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Title: Vertical Variability in Saturated Zone Hydrochemistry Near Yucca Mountain, Nevada

Abstract

The differences in the saturated zone hydrochemistry with depth at borehole NC-EWDP-22PC reflect the addition of recharge along Fortymile Wash. The differences in water chemistry with depth at borehole NC-EWDP-19PB appear to indicate that other processes are involved. Water from the lower part of NC-EWDP-19PB possesses chemical characteristics that clearly indicate that it has undergone cation exchange that resulted in the removal of calcium and magnesium and the addition of sodium. This water is very similar to water from the Western Yucca Mountain facies that has previously been thought to flow west of NC-EWDP-19PB. Water from the lower zone in NC-EWDP-19PB also could represent water from the Eastern Yucca Mountain facies that has moved through clay-bearing or zeolitized aquifer material resulting in the altered chemistry. Water chemistry from the upper part of the saturated zone at NC-EWDP-19PB, both zones at NC-EWDP-22PC, and wells in the Fortymile Wash facies appears to be the result of recharge through the alluvium south of Yucca Mountain and within the Fortymile Wash channel.

Authors:
;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Yucca Mountain Project, Las Vegas, Nevada
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
899951
Report Number(s):
NA
MOL.20070214.0079, DC# 47435; TRN: US0702414
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; AQUIFERS; BOREHOLES; CALCIUM; CATIONS; CHEMISTRY; MAGNESIUM; REMOVAL; SODIUM; WATER; WATER CHEMISTRY; YUCCA MOUNTAIN

Citation Formats

G. Patterson, and P. Striffler. Vertical Variability in Saturated Zone Hydrochemistry Near Yucca Mountain, Nevada. United States: N. p., 2007. Web. doi:10.2172/899951.
G. Patterson, & P. Striffler. Vertical Variability in Saturated Zone Hydrochemistry Near Yucca Mountain, Nevada. United States. doi:10.2172/899951.
G. Patterson, and P. Striffler. Sat . "Vertical Variability in Saturated Zone Hydrochemistry Near Yucca Mountain, Nevada". United States. doi:10.2172/899951. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/899951.
@article{osti_899951,
title = {Vertical Variability in Saturated Zone Hydrochemistry Near Yucca Mountain, Nevada},
author = {G. Patterson and P. Striffler},
abstractNote = {The differences in the saturated zone hydrochemistry with depth at borehole NC-EWDP-22PC reflect the addition of recharge along Fortymile Wash. The differences in water chemistry with depth at borehole NC-EWDP-19PB appear to indicate that other processes are involved. Water from the lower part of NC-EWDP-19PB possesses chemical characteristics that clearly indicate that it has undergone cation exchange that resulted in the removal of calcium and magnesium and the addition of sodium. This water is very similar to water from the Western Yucca Mountain facies that has previously been thought to flow west of NC-EWDP-19PB. Water from the lower zone in NC-EWDP-19PB also could represent water from the Eastern Yucca Mountain facies that has moved through clay-bearing or zeolitized aquifer material resulting in the altered chemistry. Water chemistry from the upper part of the saturated zone at NC-EWDP-19PB, both zones at NC-EWDP-22PC, and wells in the Fortymile Wash facies appears to be the result of recharge through the alluvium south of Yucca Mountain and within the Fortymile Wash channel.},
doi = {10.2172/899951},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Sat Feb 17 00:00:00 EST 2007},
month = {Sat Feb 17 00:00:00 EST 2007}
}

Technical Report:

