Interlaboratory comparison of testing hydraulic, elastic, and failure properties in compression: lessons learned

Yan Cheng, David Lockner, Mandy Duda, Carolyn Morrow, Demian Saffer, Insun Song, Jörg Renner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many geoscientific problems require us to exploit synergies of experimental and numerical approaches, which in turn lead to questions regarding the significance of experimental details for validation of numerical codes. We report results of an interlaboratory comparison regarding experimental determination of mechanical and hydraulic properties of samples from five rock types, three sandstone varieties with porosities ranging from 5% to 20%, a marble, and a granite. The objective of this study was to build confidence in the participating laboratories’ testing approaches and to establish tractable standards for several physical properties of rocks. We addressed the issue of sample-to-sample variability by investigating the variability of basic physical properties of samples of a particular rock type and by performing repeat tests. Compressive strength of the different rock types spans an order of magnitude and shows close agreement between the laboratories. However, differences among stress–strain relations indicate that the external measurement of axial displacement and the determination of system stiffness require special attention, apparently more so than the external load measurement. Furthermore, post-failure behavior seems to exhibit some machine-dependence. The different methods used for the determination of hydraulic permeability, covering six orders of magnitude for the sample suite, yield differences in absolute values and pressure dependence for some rocks but not for others. The origin of the differences in permeability, in no case exceeding an order of magnitude, correlate with the compressive strength and potentially reflect a convolution of end plug–sample interaction, sample-to-sample variability, heterogeneity on sample scale, and/or anisotropy, the last two aspects are notably not accounted for by the applied evaluation procedures. Our study provides an extensive data set apt for “benchmarking” considerations, be it regarding new laboratory equipment or numerical modeling approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number509
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Pollution
  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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