The rock and ice mechanics lab at Lamont-Doherty is led by PIs Heather Savage, Christine McCarthy and Ben Holtzman. We are in the process of growing our lab and building our experimental program. Along with a team of postdocs, undergrads, grads, and longtime staff engineer Ted, we are rehabilitating and revamping some of the old equipment and building new rigs for exciting new experiments on both rock and ice. You can follow along with our progress here.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

A dry run

Before we start getting crazy with ice and cold, we want to have a dry run of the apparatus. Can we actually control it the way we want? We loaded everything up in the cryostat, but left it at room temperature with the front panel off and, instead of ice, we placed a piece of PVC plastic as our central slider.

We used some makeshift plastic pistons so as not to potentially harm our expensive ceramic ones.
We manually dialed in our horizontal piston until we got a decent normal load (the panels that say 0.167 and 0.160 are in MPa and are the right and left load cells, respectively).
Then we slowly drove the plastic down through the rock. Plastic is pretty slippery, so we didn't get to very high shear stresses, which made me very happy for a first run. It all worked in a nice controlled manner, with data sent to a computer for later analysis.  No major glitches, so next step: ICE!!

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