Advanced Laboratory Testing

Specialized laboratory testing to ensure the success of your project

BGC’s state-of-the-art soil and rock testing laboratory provides a broad range of advanced testing services to a variety of markets. Our laboratory services are particularly well suited to testing for challenging applications where the highest quality, reliable test results are paramount to the success of the project. Our facility is used both to support our broader project work and as a resource for other geotechnical consultants and owners.

BGC’s practice is founded on an appreciation for the impacts of geology on engineered structures and our experts are well-versed in the application of soil and rock testing to our projects. The characterization of soil and rock properties and careful evaluation of the strength, compressibility, and permeability of these materials are essential for the successful completion of many earthworks design and construction projects. This is especially true given the inherent variability in the behavior of soil and rock.

Our Testing Philosophy

Our philosophy is that laboratory testing should be carried out by qualified geotechnical engineers with strong backgrounds in soil and rock mechanics under the close supervision of senior staff. We understand that the quality of laboratory testing data can be difficult to assess after a test has been completed and it is therefore critical that testing be performed by educated, experienced professionals using the latest equipment and following industry standards for technical competence. All of our equipment and instrumentation are routinely calibrated to ensure the reliability of the data and each testing result is reviewed by senior geotechnical engineers before its release to the client.

Specialized Testing

BGC has established itself as a world leader in tailings characterization, including the performance of triaxial testing programs for the determination of the critical state line (CSL) and stress-dilatancy parameters for use in static liquefaction assessments.  BGC is also very experienced in the performance of cyclic tests for determination of earthquake liquefaction-triggering behaviour.

BGC specializes in “outside-the-box” testing and has developed unique, state-of-the-art equipment to suit the most challenging project requirements. BGC has developed innovative sample preparation equipment and procedures for the handling of “undisturbed” samples of soft, sensitive soils. BGC has developed a high-pressure (7 MPa) triaxial cell, a large-scale (40 cm x 40 cm) direct shear box, and has acquired a large scale dynamic triaxial apparatus capable of testing samples with diameters of up to 30 cm at confining pressures of up to 3 MPa. BGC has also developed a custom direct shear apparatus for rock discontinuities which offers many advantages over the commercially available alternatives.


We specialize in:

  • Fully automated monotonic and cyclic triaxial testing of soil along any stress path
  • Monotonic and cyclic direct simple shear
  • Peak and residual direct shear
  • Ring shear
  • Resonant column
  • Constant head and falling head permeability tests using rigid wall and flexible wall permeameters
  • One-dimensional consolidation by incremental loading and constant rate of strain (CRS) using fully automated oedometer systems.

This equipment is equipped with precise instrumentation and data acquisition systems for control and/or measurement of deviatoric load, cell and pore pressures, axial and radial displacements, and pore volume changes. Some recent examples of laboratory projects include:

  • Critical state testing of mine tailings at numerous tailings storage facilities internationally
  • Evaluation of the strength, compressibility, and permeability of native saprolite to support the design and construction of a large tailings impoundment at a mine site in the Caribbean
  • Characterization of the stress history, shear strength, compressibility, and hydraulic conductivity of glaciolacustrine silts and clays at numerous sites in Canada including normally consolidated and overconsolidated deposits, sensitive silts and clays, high plasticity clays and glacially pre-sheared (slickensided) clays
  • Completion of a large testing program to evaluate the strength and compressibility of marine clay recovered from the Beaufort Sea in water depths often exceeding 1 km
  • Characterization of the nature and engineering properties of marine sand, silt, and clay recovered from on-land, intertidal and off-shore environments to support the design and construction of a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) pipeline in Western Canada.

Available Tests

BGC provides expertise to assess the groundwater monitoring requirements of a project and recommends appropriate monitoring programs and instrumentation. We are well-versed, in the siting and installation of piezometers and monitoring wells, the design and operation of multi-level monitoring systems, and the installation and operation of groundwater monitoring instrumentation. We also have in-depth experience with data management, remote monitoring, and presentation of real-time data using web-based interfaces.

Related Projects

Key Contacts

Advanced Laboratory Testing

Simon Dickinson

Principal Geotechnical Engineer, Chief Technical Officer

Advanced Laboratory Testing

Ian Stilwell

Principal Geotechnical Engineer

Advanced Laboratory Testing

Nicole Woodcock

Lab Manager, Engineer-in-Training

Advanced Laboratory Testing

David Oldford

Geotechnical Engineer

Advanced Laboratory Testing

Michael Billings

Geotechnical Engineer