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Title: Natural Analoges as a Check of Predicted Drift Stability at Yucca Mountain, Nevada

Abstract

Calculations made by the U.S. Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain Project as part of the licensing of a proposed geologic repository (in southwestern Nevada) for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste, predict that emplacement tunnels will remain open with little collapse long after ground support has disintegrated. This conclusion includes the effects of anticipated seismic events. Natural analogues cannot provide a quantitative test of this conclusion, but they can provide a reasonableness test by examining the natural and anthropogenic examples of stability of subterranean openings. Available data from a variety of sources, combined with limited observations by the author, show that natural underground openings tend to resist collapse for millions of years and that anthropogenic subterranean openings have remained open from before recorded history through today. This stability is true even in seismically active areas. In fact, the archaeological record is heavily skewed toward preservation of underground structures relative to those found at the surface.

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Yucca Mountain Project, Las Vegas, Nevada
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
893593
Report Number(s):
NA
MOL.20060425.0168, DC# 47421; TRN: US0606053
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; HIGH-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTES; LICENSING; NATURAL ANALOGUE; OPENINGS; POSITIONING; PRESERVATION; SEISMIC EVENTS; STABILITY; YUCCA MOUNTAIN

Citation Formats

J. Stuckless. Natural Analoges as a Check of Predicted Drift Stability at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.2172/893593.
J. Stuckless. Natural Analoges as a Check of Predicted Drift Stability at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. United States. doi:10.2172/893593.
J. Stuckless. Fri . "Natural Analoges as a Check of Predicted Drift Stability at Yucca Mountain, Nevada". United States. doi:10.2172/893593. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/893593.
@article{osti_893593,
title = {Natural Analoges as a Check of Predicted Drift Stability at Yucca Mountain, Nevada},
author = {J. Stuckless},
abstractNote = {Calculations made by the U.S. Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain Project as part of the licensing of a proposed geologic repository (in southwestern Nevada) for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste, predict that emplacement tunnels will remain open with little collapse long after ground support has disintegrated. This conclusion includes the effects of anticipated seismic events. Natural analogues cannot provide a quantitative test of this conclusion, but they can provide a reasonableness test by examining the natural and anthropogenic examples of stability of subterranean openings. Available data from a variety of sources, combined with limited observations by the author, show that natural underground openings tend to resist collapse for millions of years and that anthropogenic subterranean openings have remained open from before recorded history through today. This stability is true even in seismically active areas. In fact, the archaeological record is heavily skewed toward preservation of underground structures relative to those found at the surface.},
doi = {10.2172/893593},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Fri Mar 10 00:00:00 EST 2006},
month = {Fri Mar 10 00:00:00 EST 2006}
}

