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Geotechnical Centrifuge

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About the Geotechnical Centrifuge

Our Geotechnical Centrifuge Facility (GCF) consists of a 6m diameter geotechnical centrifuge and associated sample and model preparation facilities. These are used to undertake scaled physical model tests. The centrifuge spins the scale models to accelerations of up to 130 times Earth’s gravity.

Geotechnical centrifuges enable failure mechanisms and soil-structure interactions to be studied using real soil samples at small scale. This allows accelerated scale modelling of geosystems, such as earthworks, foundations and other civil engineering infrastructure that interacts with the ground.

Our research addresses the resilience and sustainability of offshore and onshore infrastructure, addressing engineering challenges on land, by the coast and at the seafloor. These range from wind farms to high speed rail systems, and from characterisation of microscopic soil properties through to the whole life behaviour of foundations and earthworks over decades of loading and climate impact.

Our Geotechnical Centrifuge Facility (GCF) is part of the National Infrastructure Laboratory. Our facility is equipped with state-of-the-art systems for robotic control, data acquisition, image analysis and sample characterisation. 

Our staff have supervised more than 40 PhDs involving centrifuge modelling, and we have collaborated with a wide range of infrastructure stakeholders to apply centrifuge modelling to their challenges.

Technical specification

Our Actidyn C67/4 centrifuge is the latest version of a well-established geotechnical centrifuge design, adapted to suit our requirements. The facility is equipped with a mixture of in-house and externally-sourced ancillary equipment, designed for long-term data-rich modelling of all geotechnical systems as well as other high gravity testing applications.

The centrifuge is 6m in diameter to the swinging platform, with a capacity of 130 g-tonnes and a maximum model weight of 1.5 tonnes. It is equipped for unattended running and remote control, permitting long term testing sequences that can simulate decades of behaviour in tens of hours.

Our ancillary equipment includes:

  • model strongboxes, 780 mm x 580 mm in plan area, 500 mm deep (internal dimensions)
  • two- and three-axis actuator loading systems (UWA design).
  • programmable load and displacement control including cyclic capabilities
  • camera systems for imaging capability, including PIV analysis
  • sample characterisation using a range of miniature penetrometers
  • natural and artificial sediments prepared by pluviation or consolidation


Contact us

Get in touch to find out more about the lab and how we might be able to work with you.
National Infrastructure Laboratory, Building 178, Boldrewood Innovation Campus, Southampton SO16 7QF
We’re open Monday to Friday 09:00 to 17:00 UK time