / data are:
Controlled: ISO 9001:2015
Link to your institution QA webpages if available:

Operational or other constraints

Specific risks:
All risks associated with operating laboratory equipment are covered in the RMPL working protocols and associated risk assessments which are provided to laboratory users.
Legal issues:

CCUS Projects

Other CCUS Projects
EPSRC funded
FP7-PEOPLE Marie Curie Career Integration Grant, SAFER,
Integrated, Market-fit and Affordable Grid-scale Energy Storage (IMAGES) project (EPSRC)
M4Shale Gas – Measuring, monitoring, mitigating, managing the environmental impact of shale gas;
H2020-Euratom-1.2, 1.3, 1.8
CEBAMA – Cement-based materials, properties, evolution, barrier functions
EPSRC Industrial Cooperative Award in Science & Technology (iCASE) PhD studentship
2016 – 2019
Effects of elevated temperature and stresses on the mechanics of rock discontinuities
EPSRC CDT funded EngD studentship
2017 – 2020
Impact of Impurities in Salt Rock for Underground Gas Storage in Salt Caverns
CSE Studentships Project, University of Leicester
The internal architecture of basalt-hosted fault zones
EU-Funded CCUS Projects
REX-CO2 - Reusing existing wells for CO2 storage operations

Selected Publications

Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 21, EGU2019-16684-2, (2019)
Impact of Impurities in Salt Rock for Underground Gas Storage in Salt Caverns.
Martin-Clave, C., Ougier-Simonin, A., Marshall, A. M., and Vandeginste, V.
In 52nd US Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium. American Rock Mechanics Association. (2018)
Thermal effects on discontinuity behavior: a laboratory scale study.
Woodman, J., Ougier-Simonin, A., Murphy, W., & Thomas, M. E.
International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, 102, pp.15-27. (2018)
Yield envelope assessment as a preliminary screening tool to determine carbon capture and storage viability in depleted southern north-sea hydrocarbon reservoirs.
Dobbs, M.R., Cuss, R.J., Ougier-Simonin, A., Parkes, D., and Graham, C.C.
Earth-Science Reviews, 162, 198-226 (2016)
Microfracturing and microporosity in shales. Earth-Science Reviews
Ougier-Simonin, A., Renard, F., Boehm, C., & Vidal-Gilbert, S.