Geotechlab The site of the Geotechnical Lab


Meso-scale chute / channel / box  for physical modelling of geotechnical problems

The layout of the box used for the loading tests on a granular slope (Box size: ~180x40x70 cm).

Example of application with seepage in a sandy-clayey slope .
Example of application with a footing on a granular slope .

The box is equipped with a

  1. motorized hopper for the soil deposition by pluviation
  2. hydraulic jack for controlling the box inclination
  3. motorized loading system apparatus
  4. hydraulic circuit for seepage modelling and water recirculation
  5. photographic monitoring system
  6. load cells, displacement transducers, strain gauges and micro-pore water pressure transducers

High-resolution Micro-CT scanner

SkyScan 1172 Micro CT.
Example of 3D tomographic reconstruction of a wet granular material (glass beads) .

The device has the following characteristics:

  1. X-ray source: 20-100kV,10W,<5µm spot size or 20-80kV, 8W, <8µm spot size
  2. X-ray detector: 11Mp, 12-bit cooled CCD fiber-optically coupled to scintillator;
  3. Maximum object size: 27mm in diameter (single scan) or 50mm in diameter (offset scan);
  4. Detail detectability <0.8µm at highest resolution.

Schneebeli apparatus

Schneebeli 2D apparatus made of wooden dowel pins.

High-speed digital cameras

Casio EX-F1 Exilim (6.6 Mpx, 2816×2112, max 60 frame/s as camera and 1200 frame/s as video).
2x Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V (up to 1000 fps).

DSLR cameras

2x Canon EOS 400D Digital Rebel XTi
(10.1 MP, max res. 3888×2592).
2x Canon EOS 550D Rebel T2i
(18 MP, max res. 5184×3456).
3x Canon EOS 1300D
(18MP APS-C, max res. 5184 x 3456).

Depth camera

2x Azure Kinect DK

GNSS receiver

Trimble R1 GNSS receiver


Chassis and modules


Arduino UNO R3



USB Oscilloscope Owon VDS1022 (2 channels, 25 MHz, 100MS/s)


GE Druck PDCR81 miniaturized pressure transducers with high air-entry filter (350 mbar g; 0-3.5 m H20)
1x Onset Hobo water level U20L-04 (0-4m)
2x Onset Hobo water level U20-01 (0-9m)
x Onset Hobo water level U20-001-01-TI (0-9 m) Titanium
Example of reading with Hobo transducer: pressure, temperature and battery level data.

For a glossary in the field of force measurement have a look here

Load Cell TCA.315.R3 (compression and tension) 10 kg
Load cells (1kg-20kg) and HX711 module
Strain gauges Tokyo Sokki Kenkyujo Co., Ltd.
Gauge types: FLK-6-23 (gauge factor 2.15), FLK-6-17 (gauge factor 2.13)

Important video instructions on the functioning and the use of 1-component Piezoelectric force sensors:

Servo accelerometer inclinometer probe
Phreatimeter – water level meter OTT KL010-100 (100 m)
Water level indicator BFK100 (cable length 100 m, probe diameter 1 cm) (PASI)
1x Green (520 nm) and 5x Red (650 nm) Laser module diode.

Granular materials

Glass ballotini of different grain-size (0.1 mm; 0.75-1 mm; 1.5 mm; 2.0 mm; 3.0 mm; 5.0 mm)
Calcium carbonate particles (800-1180, 1180-1410, 1410-2000, and 2000-2830 μm)
Adige sand ($latex D_{50}$ =0.42 mm)
Fontainebleau sand


2x XYZ-axis 40×40 LD40-LM fine tuning Microstages and 2x XYZ-axis 40×40 LD40-RM fine tuning Microstages

Alluminium extruded profiles


Gabrieli, F., Cola, S., & Calvetti, F. (2009). Use of an up-scaled DEM model for analysing the behaviour of a shallow foundation on a model slope. Geomechanics and Geoengineering, 4(2), 109–122.
Gabrieli, F., Grigoletto, E., & Cola, S. (2010). Physical modeling of a drainage system on a layered sandy-clayey slope. Physical Modelling in Geotechnics - Springman, Laue & Seward (Eds), 2, 1107–1112.
Santomaso, A. C., Volpato, S., & Gabrieli, F. (2018). Collapse and runout of granular columns in pendular state. Physics of Fluids, 30(6), 63301.