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Title: A MOUNTAIN-SCALE 3-D NUMERICAL MODEL FOR CHARACTERIZING UNSATURATED FLOW AND TRANSPORT IN FRACTURED VOLCANIC ROCK AT YUCCA MOUNTAIN

Abstract

A three-dimensional site-scale numerical model has been developed to simulate water and gas flow, heat transfer, and radionuclide transport in the unsaturated zone of Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the American underground repository site for high level radioactive waste. The modeling approach is based on a mathematical formulation of coupled multiphase fluid and heat flow and tracer transport through porous and fractured rock. This model is intended for use in predicting current and future conditions in the unsaturated zone, so as to aid in assessing the system performance of the repository. In particular, an integrated modeling methodology is discussed for integrating a wide variety of moisture, pneumatic, thermal, and isotopic geochemical data into comprehensive modeling analyses. The reliability and accuracy of the model predictions were the subject of a comprehensive model calibration study, in which the model was calibrated against measured data, including liquid saturation, water potential, and temperature. This study indicates that the model is able to reproduce the overall system behavior at Yucca Mountain with respect to moisture profiles, pneumatic pressure and chloride concentration variations in different geological units, and ambient geothermal conditions.

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Yucca Mountain Project, Las Vegas, Nevada
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
884906
Report Number(s):
NA
MOL.20060405.0103, DC#47319; TRN: US0603804
DOE Contract Number:
NA
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
12 MANAGEMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES, AND NON-RADIOACTIVE WASTES FROM NUCLEAR FACILITIES; ACCURACY; CALIBRATION; CHLORIDES; GAS FLOW; HEAT FLUX; HEAT TRANSFER; MOISTURE; PNEUMATICS; RADIOACTIVE WASTES; RADIOISOTOPES; RELIABILITY; SATURATION; SIMULATION; TRANSPORT; VOLCANIC ROCKS; WATER; YUCCA MOUNTAIN

Citation Formats

Yu-Shu Wu. A MOUNTAIN-SCALE 3-D NUMERICAL MODEL FOR CHARACTERIZING UNSATURATED FLOW AND TRANSPORT IN FRACTURED VOLCANIC ROCK AT YUCCA MOUNTAIN. United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.2172/884906.
Yu-Shu Wu. A MOUNTAIN-SCALE 3-D NUMERICAL MODEL FOR CHARACTERIZING UNSATURATED FLOW AND TRANSPORT IN FRACTURED VOLCANIC ROCK AT YUCCA MOUNTAIN. United States. doi:10.2172/884906.
Yu-Shu Wu. Tue . "A MOUNTAIN-SCALE 3-D NUMERICAL MODEL FOR CHARACTERIZING UNSATURATED FLOW AND TRANSPORT IN FRACTURED VOLCANIC ROCK AT YUCCA MOUNTAIN". United States. doi:10.2172/884906. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/884906.
@article{osti_884906,
title = {A MOUNTAIN-SCALE 3-D NUMERICAL MODEL FOR CHARACTERIZING UNSATURATED FLOW AND TRANSPORT IN FRACTURED VOLCANIC ROCK AT YUCCA MOUNTAIN},
author = {Yu-Shu Wu},
abstractNote = {A three-dimensional site-scale numerical model has been developed to simulate water and gas flow, heat transfer, and radionuclide transport in the unsaturated zone of Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the American underground repository site for high level radioactive waste. The modeling approach is based on a mathematical formulation of coupled multiphase fluid and heat flow and tracer transport through porous and fractured rock. This model is intended for use in predicting current and future conditions in the unsaturated zone, so as to aid in assessing the system performance of the repository. In particular, an integrated modeling methodology is discussed for integrating a wide variety of moisture, pneumatic, thermal, and isotopic geochemical data into comprehensive modeling analyses. The reliability and accuracy of the model predictions were the subject of a comprehensive model calibration study, in which the model was calibrated against measured data, including liquid saturation, water potential, and temperature. This study indicates that the model is able to reproduce the overall system behavior at Yucca Mountain with respect to moisture profiles, pneumatic pressure and chloride concentration variations in different geological units, and ambient geothermal conditions.},
doi = {10.2172/884906},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue Feb 28 00:00:00 EST 2006},
month = {Tue Feb 28 00:00:00 EST 2006}
}

