The geotechnical centrifuge

The geotechnical centrifuge has been created in 1985 on the campus of Nantes of University Gustave Eiffel in Bouguenais.

With its earthquake simulator and teleoperating robot, it allows studying the mechanical behaviour of reduced scale models of geotechnical structures such as foundations, off-shore anchorages, embankments and retaining walls. The obtained results provide access to a better understanding of the phenomenon at stake; they can be translated at real scale applying similarity rules and allow validating numerical simulation tools. Such tests in controlled microgravity are also used for the qualification of aeronautical and medical equipment. This is the only equipment of this size in France with the CEA-Cesta one (other applications than geotechnics) and one of the largest centrifuge in the world.


  • Dimensions: 5.5m radius
  • Capacities: 2 tonnes embeddable
  • Maximum acceleration: 100×g

Studied elements

  • Lattice windturbine foundations on piles (project Région PdlL Fondeol2 et Chargeol) or monopile (ANR-FEM Solcyp+)
  • Floating offshore anchorage (WEAMEC project REDENV-EOL)

On-board Equipment

  • Unidirectional earthquake simulator (horizontal)
  • Teleoperating robot with 4 axes
  • Miniature geotechnical tools (penetrometer, pressuremeter, Vane test, T-bar)
  • Hydraulic and electric Servo-cylinders
  • Sensors (around 250)A
  • Acquisition systems
  • Computer network
  • Strain measurement using optical fibers (Bragg sensors)
  • Mobile rain hopper and consolidometers for the samples preparation
  • Roll simulator
  • Transparent face container
  • Saturating system
  • Electrical slip rings low tension
  • Optical
  • Water supply
  • pressurized air, and pressurized oil rotary joints
Published on July 22, 2020 Updated on January 27, 2021