Experimental Rock Deformation Techniques

  1. B.E. Hobbs and
  2. H.C. Heard
  1. Terry E. Tullis and
  2. Jan Tullis

Published Online: 18 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM036p0297

Mineral and Rock Deformation: Laboratory Studies: The Paterson Volume

Mineral and Rock Deformation: Laboratory Studies: The Paterson Volume

How to Cite

Tullis, T. E. and Tullis, J. (1986) Experimental Rock Deformation Techniques, in Mineral and Rock Deformation: Laboratory Studies: The Paterson Volume (eds B.E. Hobbs and H.C. Heard), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM036p0297

Author Information

  1. Dept. of Geological Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1986

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900629

Online ISBN: 9781118664353



  • Rocks—Testing—Addresses, essays, lectures;
  • Rock deformation—Addresses, essays, lectures


The processes by which rocks and minerals are deformed in the earth's crust and mantle can be studied in the laboratory by subjecting samples to a variety of stress states in combination with high ambient pressures and temperatures. Such experimental deformation also allows study of the mechanical behavior and the textural features that are associated with the deformation processes. The technology required to deform rocks at high pressures and high temperatures in the laboratory has played a very important role in advancing the science of rock deformation. Current experimental designs used for attaining simultaneous high pressures and high temperatures fall into two categories: those that use a weak solid as the pressure medium and those that use a fluid, most commonly a gas. Gas apparatus with an internal furnace offer the greatest accuracy in pressure, differential stress and temperature; they are currently used up to 1400°C although attaining temperatures above about 1000°C and pressures above about 0.7 GPa requires great care. Solid media apparatus can deform samples at temperatures up to 1500°C and pressures up to 3.0 GPa. For temperatures above about 1100°C weak pressure media are not yet reliable, and for pressures above about 1.5 GPa end-loading of the pressure vessel is necessary. A deformation apparatus consists of systems for the confining pressure, differential load, strain, temperature and pore pressure. The systems must provide methods for applying, controlling, and measuring each of these variables. The greatest accuracy can be attained by measuring these variables inside the pressure vessel. The use of computers to collect data and to control the experimental apparatus promises to have a large positive impact on the quality and quantity of experimental data. Nothing, however, can replace careful design, construction, and use of the various components of the experimental equipment itself.