Environmental Geotechnics (Since 1986)

In this research area, basic, multidisciplinary studies are developed, aiming to understand the mechanisms of earth mass movement and fluid transport through the subsoil. Basic and applied studies are also developed in relation to the disposal of urban and industrial solid waste and the disposal of tailings; the recovery of areas degraded by mass movements and contaminated by organic and inorganic substances, and the prevention or minimization of geoenvironmental accidents and damage to the socio-physical environment. For the implementation of these studies, numerical-analytical models, field and laboratory experimental tools, and geo-environmental instrumentation and monitoring techniques are developed, as well as analyzes of  risk and historical cases.

The projects developed in this area of research involve:

  • Development of field and laboratory experimental procedures for determination of stress-strain characteristics and mechanical and hydraulic properties of unsaturated media, with emphasis on tropical soils (residual and colluvial soils, collapsible and expansive soils) and residues from different origins;
  • Development of experimental procedures for the determination of biophysical and chemical characteristics associated to processes of evolution of weathering profiles in residual soils and transport of contaminants through the subsoil and groundwater;
  • Study and development of soil and waste instrumentation and monitoring techniques in order to evaluate the behavior of such materials in the presence of different geo-environmental problems and the implementation of recovery techniques for areas degraded by mass movements or contaminated by organic or inorganic substances, dissolved or not in groundwater;
  • Development of monitoring systems for the study of soil-climate-vegetation interaction in different geo-environmental problems and studies associated with the generation of biogas and/or toxic effluents in landfills /piles of waste of different origins;
  • Development of numerical procedures for the analysis of processes of infiltration of water and/or contaminants in geological environments and residues of different origins;
  • Studies of biodegradation processes of organic contaminants in tropical soils;
  • Study of the behavior of cover systems of landfill/solid waste disposal pile;
  • Development of numerical procedures to analyze the mobility of contaminants in geological environments;
  • Studies of biogeochemical effects of processes of sequestration of CO2 in geological environments and of CH4 / CO2 in urban solid waste disposal areas;
  • Studies on the reuse of waste and tailings from different sources in different geotechnical works;
  • Development of computational tools to evaluate the susceptibility of damages and/or risk analysis associated with geo-environmental events;
  • Remediation of soils contaminated by thermal desorption;
  • Recovery of degraded areas;
  • Development of a dynamic methodology for geo-environmental investigation;
  • Monitoring the geological storage of CO2 in geological environments.

Experimental Geotechnics (Since 1977)

This research area deals with experimental studies in the field and in the laboratory on the mechanical and hydraulic behavior of natural soils, reinforced soils and pavements. This area also includes the development of new equipment and instrumentation for testing, as well as the monitoring and evaluation of geotechnical works during and after construction.

The main projects developed in this research area are:

  • Development and analysis of the behavior of new geotechnical materials through techniques of reinforcement and insertion of alternative materials;
  • Development of new equipment and testing techniques for and soil and geosynthetic materials;
  • Evaluation of the durability of rockfills and geosynthetic materials;
  • Monitoring of dam works and slope stabilization;
  • Use of various residues in the improvement of geotechnical properties for application in paving and earthworks;
  • Development of dynamic methodology for geological-geotechnical investigation;
  • Development of new tools for hydrogeological surveys;
  • Use of geophysical tools in geological modeling;
  • Use of geosynthetics to combat sub pressure effects.

Computational Geomechanics (Since 1978)

This research area proposes the study of hydraulic/mechanical behavior of soils, rocks and geotechnical works using numerical methods (finite element method, boundary element method, hybrid methods, stochastic methods) and other computational techniques such as neural networks.

Petroleum Geomechanics (Since 1989)

The research area develops basic and applied studies for the petroleum industry, with emphasis on the geomechanical aspects. These studies cover the experimental area (small sample and model trials), well and reservoir behavior analysis, and the development of analytical and numerical models.

The projects developed in this research area are:

  • Stability of wells in shales;
  • Stability of wells in fractured masses;
  • Construction of wells in evaporites;
  • Injection of CO2 for EOR purposes;
  • Analysis of geopressions in sedimentary basins;
  • Geomechanical effects in reservoirs;
  • Numerical and experimental studies of sand/solid production processes in oil producing rocks.
  • Behavior of complex reservoirs.

Rock Mechanics and Engineering Geology

This research area has the following objectives: to describe the rock masses and to quantify their mechanical and hydraulic properties and to analyze the influence of the structure and stratigraphy of the rock masses in geotechnical works.

The projects developed in this research area are:

  • Behavior of underground excavations;
  • Stability of slopes in rocky masses with applications to natural slopes and open pit mining;
  • Geological/geomechanical modeling of rock masses;
  • Study of geotechnical properties of component materials of alteration profiles of gneiss rocks;
  • Study of processes of CO2 geological storage;
  • Development of equipment/sensors to perform mechanical tests on rocks;
  • Evaluation of existing methodologies for predicting damage to pipelines resulting from the opening by fire of ditched in rocky environments.