Rock & Materials Testing

RESPEC provides clients with advanced and specialized rock testing and research to support the complete characterization of a rock’s physical composition. Our testing also evaluates the mechanical, hydrological, and thermal behavior of the rock to offer clients and engineering analysts with the properties data they need to support mining engineering studies.

Our state-of-the-art Materials Testing Laboratory and facilities have more than 10,000 square feet of monitored, secure, and environmentally controlled floor space to ensure accurate data when preparing samples and testing rock. We conduct standardized testing according to the methods recommended by ASTM International, the International Society for Rock Mechanics, the International Organization for Standardization, and the American Petroleum Institute.

Our laboratory team uses sophisticated equipment that accurately simulates complex in situ stress and temperature conditions. Since 1969, our Materials Testing Laboratory has customized its testing capabilities and services to meet the unique needs of our diverse national and international clients that include government agencies, national laboratories, architectural and engineering firms, mining companies, and the oil-and-gas industries.

The laboratory also houses an environmentally controlled core-logging laboratory and a core storage facility. This space allows our geology team to clean, prepare, package, photograph, describe, and gamma-log the core in a controlled environment.

For questions on laboratory services and capabilities please contact Stuart Buchholz, Manager Materials Testing, or 605.394.6435.


  • Unconfined compressive strength (UCS) – ASTM D7012
  • Triaxial compressive strength (TCS) – ASTM D7012
  • Constant strain rate measurement of elastic constants (CSR) – ASTM D7012
  • Brazilian indirect tensile strength (BRZ) – ASTM D3967
  • Direct tensile strength (DTS) – ASTM D2936
  • Constant mean stress dilation (CMS) – ASTM STP 1350
  • Confined creep deformation (Creep) – ASTM D7070
  • Direct shear strength – ASTM D5607
  • Borehole compressive strength (BCS) – Procedure developed in-house
  • Uniaxial unconfined thermal expansion – ASTM D4535
  • Triaxial thermal expansion – Procedure developed in-house
  • Thermal conductivity, heat capacity, thermal diffusivity (hot disk test)– ISO 22007-:2015
  • Porosity, grain density, bulk volume, bulk density using a helium porosimeter – MetaRock procedure
  • Permeability using super-critical nitrogen – MetaRock procedure
  • P- and S- wave ultrasonic velocity – ASTM D2845
  • X-Ray diffraction (XRD) – USGS method Report 01-041
  • X-Ray fluorescence (XRF) – ASTM E1621
  • Rock sample preparation and bulk density determination – ASTM D4543
  • Moisture content – ASTM D2216
  • Insoluble content for evaporite rock – RESPEC TP-30 modified from ASTM E534
  • Spectral gamma core logging – Procedure and calibration developed in-house


MTS 311.31 UT4 Universal Testing Machine
Axial Force – Up to 220,000 lbf, Temperature – 70°F to 572°F, Sample Size – Up to 4 in
MTS 312.41 UT2 Universal Testing Machine with Triaxial Vessel
Axial Force – Up to 220,000 lbf, Confining Pressure – 7,500 psi, Temperature – 70°F to 392°F, Sample Size – Up to 4 in
MTS 315.03 STS Stiff Testing Machine with Triaxial Vessel
Axial Force – Up to 1,000,000 lbf, Confining Pressure – 20,000 psi, Temperature – 70°F to 392°F, Sample Size – Up to 3.5 in
16 Static Loading Triaxial Test Frames for Long-Term Creep (Built by REPEC and INSTRON)
Axial Force – Up to 220,000 lbf, Confining Pressure – 7,500 psi, Temperature – 70°F to 392°F, Sample Size – Up to 4 in
Rock Direct Shear Testing Machine (Built by RESPEC)
Normal Force – Up to 30,000 lbf, Shear Force – 30,000 lbf, Temperature – 70°F,
Sample Size – up to 6X6X6 in
Unitherm Model 1054L Thermal Dilatometer
Temperature – Up to 572°F, Sample Size – Up to 1.5 in
Thermtest TPS 1500 Thermal Constants Analyzer
Temperature – Up to 592°F, Sample Size – Up to 6 in diameter and irregularly shaped samples
15 Hydrostatic Consolidation Chamber for Salt Healing (Built by RESPEC)
Hydrostatic Pressure – Up to 3,000 psi, Temperature – 70°F, Sample Size – Up to 4 in
MetaRock Rackmount Ultrasonic Acoustic Velocity System
P- and S-Wave Velocity Measurements, Unaxial Benchtop or During Triaxial Creep or Strength,
Sample Size – Up to 4 in
RS-230 BGO Super Spec Spectral Core Gamma Logger
Sample Size – Any, Core Scanning in the Field or Scanning in a Gamma Shielded Machine
MTS Axial and Radial Extensometers or Conventional Strain Gage Measurement, Unconfined or Confined
Sample Size – Up to 4 in, Temperature – 70ׄ°F to 392°F
Malvern-Panalytical Empryean
X-ray diffraction for mineral characterization using a Cobalt source.
Olympus Vanta M Handheld XRF
Elemental analysis using X-ray fluorescence on any size rock sample.