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Geomechanical and geophysical freezing laboratory


The geomorphology and environmental studies laboratory was converted to a freezing laboratory for permafrost stability tests in 2007. Here samples from numerous Alpine permafrost sites are subjected to geomechanical and geophysical tests. The laboratory is currently used for teaching bachelor modules, Diplom courses on slope instability and by four PhD students.

The laboratory receives research funding from the German Science Foundation SPCC project cluster (Sensitivity of Permafrost to Climate Change) and the Austrian K1 competence initiative "MOREXPERT" (Monitoring potential hazardous rock walls and slopes in mountain regions) and is a co-operation partner of the NERC (UK) technology bid "Monitoring the thermal state of permafrost" at the University of Sussex (J. Murton and O.Kuras). As well as examining its own rock samples, the laboratory also tests samples from the cooperating universities of Fribourg, Jena, Salzburg, Oslo, Sussex, Zürich and Université de Savoie. The laboratory’s work is supported by the sub-departments Applied Geophysics (Prof. A. Kemna) and Petrophysics (Dr. G. Nover, N. Zisser) at the Steinmann Institute.


Geophysical measurement of frozen rock samples

  • Continuous current electricity: Determination of temperature resistivity paths in thawed, supercooled and frozen rock samples
  • Laboratory seismicity: Determination of temperature p-wave speed paths in thawed, supercooled and frozen rock samples
  • Spectral-induced polarisation (new): Determination of frequency-dependent resistance and phase value in thawed, supercooled and frozen rock samples (cooperation with Prof. A. Kemna, Applied Geophysics)

Geomechanical measurement of frozen/thawing rock samples

  • Surface roughness and friction of permafrost rocks
  • Mechanical properties of crevice fillings in permafrost conditions
  • Fissures in rock arches in permafrost conditions (new)

The geomechanical and geophysical laboratory is located in Room 033.


For further information please visit the GIUB facilities.



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