Geotechnical Laboratory Testing

S&ME provides laboratory testing of soil, rock and other materials for site characterization, geotechnical design, quality control and performance assessment purposes.  Our services range from the most basic visual-manual examination of recovered samples to simple measurement of grain size, moisture content or plasticity properties of soils,  to highly specialized shear strength and consolidation tests requiring sophisticated instrumentation and skills.  S&ME uses state-of-the-art testing equipment, advanced processes and automation.   Our goal is to provide our clients with fast turnaround and accurate test results.

S&ME puts great stress on prompt, efficient, but careful sample handling.  This is important so that laboratory tests provide repeatable data that represent conditions in the field to the extent possible. Methods for containment and packaging of soil samples and transportation of the samples to the laboratory follow standard procedures to minimize the opportunity for moisture content change or disturbance.   Samples are processed as soon as possible following arrival, since as storage time increases, moisture will migrate within a tube or condense within a sample jar and change the soil properties.     Intact samples are stored in the proper position in the laboratory and extracted from the sampler using a specially constructed extruder.

S&ME laboratories are accredited under the Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Accreditation Program (AAP).  AAP recognizes a laboratory’s compliance to certain requirements of ASTM International and AASHTO practices for testing soil, concrete, bituminous paving and other construction materials. In addition to the inspections and sample testing, our labs have established internal quality control systems that meet AAP criteria. As a part of the AAP program, S&ME continues to provide internal training and certification of our technician staff through the NICET and ACI certification programs.

Our soils labs routinely provide:

  • Preservation and Handling of Soil and Rock Samples
  • Soil and Rock Classification
  • Direct Shear
  • Triaxial Shear
  • Consolidation and Swell
  • Hydraulic Conductivity
  • Dispersive Characteristics of Clay
  • Electro-chemical
  • Bearing Ratio

Output from laboratory tests are individually reviewed by geotechnical engineering staff.

Our Knoxville facility is also licensed by the Tennessee Department of Health and Environment, Division of Radiological Health, and can receive and test low-level radioactive material.  Several of the S&ME laboratories are validated to perform laboratory testing for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.