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  • This document is an annual report describing investigations of natural groundwater hazards at the proposed Yucca Mountain, Nevada High-Level Nuclear Waste Repository.This document describes research studies of the origin of near surface calcite/silica deposits at Yucca Mountain. The origin of these deposits is controversial and the authors have extended and strengthened the basis of their arguments for epigenetic, metasomatic alteration of the tuffs at Yucca Mountain. This report includes stratigraphic, mineralogical, and geochronological information along with geochemical data to support the conclusions described by Livingston and Szymanski, and others. As part of their first annual report, they take this opportunitymore » to clarify the technical basis of their concerns and summarize the critical geological field evidence and related information. Selected papers are indexed separately for inclusion in the Energy Science and Technology Database.« less
  • The Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Project is studying Yucca Mountain in southwestern Nevada as a potential site for a high-level nuclear waste repository. Site characterization includes surface-based and underground testing. Analyses have been performed to design site characterization activities with minimal impact on the ability of the site to isolate waste, and on tests performed as part of the characterization process. One activity of site characterization is the construction of an Exploratory Studies Facility, for which many design options are being considered, including shafts, drifts, and ramps. The information in this report pertains to: (1) engineering calculations of the potentialmore » distribution of residual water from constructing the shafts and drifts; (2) numerical calculations predicting the movement of residual construction water from the shaft and drift walls into the rock; and (3) numerical calculations of the movement of residual water and how the movement is affected by ventilation. This document contains information that has been used in preparing Appendix 1 of the Exploratory Studies Facility Design Requirements document for the Yucca Mountain Project.« less
  • The Enhanced Characterization of the Repository Block Cross Drift (Cross Drift) excavated at Yucca Mountain is being studied to determine its suitability as a permanent high-level nuclear waste repository. This report presents a summary of data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) personnel on behalf of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for the Department of Energy in the Cross Drift from Sta. 00+00 to 26+64. This report includes descriptions of lithostratigraphic units, an analysis of data from full-periphery geologic maps (FPGM) and detailed line survey (DLS) data, a detailed description of the Solitario Canyon Fault zone (SCFZ), andmore » an analysis of geotechnical and engineering characteristics. The Cross Drift is excavated entirely within the Topopah Spring Tuff formation of the Paintbrush Group. Units exposed in the crystal-poor member of the Topopah Spring Tuff, include the Topopah Spring crystal-poor upper lithophysal zone (Tptpul) (Sta. 0+00 to 10+15), the Topopah Spring crystal-poor middle nonlithophysal zone (Tptpmn) (Sta. 10+15 to 14+44), the Topopah Spring crystal-poor lower lithophysal zone (Tptpll) (Sta. 14+44 to 23+26), and the Topopah Spring crystal-poor lower nonlithophysal zone (Tptpln) (Sta. 23+26 to 25+85). The lower portion of the Topopah Spring crystal-rich lithophysal transition subzone (Tptrl1) is exposed on the west side of the Solitario Canyon fault from Sta. 26+57.5 to 26+64. Lithologically, the units exposed in the Cross Drift are similar in comparable stratigraphic intervals of the Exploratory Studies Facility (ESF), particularly in terms of welding, secondary crystallization, fracturing, and type, size, color, and abundance of pumice and lithic clasts. The most notable difference is the lack of the intensely fractured zone (IFZ) in the Cross Drift. The as-built cross section and the pre-construction cross section compare favorably. Lithostratigraphic contacts and structures on the pre-construction cross section were encountered where expected. Discrepancies occur at Sta. 22+38 where an unexpected fault was encountered, and in the hanging wall of the SCFZ where west-dipping beds were predicted but not encountered. Also, the pre-construction cross section did not predict the Tptpul/Tptrl contact exposed at Sta. 26+57 of the Cross Drift. The SCFZ has two major normal fault strands, the eastern strand (main splay) and the western strand. The eastern strand has approximately 260 m of normal offset based on stratigraphic relationships and the as-built cross section. The western strand was not penetrated by the tunnel boring machine (TBM) based on programmatic decisions to cease tunnel advancement. The as-built cross section estimates the offset on the western strand to be about 68 m. Footwall deformation in the SCFZ was greater than anticipated by the Geotechnical Baseline Report. The blocky and raveling ground encountered in the footwall was predicted to be more likely to occur in the hanging wall. This may indicate a broad zone of deformation associated with the intersection of additional splays with the eastern strand of the SCFZ.« less
  • Four series of cyclic direct-shear experiments were conducted on several replicas of three natural fractures and a laboratory-developed tensile fracture of welded tuff from Yucca Mountain to test the graphical load-displacement analysis method proposed by Saeb (1989) and Amadei and Saeb (1990). Based on the results of shear tests conducted on several joint replicas under different levels of constant normal load ranging between 0.6 and 25.6 kips (2.7 and 113.9 kN), the shear behavior of joint replicas under constant normal stiffness ranging between 14.8 and 187.5 kips/in. (25.9 and 328.1 kN/cm) was predicted by using the graphical method. The predictionsmore » were compared to the results of actual shear tests conducted for the same range of constant normal stiffness. In general, a good agreement was found between the predicted and the observed shear behavior.« less
  • Preliminary two-dimensional thermal and thermal/mechanical sensitivity analyses of the design of the horizontal emplacement drift were performed for times out to 100 years after waste emplacement. The purpose of the analyses is to provide insight into the relative importance of the thermal and thermal/mechanical properties that impact the stability of the emplacement drift-specifically, heat capacity, conductivity, thermal expansion, insitu thermal gradient, insitu stress, joint cohesion and friction angle, elastic modulus, Poisson`s ratio, rock friction angle, rock compressive and tensile strength. This will help prioritize future characterization and analysis activities prior to development. The model input properties were varied over themore » expected range of their values and the corresponding effect on the temperature, stresses, and safety factors of the rock mass surrounding the drift were recorded. First, the properties were varied individually to determine the independent effects on drift performance. Second, select properties were varied simultaneously to assess joint effects and estimate the probability of undesired drift performance. The results represent a first attempt to estimate the variability of the properties and their effects on the drift. Other sources of variability that can affect drift design are not considered, hence the results are considered preliminary. As site characterization proceeds, the enhanced understanding of property variability will lead to updating the results and conclusions of this report. 15 refs., 2 figs., 8 tabs.« less