Field measurements of tracer gas transport by barometric pumping

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Vertical gas motions induced by barometric pressure variations can carry radioactive gases out of the rubblized region produced by an underground nuclear explosion, through overburden rock, into the atmosphere. To better quantify transit time and amount of transport, field experiments were conducted at two sites on Pahute Mesa, Kapelli and Tierra, where radioactive gases had been earlier detected in surface cracks. At each site, two tracer gases were injected into the rubblized chimney 300-400 m beneath the surface and their arrival was monitored by concentration measurements in gas samples extracted from shallow collection holes. The first ``active`` tracer was driven ... continued below

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49 p.

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Lagus, P.L.; McKinnis, W.B.; Hearst, J.R.; Burkhard, N.R. & Smith, C.F. July 28, 1994.

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Description

Vertical gas motions induced by barometric pressure variations can carry radioactive gases out of the rubblized region produced by an underground nuclear explosion, through overburden rock, into the atmosphere. To better quantify transit time and amount of transport, field experiments were conducted at two sites on Pahute Mesa, Kapelli and Tierra, where radioactive gases had been earlier detected in surface cracks. At each site, two tracer gases were injected into the rubblized chimney 300-400 m beneath the surface and their arrival was monitored by concentration measurements in gas samples extracted from shallow collection holes. The first ``active`` tracer was driven by a large quantity of injected air; the second ``passive`` tracer was introduced with minimal gas drive to observe the natural transport by barometric pumping. Kapelli was injected in the fall of 1990, followed by Tierra in the fall of 1991. Data was collected at both sites through the summer of 1993. At both sites, no surface arrival of tracer was observed during the active phase of the experiment despite the injection of several million cubic feet of air, suggesting that cavity pressurization is likely to induce horizontal transport along high permeability layers rather than vertical transport to the surface. In contrast, the vertical pressure gradients associated with barometric pumping brought both tracers to the surface in comparable concentrations within three months at Kapelli, whereas 15 months elapsed before surface arrival at Tierra. At Kapelli, a quasisteady pumping regime was established, with tracer concentrations in effluent gases 1000 times smaller than concentrations thought to exist in the chimney. Tracer concentrations observed at Tierra were typically an order of magnitude smaller. Comparisons with theoretical calculations suggest that the gases are traveling through {approximately}1 millimeter vertical fractures spaced 2 to 4 meters apart. 6 refs., 18 figs., 3 tabs.

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49 p.

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INIS; OSTI as DE96009899

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  • Other Information: PBD: 28 Jul 1994

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  • Other: DE96009899
  • Report No.: UCRL-CR--119147
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/225021 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 225021
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc672577

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  • July 28, 1994

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • June 29, 2015, 9:42 p.m.

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  • Aug. 1, 2016, 1:04 p.m.

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Lagus, P.L.; McKinnis, W.B.; Hearst, J.R.; Burkhard, N.R. & Smith, C.F. Field measurements of tracer gas transport by barometric pumping, report, July 28, 1994; California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc672577/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.