Soils, Rock and Materials Testing

Structural Soils have been undertaking laboratory testing on soil and rock samples through our own site investigation division and through direct contact with external clients for over 30 years.

Advanced datalogged shearboxes

The Bristol laboratory is the largest of our four laboratories, which all operate under a UKAS-accredited multi-site status.

Structural Soils’ Bristol laboratory employs over 25 staff and offers an extensive range of testing facilities. Laboratories in Hemel Hempstead, Tonbridge and Castleford supplement these testing capabilities. Castleford specialises in aggregate testing and earthwork-related testing. Hemel Hempstead and Tonbridge provide laboratory and in situ testing services to clients within the M25 areas of the UK.

The Bristol laboratory is licensed by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs to import soil and rock from all over the world. It is one of only a few geotechnical laboratories in the UK to have this licence. Please contact the laboratory in advance of freighting samples and for advice and support on importing non-EU-origin soil and rock for analysis.

Routine soil testing

The laboratories have extensive soil testing capabilities that include the standard range of tests such as plasticity, particle size, compaction, triaxial compression, consolidation, shear box (small and large), ring shear and particle density.

Advanced soil testing

We have a large effective stress laboratory (25 cells) for carrying out consolidated drained and undrained triaxial compression and triaxial cell permeability. We are adding more high-pressure cells and equipment to provide a better service for mining and offshore clients that require testing at higher than standard pressures.

Rock testing

Investment in our rock testing laboratory in Bristol has led to us being able to offer UKAS-accredited rock testing capabilities that now include water content, density and porosity, abrasivity, swelling, point load index, uniaxial and triaxial compressive strength, deformation and elastic properties, P- & S-wave velocity, direct shear and indirect tensile strength testing.

Materials testing

The Castleford laboratory offers a range of aggregate testing to BS 812 and BS EN 933 and is supported by the materials and structures team of our parent company, RSK. They can perform a comprehensive range of UKAS-accredited aggregate and concrete tests, including chemical and petrographical analyses.

Standards and accreditation

The laboratories perform most soil testing to BS 1377: Parts1–9:1990, “Soils for civil engineering purposes”, and rock testing to in-house methods based on ISRM “Suggested methods for rock characterization, testing and monitoring” and the relevant ASTM standards. We have recently introduced the new ISO 17892 standards for water content and density analysis.

Please download a copy of our current schedule of accreditation from the UKAS website. 

Clients and projects

The laboratories work on a wide range of projects, from a subsidence problem on a house to major site investigations for nuclear power stations and offshore investigations through to testing-only contracts in Sierra Leone, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kazakhstan, Albania, Egypt, Nigeria and Guinea.


All laboratory testing is processed and stored within a geotechnical database system. Reports can be supplied in paper and PDF format. Data can be supplied in various formats on request. AGS 3.0 and 4.0 data can be produced with ease direct from the database system.

Other Services

In addition to offering a diverse range of services, we can also provided laboratory tours and training to clients’ junior staff. For example, we have sent a technician to Kazakhstan to train a client’s laboratory technicians to carry out rock shear box testing.

Please get in touch if these are of interest to your teams.

1964 - 2016 © Structural Soils Ltd.
Operational engineering head office - The Old School, Stillhouse Lane, Bedminster, Bristol, BS3 4EB, UK.
Tel: 0117 947 1000. E-mail -

Head Office - Spring Lodge, 172 Chester Road, Helsby, WA6 0AR, UK.
Tel: +44 (0)1928 726006.