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The Geological Institute hosts a number of laboratory facilities.

Rock deformation Laboratory

Laboratory head:  Claudio Madonna

Short description:

The Rock Deformation Laboratory (RDL) at ETH conducts research on the mechanical behavior and transport properties of Earth materials at conditions pertaining to the Earth’s crust and upper mantle. This is accomplished by means of experimental research coupled with microstructural studies of the micro-scale processes, and modelling of these processes. The RDL is working on a range of problems, including rock deformation, rock physics, elastic wave properties of rocks, volcano-tectonics, coupled thermo-hydro mechanical process in earth crust and deep reservoir characterization.

Further informations on the rock deformation laboratory website.

Stable Isotope Laboratory

Laboratory head: Prof. Dr. Stefano Bernasconi

The stable Isotope Laboratory is part of the Climate geology group. One focus of our research is the development of novel analytical techniques for the analysis of the isotopes of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur.

Currently we are focusing on Carbonate clumped isotopes. In particular, we are we are improving the methodologies for the analysis of clumped isotopes in carbonates in order to reduce sample sizes and are applying this method to the reconstruction of past climate change, to diagenesis and low temperature hydrothermal systems.  Furthermore we work on various projects involving  oxygen isotopes in phosphates, sulfates, water and  carbonates,  sulfur isotopes in different sulfur phases,  hydrogen isotopes in water and low molecular weight hydrocarbons, and carbon and nitrogen isotopes in organic substances.

Further information on the Climate Geology website.

Radiocarbon Prep. laboratory

Laboratory contact: Daniel Montlucon

Fission Track Laboratory

Laboratory head: Dr. Giuditta Fellin

Helium Mikroskopie Kathoden Lumineszen

Laboratory head: Dr. Giuditta Fellin

Sediment Laboratory

Laboratory contact: Remi Lüchinger

Limnology Laboratory

Laboratory contact: Ursula Brupbacher

The Limnogeology Laboratory has a broad set of coring facilities and laboratory instruments to investigate lake sediments of various temporal and spatial scales to study environmental changes at various temporal and spatial scales (e.g. to reconstruct environmental changes of the past). These include climate change, catastrophic events such as earthquakes, floods and rock fall events and human impact. The facilities include the research boat ARETHUSE, different coring systems, a multisensory track,  a Coulomat for carbonate and organic carbon analysis,  a grain size analyzer and a high-resolution  Aavaatech core scanner.

Further information on the Limnogeology Laboratory and the  Climate Geology website.

Rock and Soil Mechanics Laboratory

Laboratory contact: Dr. Matthew Perras

The rock and soil mechanics laboratory within the Engineering Geology Group of the Geological Institute has the facilities to conduct standard and advanced testing of the physical and mechanical properties of rock and soil. The laboratory is used in support of the group’s research activities related to rock slope instabilities, nuclear waste disposal and tunneling, geothermal energy and aquifer characterization, as well as for teaching standard laboratory testing techniques in Engineering Geology.  The available preparation and testing equipment consists of the following:


  • Rock and concrete sample preparation equipment including, drilling, sawing, and grinding of samples up to 200 mm in diameter.
  • Rock and concrete sample preparation equipment including, drilling, sawing, and grinding of samples up to 200 mm in diameter.
  • Proceq Pundit Lab for non-destructive testing of rock samples (e.g. P-wave velocity measurements, dynamic elastic properties).
  • Point load testing for estimation of compressive and tensile strength.
  • Walter-Bai servo compression machine with 2000 kN capacity for compressive and indirect tensile testing with axial and radial strain, as well as acoustic emission measurements.


  • Grain size determination using sieve and hydrometer analysis methods.
  • Permeability testing using falling and constant head methods.
  • Atterberg limits determination methods.
  • Field density measurements.
  • Proctor compaction testing.
  • Direct shear testing.
  • Consolidation testing.

Hydrochemistry Laboratory

Laboratory contact: Dr. Peter Bayer, Dr. Clément Roque

The hydrochemical laboratory within the Engineering Geology Group of the Geological Institute has the facilities to conduct inorganic water chemistry measurements. It is used to support the group’s research activities related to hydrogeological field-testing and tracer hydrology. The main instruments listed in the following are complemented by several field meters and kits, and standard apparatus in the laboratory, such as cylinders, flasks, pipettes, droppers, sampling bottles, fridges, dryers, etc.

  • Hamilton Microlab® 500 Series diluter (×1)
  • Diaphragm vacuum pump (×1)
  • inoLab® pH benchtop meter (×1)
  • Thermo Finnigan LCQ advantage spectrometer system (×1)
  • CECIL CE 4500 fluorescence detector (×1)
  • High-performance liquid chromatography (The UltiMate® 3000 HPLC series, UHPLC+focused) (×1)
  • Dionex DX-120 ion chromatography (×2)
  • Dionex AS 40 automated sampler (×2)
  • METTLER TOLEDO P2010 digital balance (×1)
  • METTLER H31 precision analytical lab balance (×1)
  • PerkinElmer LS 50B Fluorescence Spectrometer (×1)
  • OMNILAB SELECT NEPTUNE water purification system (×1)

In Situ Landslide Laboratories

Responsible: Dr. Andrea Manconi, Dr. Andrea Wolter

The Engineering Geology Group (EGG) has developed two comprehensive landslide in situ laboratories to investigate, monitor and understand a variety of preparatory processes in unstable rock slopes, such as kinematics derived from 3D rock mass deformations and spatial displacement patterns, highest resolution displacement and strain time-histories, climatic, peri- and para-glacial forcing, and hydro-thermo-mechanical coupling. The two in-situ laboratories have been installed in the Alps at high altitudes ranging between 1800 and 2400 masl, around the Randa 1991 head scarp, and the Great Aletsch glacier. In particular, monitoring is performed with ground based geodetic, geotechnical, and geophysical sensors (such as permanent tiltmeters, crackmeters, inclinometers, total stations, GPS/GNSS antennas and receivers, fibre optical localized and distributed strain and temperature sensors, surface and borehole seismometers, pore pressure sensors, and weather stations) as well as by applying remote sensing technologies on terrestrial, airborne (traditional and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and space-borne data sets (photogrammetry, digital image correlation, differential SAR Interferometry). Data are transferred from robotic stations through remote connection in real-time for processing and analysis.

Major Equipment:

Two total stations Leica TCP 1201, TM50, GPS/GNSS receivers, Leica Vector Tachymeter, Geoconcept XR6 Hexacopter (UAV), various types of stand-alone optical time-lapse cameras, fiber optical data acquisition systems from Silixa (XT-DTS) and Micron Optics (SM130 and SP130), Lennartz LE3D-5s 3-component seismometers, high-resolution Jewel tiltmeters, slim-hole geophysical logging down to 800 mbgs, various types of packer testing and pore pressure sensing systems.


GeoMos, Adam Technology 3DM Mining suite and ShapeMetrix (photogrammetry software), ENVI+SARScape suite (SAR interferometry software), Loggernet (data communication software).

Page URL: http://www.geology.ethz.ch/research/Facilities.html
Tue Jul 25 22:40:12 CEST 2017
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