You are here: Home / Infrastructures / Res. Infrastructure
Geotechnical Centrifuge IFSTTAR Nantes (IFSTTAR GERS)
Hosting Legal Entity
French institute of science and technology for transport, spatial planning, development and networks
Route de Bouaye, CS4, IFSTTAR Centre de Nantes / Bâtiment BOUGUER, Bouguenais (Nantes), PO: 44344, Pays de la Loire (France)
Type Of RI
Coordinating Country
Current Status:
Operational since 1985
Scientific Description
This piece of equipment (radius = 5.5m) is one of the biggest stars at the Nantes facility and almost always a highlight on the Center’s guided tour. Operational since 1985 within a specially-fitted 1100-m2 building, the geotechnical centrifuge - affectionately known as the "centrif" – makes it possible to study the behaviour of geotechnical structures, such as foundations, offshore anchorages, embankments or supports, using reduced-scale models. The scale-reduction factor of the models is equal to the centrifugal acceleration being applied, up to a maximum of 200xg. The loads are applied in flight using jacks or the robot, controlled from the centrifuge operator’s room. An earthquake simulator is also available for simulating, in flight, 1D horizontal shaking. The results obtained may then be directly transposed to the full-sized structures, or compared to numerical simulation.Thanks to the centrifuge team own workshops, all of the experimental phases can be conducted on site, from the assembling of test models to the processing of data collected during testing. The centrifuge team includes 10 permanent people.The geo-centrifuge, owned by Ifsttar, is accessible to academic research centers or private companies. This facility is involved in many regional, national, european or international projects, and reprensented in the Technical Committee TC104 of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.The centrifuge may also be used for g-level qualification tests in the field of aeronautics or medicine.GARR participates in EC-funded R&D projects that are relevant to its mission and to requests received by its community. Funding by the EC is a small part of the GARR budget; however, EC projects are considered a very important opportunity to develop interoperable solutions for the benefit of the research and education community in Europe and worldwide.

RI Keywords
Earthquake simulation, Foundation, Centrifuge, Physical modelling, G-level, Macrogravity, Soil reinforcement, Geotechnics, Complex loading, Off-shore foundation
RI Category
Mechanical Engineering Facilities
Civil Engineering Research Infrastructures
Earthquake Simulation Laboratories
Scientific Domain
Engineering and Energy
ESFRI Domain
Physical Sciences and Engineering
Design and preparation of centrifuge models

Technical team available for integrating research questions towards centrifuge models

Centrifuge Tests

Assistance in the realization of centrifuge tests.

In-flight characterization test

Cone Penetration Test, Vane Test, T-Bar Test or Pressuremeter Test have been miniaturized for centrifuge testing.

Earthquake simulator

Installed in the centrifuge swinging basket, the E.S. allows 1D horizontal shaking, including sine signal or earthquake signal.

4-axis Robot

Installed in the centrifuge basket, the robot makes it possible to perform tests without stopping the centrifuge. It moves following the 3 cartesian axes and with a vertical axis rotation.

Data acquisition systems

Several D.A.S. are available for recording both dynamics or quasi-statics data.


Several hydraulic, electric or piezo-electric actuators are available for centrifuge testing.

NECER : Network of European CEntrifige for Research
TC104 Physical Modelling in Geotechnics
Date of last update: 22/02/2019
Printable version