Coastal and Oceanographic Engineering Laboratory

Coastal and Oceanographic Engineering Laboratory

The Coastal and Oceanographic Engineering Laboratory is located one mile from the University’s main campus and serves as a multi-purpose engineering research space for ESSIE. It serves as the primary support for field experimental research by the Coastal Ecosystem Dynamics and Coastal and Oceanographic faculty and students. The facility also houses large experimental apparatuses for geotechnical and hydrodynamics research.  There is 40,000 square feet of high bay laboratory space, making it uniquely suited to accommodate projects that require large amounts of space while being conveniently located near the main campus. Please contact the lab manager to schedule a meeting.

Field Capabilities


The Laboratory has a long history of involvement with coastal field work and is currently equipped to perform the deployment and recovery of instrumentation. The following equipment is available to aid in conducting research in the field:
  • 14-foot skiff with a 40 horsepower outboard
  • SCUBA equipment
  • A wide variety of instrument mounts


Recently the laboratory has been heavily involved in the development, construction, and testing of full scale grouted deep foundations which require extensive field operations including:
  • Pressurized water jetting of precast piles
  • Side and tip grouting of precast piles and drilled shafts
  • Combined lateral and torsional load testing
  • Lateral load testing
  • Axial load testing

Machine and Fabrication Shop

The Powell Family Structures Laboratory includes a well-equipped machine and fabrication shop with a history of producing everything from precision apparatus to full scale structures.

Material Handling

The laboratory is equipped to handle large structures and material to facilitate experimental research. Available equipment includes:
  • Case skid steer loader
    • (18 horsepower / 4 cubic foot bucket)
  • Taylor Lift
    • (10 ton capacity)

Testing Equipment

Steel Geotechnical Testing Chamber

With a volume of 1,600 cubic feet this is the largest testing chamber in the southeast United States. Vertical geostatic pressure is simulated using pneumatic lift bags and monitored using a variety of in situ soil pressure cells.
  • 20 feet long, 10 feet wide, 8 feet tall
  • Designed for wall deflection less than 3/32 of an inch at geostatic earth pressure of 118 pounds per square inch (150 feet of overburden)
  • Designed to eliminate boundary effects when testing dual pipes up to 36 inches in diameter
  • Observation portals located along the length of the testing chamber allow for monitoring of the pipe’s diameter during loading and placement of instrumentation for real-time measurement of pipe deflection

Deep Foundations Test Chamber

This system was installed at the laboratory in 2006 as part of an effort to develop more cost effective deep foundation construction and installation methods. This unique system not only allows researchers to control soil conditions, but allows for the installation of instrumentation as the chamber is being filled prior to testing. Additionally the chamber provides the stability to safely perform excavations after testing foundations so that they can be inspected.
  • 12 foot diameter steel chamber
  • Maximum depth of 35 feet
  • 2 four foot diameter 40 foot long reaction shafts each capable of providing 300 kips* of reaction force
  • Complete reaction system consisting of beam and connections rated to 600 kips
  • Each reaction shaft was designed with embedded anomalies and 4 tubes for non-destructive testing (NDT) research and training
* 1kip = 1000 pounds-force

Wave Tank

The laboratory wave tank was first built in 1958 and is still in use today. The 6 foot wide by 4 foot tall paddle is actuated by two servo controlled hydraulic cylinders. The servo valve input signal is generated using LabVIEW software and interfaced with servo controller using a National Instruments DAQ. There are 5 capacitor type wave gauges to monitor the water level and wave heights. Minimization of wave reflection is performed with absorbers behind the paddle and downstream with a porous inclined artificial beach that is adjustable.
  • 120 feet long with glass panels along one side for observation
  • 6 feet wide
  • 42 inch maximum water depth
  • Maximum wave height 1 foot (frequency dependent)