Experimental Geophysics Group

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
What the facility does

Rock physics and mechanics, surface and borehole geophysics

Areas of expertise

The Experimental Geophysics Group carries out a unique blend of field- and laboratory-based geophysical studies, with particular focus on rock properties and how in situ conditions influence them.  The group carries out a wide range of ultrasonic measurements on materials and fluids subject to conditions of pressure and temperature. As the work is of a highly experimental nature, we are capable of working to design and fabricate ultrasonic apparatus to carry out feasibility investigations. The laboratory also has a range of tools for characterizing porous media. We also have the capability to measure the complex dielectric constants (permittivity) of solids and liquids from 10 MHz to 3 GHz. The group has also built up extensive field capabilities and conducted geophysical surveys on six continents and under conditions from both polar regions to the equator. Our field equipment includes a complete set for carrying out high resolution surface seismic surveys, including a 6000-lb truck-mounted seismic vibrator. The group is also able to conduct geophysical logging surveys to depths as great as 3000 m. Of particular note is a new state-of-the-art downhole digital seismic recording system that is able to work continuously at temperatures of 135 C. The group is very open to collaboration with industry on either a fee-for-service, contract, or grant, depending upon the situation. 

Research services

Rock physics:  high pressure/temperature measurement of P and S wave velocities in rocks saturated with fluids,
measurement of dielectric properties of solids and liquids from 10 MHz to 3 GHz.
Rock mechanics: measurement of unconfined compressive strength and tensile strength.
Geophysical logging:  winches with 1800-m and 3000-m depth capacity.
Logging tools including ultrasonic borehole televiewer/ electrical log/temperature/ fluid conductivity/ full-waveform sonic and magnetic susceptibility.
Borehole seismology:  modern, state-of-the-art Sercel SlimWave system for vertical seismic profiling (VSP) and longer-term seismic monitoring for induced seismicity or earthquakes.

Sectors of application
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Clean technology
  • Construction (including building, civil engineering, specialty trades)
  • Defence and security industries
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
  • Manufacturing and processing
  • Mining, minerals and metals
  • Ocean industries
  • Professional and technical services (including legal services, architecture, engineering)
Specialized labEquipmentFunction
Rock physics laboratory

High pressure/temperature vessels

Uniaxial press

RF dielectric permittivity

Capacities to carry out measurements of ultrasonic wave speeds under conditions of confining and pore pressure. Standard rock mechanics strength measurements.  Equipment to measure the dielectric constants of materials from 10 Mz to 3 GHz.
Porous media characterization

Mercury Injection porosimetry

Helium pycnometer

Various equipment to carry out standard analysis of porous media.
High resolution surface seismologyMobile seismological laboratoryTruck-mounted high frequency seismic vibrator (IVI Minivib), 240 channels (geometrics geode), truck-mounted seismic recording box.
Borehole geophysics laboratoryFive-channel Sercel SlimWave digital system. Assortment of slimline logging tools. Winches to 1800 m and 3000 m.System to acquire downhole geophysical logs. State- of-the art seismic system for borehole seismology and seismic monitoring. Sercel system obtained in December, 2014 and currently operational.