Earth Mechanics Institute


The Excavation Engineering and Earth Mechanics Institute (EMI) was established at Colorado School of Mines in 1974 to enhance education and research in the field of excavation technology both for mining and civil underground construction. Over the 30 years of its existence, EMI has developed a suite of physical property tests, cutter and cutterhead evaluation procedures for performance prediction, project costing, and design of mechanical rock excavation tools for all types of mechanical excavators in mining, civil underground construction, and microtunneling. The developed test procedures and the performance/cost prediction models have been validated with extensive field data from excavation and drilling projects around the world.

Areas of basic and applied research at the Institute include:

  • Hard Rock Tunnel Boring Machines
  • Soft Ground TBMs (EPB and Slurry)
  • Microtunneling
  • Raise and Shaft boring
  • Roadheaders (axial and transverse types)
  • Continuous Miners
  • Longwall Drum Shearers
  • Boring Type Miners
  • Mechanical Surface Miners
  • Mechanical Trenchers
  • Oil, Gas and Water Well Drilling
  • Geotechnical Investigations for Tunneling and Mining
  • Computer Modeling for Performance Estimation and Optimization of Mechanical Excavators
  • Project Scheduling and Costing for Tunneling Excavation Projects
  • Cutter and Bit Development
  • Disc Cutter Bearing Evaluations
  • Rock Mechanics, Ground Control and Mine-Design
  • Mine Monitoring and Automation
  • Field Instrumentation of Mechanical Excavators and Drilling Systems
  • Water Jet Drilling and Jet Assisted Cutting

The team at EMI consists of expert professionals, project engineers and technicians. But it also draws on the expertise of other CSM faculty who are highly qualified in the areas of mechanical, civil, electrical, mining, economic and geotechnical engineering.

Graduate students pursue their thesis work on Institute projects while undergraduate students gain valuable exposure to state-of-the-art equipment and research techniques.