Geotechnical Group of the University of Michigan

Geotechnical Group of the University of Michigan


The geotechnical group has a unique set of diverse laboratory and field testing facilities. Our legacy in geotechnical testing spans more than 70 years, starting with Prof. Housel’s unique testing devices in the 1930s, continuing in the 1960s to 1990s when Prof. Richart and Woods and their students set the foundations for Soil Dynamics Testing in the field and the laboratory.

Today, Michigan continues advancing the state of the art and practice in field and laboratory testing.

In the Laboratory, Geotechnical students and Faculty share the following facilities:

  • The Geotechnical Testing Laboratory houses conventional geotechnical characterization and testing equipment and is used for research as well as undergraduate teaching.
  • The F.E. Richart Jr. Soil Dynamics Laboratory is a fully equipped geotechnical laboratory with specialized testing equipment to evaluate the static and dynamic properties of soils.
  • The Geoenvironmental Laboratory is a new facility outfitted with specialty equipment for characterization and testing of solid waste materials. The facility is under negative pressure and ventilated by an active emission control system to allow testing of these materials in a controlled environment.
  • The Geotechnical Research And Visualization Engineering Laboratory (G.R.A.V.E.L.) houses State of the Art equipment developed at the University of Michigan for soil characterization.
  • The Computational Geotechnics laboratory is a facility specifically for geotechnical research and graduate education that focuses on soil modeling and geotechnical analyses using computational tools.


In the Field, Geotechnical students and Faculty share the following facilities:

  • The Cone Penetration Testing Rig is a 7 ton CPT rig for classroom instruction and research and has the capability to perform piezocone (uCPT), Seismic cone (SCPT) testing, Vision cone penetration (VisCPT) testing, Flat plate dilatometer (DMT), testing and Soil sampling.
  • The “bottomless, clean sand” pit is a 20 ft in diameter indoor sand pit filled with Ottawa sand to a depth of 12 ft that can be used for physical modeling. Previous projects include lateral loading of piles, and geophysics verification testing.
  • Instrumentation to perform shear wave velocity measurements in the field.
  • The Field Testing Storage Facility houses the geotechnical field testing equipment as well as the Cone Penetration Rig.

These facilities have an outstanding and very diverse collection of equipment that spans the entire breadth of testing in the field and laboratory. For more information please view our Geotechnical Facilities and Equipment Document.