Technical Report:

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  • This paper presents a large-scale modeling study characterizing fluid flow and tracer transport in the unsaturated zone of Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the proposed underground repository site for storing high-level radioactive waste. The modeling study is conducted using a three-dimensional numerical model, which incorporates a wide variety of field data and takes into account the coupled processes of flow and transport in Yucca Mountain's highly heterogeneous, unsaturated, fractured porous rock. The modeling approach is based on a dual-continuum formulation. Using different conceptual models of unsaturated flow, various scenarios of current and future climate conditions and their effects on the unsaturated zonemore » are evaluated to aid in the assessment of the repository's system performance. These models are calibrated against field-measured data. Model-predicted flow and transport processes under current and future climates are discussed.« less
  • Numerical analysis is used to identify the physical phenomena associated with barometrically driven gas (air and water vapor) flow through unsaturated fractured rock at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Results from simple finite difference simulations indicate that for a fractured rock scenario, the maximum velocity of air out of an uncased 10 cm borehole is 0.002 m s{sub {minus}1}. An equivalent porous medium (EPM) model was incorporated into a multiphase, multicomponent simulator to test more complex conceptual models. Results indicate that for a typical June day, a diurnal pressure wave propagates about 160 m into the surrounding Tiva Canyon hydrogeologic unit. Drymore » air that enters the formation evaporates water around the borehole which reduces capillary pressure. Multiphase countercurrent flow develops in the vicinity of the hole; the gas phase flows into the formation while the liquid phase flows toward the borehole. The effect occurs within 0.5 m of the borehole. The amount of water vapor leaving the formation during 1 day is 900 cm{sup 3}. This is less than 0.1% of the total recharge into the formation, suggesting that the barometric effect may be insignificant in drying the unsaturated zone. However, gas phase velocities out of the borehole (3 m s{sup {minus}1}), indicating that observed flow rates from wells along the east flank of Yucca Mountain were able to be simulated with a barometric model.« less
  • As part of the Yucca Mountain Project, our research program to develop and validate conceptual models for flow and transport through unsaturated fractured rock integrates fundamental physical experimentation with conceptual model formulation and mathematical modeling. Our research is directed toward developing and validating macroscopic, continuum-based models and supporting effective property models because of their widespread utility within the context of this project. Success relative to the development and validation of effective property models is predicted on a firm understanding of the basic physics governing flow through fractured media, specifically in the areas of unsaturated flow and transport in a singlemore » fracture and fracture-matrix interaction.« less
  • The Hydrologic Code Intercomparison Project (HYDROCOIN) was formed to evaluate hydrogeologic models and computer codes and their use in performance assessment for high-level radioactive-waste repositories. This report describes the results of a study for HYDROCOIN of model sensitivity for isothermal, unsaturated flow through layered, fractured tuffs. We investigated both the types of flow behavior that dominate the performance measures and the conditions and model parameters that control flow behavior. We also examined the effect of different conceptual models and modeling approaches on our understanding of system behavior. The analyses included single- and multiple-parameter variations about base cases in one-dimensional steadymore » and transient flow and in two-dimensional steady flow. The flow behavior is complex even for the highly simplified and constrained system modeled here. The response of the performance measures is both nonlinear and nonmonotonic. System behavior is dominated by abrupt transitions from matrix to fracture flow and by lateral diversion of flow. The observed behaviors are strongly influenced by the imposed boundary conditions and model constraints. Applied flux plays a critical role in determining the flow type but interacts strongly with the composite-conductivity curves of individual hydrologic units and with the stratigraphy. One-dimensional modeling yields conservative estimates of distributions of groundwater travel time only under very limited conditions. This study demonstrates that it is wrong to equate the shortest possible water-travel path with the fastest path from the repository to the water table. 20 refs., 234 figs., 10 tabs.« less