Geomechanics laboratory ‘iM4RockLab’

In our geomechanics laboratory, ‘iM4RockLab’, we measure the physical properties of rocks and materials. These measurements are used to determine the behaviour of rocks during subsurface activities.

Under high pressure and temperature

To measure the physical properties of rocks and other materials, we use a rig that can deform them under high pressure (up to about 600 bar) and temperature (up to about 100 degrees Celsius). The conditions of this so-called ‘tri-axial test’ are comparable to subsurface conditions at depths between 1 and 3 km. This is the depth at which the rocks can be used for various types of storage and extracting energy.

Rock strength measurements

An important aspect of our research is using tri-axial tests to determine the interactions of different materials found in boreholes and rocks at smaller scales. In the lab, we measure the properties (such as strength and permeability) of rock samples, which include borehole cores. These properties allow us to more accurately quantify processes in the subsurface. This enables us to monitor and model the movement of rock layers and the gases or liquids within those rock layers. 

Reducing risks regarding social issues

Our work is contributing to reducing the risks associated with various social issues, such as underground energy storage (hydrogen storage in porous reservoirs and empty salt caverns in particular) and induced seismicity.

For example, we are studying the effects of storing hydrogen in porous reservoirs, with a particular focus on how efficient injection and extraction is and what effect hydrogen has on sealing layers and on wells. We are also investigating induced seismicity in relation to geothermal energy. We are determining how the subsurface responds to the extraction of hot water and the injection of cold water for heat generation. A third important theme is well leakage. We are studying the interaction between well systems and their surrounding rock layers. This research is of particular relevance for salt and clay, in which wells may become better sealed over time.

3D tour through the geomechanics lab

Any questions?

Are you interested in more information about the geomechanics laboratory ‘iM4RockLab’? Please contact Jan ter Heege via the blue ‘mail directly’ button below.