Rock Mechanics

Hands-on demonstrations showing how rocks deform.

Rocks behave differently depending on how deeply they are buried. Near the surface of the Earth, rocks are cold and brittle and will crack or slide under stress, which gives rise to phenomena such as earthquakes. Deep within the Earth, rocks flow like honey, only much more slowly. The Rock Mechanics Lab has hands-on demonstrations showing how rocks deform and why this behavior changes with temperature and pressure. Demonstrations include visualizing mini-earthquakes that we make in the lab, breaking rocks with a hydraulic press, and how you can bend a rock with your bare hands! Come and learn how the Earth is moving right beneath your feet.