The Geotechnical Engineering Group of the University of Trento was constituted in 1990 when Prof. Mongiovì moved to Trento from the Second University of Rome "Tor Vergata". Two years later, he created the Geotechnical Laboratory together with A. Gajo (appointed Assistant Professor in 1992), L. Piffer (she worked as graduate research assistant from 1992 to 1996) and M. Bragagna (technician of the geotechnical laboratory since 1992).


  • A. Gajo - Associate Professor
  • L. Simeoni - Adjunt Professor
  • C. Cecinato - Researcher


The Geotechnical Laboratory is equipped with conventional equipment for saturated soil testing (oedometers, shear boxes, and triaxial cells) and state-of-the-art equipment for unsaturated soil testing. These includes high suction tensiometers (manufactured by the Laboratory), psychrometers, shear boxes with direct measurement of suction, an oedometer with osmotic control of suction, a system for quick detemination of soil water retention curve, an apparatus for investigating stress variables for unsaturated soils. The Laboratory is also specialised in field monitoring of landslides. It is equipped with inclinometers, spiralometers, and water level sensors.
The Geotechnical Laboratory is one of the only two laboratories in the world that manufactures tensiometers for direct measurement of negative pore water pressure down to -2000 kPa.

Research topics and future developments

The research activity of the group covers basic aspects of the hydro-mechanical behaviour of soils (theoretical and experimental) as well as aspects related to engineering practice.

Experimental analysis of the mechanical behaviour of sand. Wave propagation in saturated porous media. Constitutive modelling of saturated granular media and structured clays. Electro-chemo-mechanical coupling in expansive saturated clays, Strain localization in elastoplasticity. [A. Gajo].

Experimental techniques for direct (tensiometer) and indirect measurement of soil suction. Experimental analysis of the stress state variables for unsaturated soils. Stress-strain and shear strength behaviour of unsaturated soils and hydro-mechanical coupling. Effect of microstructure on macroscopic behaviour. [A. Tarantino, L. Mongiovì, M. Boso, S. Tombolato, M. Bragagna].

Numerical modeling of infiltration and evapotranspiration in artificial and natural slopes. Hazard assessment of river banks [A. Tarantino, A. Buscemi, L. Mongiovì].

Analysis and prediction of landslide movements. In-situ inclinometers data control. Time series models for landslide movements. Physical-mathematical modeling of landslide evolution. [L. Simeoni, L. Mongiovì, M. Bragagna].

Micro-mechanics of granular materials, contact mechanics. Slope stability analysis and remedial measures. Reinforced earth structures and tests on geotextiles [L. Mongiovì].

Project participation

The group is very actively involved in research projects related to stability of natural and artificial slopes. These projects are the main resource to finance personnel and the costly laboratory and field equipment. Projects currently underway or recently completed are:
'Reliability of stability analysis methods of earth dams', Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri [L. Mongiovì].
'Movements monitoring of a slide in Castelrotto area (BZ)', Autostrada del Brennero [L. Mongiovì].
'Remedial measures of a slope near Rio Paglia at Castel Valer (TN)', Provincia Autonoma di Trento [L. Mongiovì].
‘Hazard assessment of the banks of the Adige river’, Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano [L. Mongiovì].
‘Mechanics of Unsaturated Soils for Engineering’ Research Training Network, 6th Framework Programme, European Union [A. Tarantino].

International cooperation

The group has strong international research links with many European institutions (Bristol University, ENPG in Grenoble, University of Manitoba, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya). The group is member of the Technical Committee TC6 (Unsaturated Soils) of the International Society of Soil Mechanics (ISSMGE) and is organiser of an ISSMGE International Conference in co-operation with the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (scheduled for 2005).

The group participates in an EU Research Training Network along with Durham University, Glasgow University, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, and Università di Napoli Federico II.