Manchester University

Key laboratory expertise

  • High temperature rock deformation
  • Rock fracture in tight mudstone
  • Physical properties of rocks and minerals
  • Rheology
  • Fluid permeability
  • Porosity


Staff and Students

The work of the rock deformation laboratory is supported by a full time technician and 4 members of full time academic staff. We currently host 2 PhD students. The laboratory typically support a further 3-4 MSc projects annually on a range of project topics.

Alumni from the lab can be found in academia, industry, and government posts worldwide.

Rock Deformation Laboratory

Manchester has a world leading laboratory with 50 years of experience squashing rocks. We can deform rocks and minerals in compression, extension and torsion up to 1300 °C and 300 MPa. We also can measure porosity, permeability, seismic velocity and electrical conductivity of rocks and minerals at elevated pressures and temperatures.



Paterson Gas rig: Our high temperature rheology rig, a clasic patterson apparatus, is one of only a few in the UK. The apparatus can performs rock deformation experiments on cylindrical speciments (typically 15mm diameter and 45mm length) from 700 to 1300 °C, and up to 300 MPa confining pressure.
Nimonic: Our medium temperature rheology rig operatues from 100 to 700 °C, and up to 200 MPa pressure.
Phoenix: Strength and physical properties of reservoir rocks from 20-200 °C, and up to 200 MPa.
Big Rig: Room temperature, 500 MPa, Strength and physical properties of reservoir rocks.
Green Rig: Room temperature, 500 MPa, Physical properties of reservoir rocks.
Core Test Rig: This rig allows the measurement of permability from 20-200 °C and 60 MPa.
Gas Permeameter: Room temperature (up to 3 bars), Nitrogen Permeameter.
Helium Porosimeter: Room temperature porosimetry.
ITASCA 8 channel ricther AE system: This state-of-the art Acoustic Emission recorder (Applied Seismology Consultants) can measure 8 channels of AE data simultaneously, and locate the locations of the earthquakes in quasi-real time for display and analysis at data rate of up to 100 events/second. The instrument can also be used in a active mode, ‘pinging’ successive sensors to generate a dense P-wave raypath network for tomography.
Physical Acoustic 8 Channel AE system: A conventioanl 8 channel (triggered) AE system for hit data (energy, hit rate, delay, amplitude).
Solartron impedance spectrometer:
Time of flight ultrasonic velocity setup:
Elle Soil Mechanics Rigs:

Current Projects

- Fracture in tight mudrock;