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  • Distribution of fluid flow is governed by the balance between gravity and capillary forces. The objective of this work is to assess fluid flow in the partially saturated, fractured, porous tuff formations at Yucca Mountain. The effects of eastern tilting of the units at Yucca Mountain on fluid flow has been studied using two-dimensional models. Ghost Dance Fault has been modeled as a seepage face. Under the expected flux conditions, saturation increased just to the west of the fault, but the water did not enter the fault. Tuff matrix and fracture data have been compared to the limited model parametersmore » of the fault; and correlations between saturated conductivity and unsaturated parameters for tuff matrix, fracture, and fault are discussed. 26 refs., 33 figs., 5 tabs.« less
  • The minerals in fractures in drill core USW G-4, from the static water level (SWL) at 1770 ft to the base of the hole at 3000 ft, were studied to determine their identity and depositional sequence and to compare them with those found above the SWL in the same drill hole. There is no change in mineralogy or mineral morphology across the SWL. The significant change in mineralogy and relationship to the host rock occurs at 1381 ft, well above the present water table. Below 1381 ft clinoptilolite appears in the fractures and rock matrix instead of heulandite, and themore » fracture mineralogy correlates with the host rock mineralogy. Throughout most of the saturated zone (below the SWL) in USW G-4, zeolites occur in fractures only in zeolitic tuff; however, zeolites persist in fracture below the base of the deepest zeolitic tuff interval. Nonzeolitic intervals of tuff have fewer fractures, and many of these have no coatings; a few have quartz and feldspar coatings. One interval in zeolitic tuff (2125-2140 ft) contains abundant crisobalite coatings in the fractures. Calcite occurs in fractures from 2575 to 2660 ft, usually with the manganese mineral hollandite, and from 2750 to 2765 ft, usually alone. Manganese minerals occur in several intervals. The spatial correlation of zeolites in fractures with zeolitic host rock suggests that both may have been zeolitized at the same time, possibly by water moving laterally through more permeable zones in the tuff. The continuation of zeolites in fractures below the lowest zeolitic interval in this hole suggests that vertical fracture flow may have been important in the deposition of these coatings. Core from deeper intervals in another hole will be examined to determine if that relationship continues. 17 refs., 19 figs.« less
  • Results of groundwater modeling of the saturated zone in the vicinity of Yucca Mountain are presented. Both a regional (200 {times} 200 km) and subregional (50 {times} 50 km) model were used in the analyses. Simulations were conducted to determine the impact of various disruptive that might take place over the life span of a proposed Yucca Mountain geologic conditions repository on the groundwater flow field, as well as changes in the water-table elevations. These conditions included increases in precipitation and groundwater recharge within the regional model, changes in permeability of existing hydrogeologic barriers, a:nd the vertical intrusion of volcanicmore » dikes at various orientations through the saturated zone. Based on the regional analysis, the rise in the water-table under Yucca Mountain due to various postulated conditions ranged from only a few meters to 275 meters. Results of the subregional model analysis, which was used to simulate intrusive dikes approximately 4 kilometers in length in the vicinity of Yucca Mountain, showed water-table rises ranging from a few meters to as much as 103 meters. Dikes oriented approximately north-south beneath Yucca Mountain produced the highest water-table rises. The conclusions drawn from this analysis are likely to change as more site-specific data become available and as the assumptions in the model are improved.« less
  • Yucca Mountain, which is being studied extensively because it is a potential site for a high-level radioactive-waste repository, consists of a thick sequence of volcanic rocks of Tertiary age that are underlain, at least to the southeast, by carbonate rocks of Paleozoic age. Stratigraphic units important to the hydrology of the area include the alluvium, pyroclastic rocks of Miocene age (the Timber Mountain Group; the Paintbrush Group; the Calico Hills Formation; the Crater Flat Group; the Lithic Ridge Tuff; and older tuffs, flows, and lavas beneath the Lithic Ridge Tuff), and sedimentary rocks of Paleozoic age. The saturated zone generallymore » occurs in the Calico Hills Formation and stratigraphically lower units. The saturated zone is divided into three aquifers and two confining units. The flow system at Yucca Mountain is part of the Alkali Flat-Furnace Creek subbasin of the Death Valley groundwater basin. Variations in the gradients of the potentiometric surface provided the basis for subdividing the Yucca Mountain area into zones of: (1) large hydraulic gradient where potentiometric levels change at least 300 meters in a few kilometers; (2) moderate hydraulic gradient where potentiometric levels change about 45 meters in a few kilometers; and (3) small hydraulic gradient where potentiometric levels change only about 2 meters in several kilometers. Vertical hydraulic gradients were measured in only a few boreholes around Yucca Mountain; most boreholes had little change in potentiometric levels with depth. Limited hydraulic testing of boreholes in the Yucca Mountain area indicated that the range in transmissivity was more than 2 to 3 orders of magnitude in a particular hydrogeologic unit, and that the average values for the individual hydrogeologic units generally differed by about 1 order of magnitude. The upper volcanic aquifer seems to be the most permeable hydrogeologic unit, but this conclusion was based on exceedingly limited data.« less
  • The S{sup 4}Z Model (''sub-site-scale saturated zone'') is a 3-D TOUGH2 model that was developed to study the saturated zone (SZ) at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, and to aid in the design and analysis of hydrologic tests. Yucca Mountain is the proposed site for a nuclear waste repository for the United States. The model covers an area of approximately 100 km{sup 2} around Yucca Mountain, as shown in Figure 1. The proposed repository is located in the unsaturated zone, immediately above the area of equidimensional gridblocks east of Solitario Canyon fault, which defines the crest of Yucca Mountain. The finely discretizedmore » region near the center of the domain corresponds to the area near a cluster of boreholes used for hydraulic and tracer testing. This discretization facilitates simulation of tests conducted there. The hydrogeologic structure beneath the mountain is comprised of dipping geologic units of variable thickness which are offset by faults. One of the primary objectives of the S{sup 4}Z modeling effort is to study the potential effects of the faulted structure on flow. Therefore, replication of the geologic structure in the model mesh is necessary. This paper summarizes (1) the mesh discretization used to capture the faulted geologic structure, and (2) a model simulation that illustrates the significance of the geologic structure on SZ flow and the resulting macrodispersion.« less