A method of optically determining a change in magnitude of at least one dimensional characteristic of a sample in response to a selected chamber environment. A magnitude of at least one dimension of the at least one sample may be optically determined subsequent to altering the at least one environmental condition within the chamber. A maximum change in dimension of the at least one sample may be predicted. A dimensional measurement apparatus for indicating a change in at least one dimension of at least one sample. The dimensional measurement apparatus may include a housing with a chamber configured for accommodating pressure changes and an optical perception device for measuring a dimension of at least one sample disposed in the chamber. Methods of simulating injection of a gas into a subterranean formation, injecting gas into a subterranean formation, and producing methane from a coal bed are also disclosed.