Three-dimensional numerical modeling of the influence of faults on groundwater flow at Yucca Mountain, Nevada

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Numerical simulations of groundwater flow at Yucca Mountain, Nevada are used to investigate how the faulted hydrogeologic structure influences groundwater flow from a proposed high-level nuclear waste repository. Simulations are performed using a 3-D model that has a unique grid block discretization to accurately represent the faulted geologic units, which have variable thicknesses and orientations. Irregular grid blocks enable explicit representation of these features. Each hydrogeologic layer is discretized into a single layer of irregular and dipping grid blocks, and faults are discretized such that they are laterally continuous and displacement varies along strike. In addition, the presence of altered ... continued below

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Medium: P; Size: 168 pages

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Cohen, Andrew J. B. June 1, 1999.

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Description

Numerical simulations of groundwater flow at Yucca Mountain, Nevada are used to investigate how the faulted hydrogeologic structure influences groundwater flow from a proposed high-level nuclear waste repository. Simulations are performed using a 3-D model that has a unique grid block discretization to accurately represent the faulted geologic units, which have variable thicknesses and orientations. Irregular grid blocks enable explicit representation of these features. Each hydrogeologic layer is discretized into a single layer of irregular and dipping grid blocks, and faults are discretized such that they are laterally continuous and displacement varies along strike. In addition, the presence of altered fault zones is explicitly modeled, as appropriate. The model has 23 layers and 11 faults, and approximately 57,000 grid blocks and 200,000 grid block connections. In the past, field measurement of upward vertical head gradients and high water table temperatures near faults were interpreted as indicators of upwelling from a deep carbonate aquifer. Simulations show, however, that these features can be readily explained by the geometry of hydrogeologic layers, the variability of layer permeabilities and thermal conductivities, and by the presence of permeable fault zones or faults with displacement only. In addition, a moderate water table gradient can result from fault displacement or a laterally continuous low permeability fault zone, but not from a high permeability fault zone, as others postulated earlier. Large-scale macrodispersion results from the vertical and lateral diversion of flow near the contact of high and low permeability layers at faults, and from upward flow within high permeability fault zones. Conversely, large-scale channeling can occur due to groundwater flow into areas with minimal fault displacement. Contaminants originating at the water table can flow in a direction significantly different than that of the water table gradient, and isolated zones of contaminants will occur at the water table downgradient. This behavior is not predicted by traditional models of contaminant transport. In addition, the influence of a particular type of fault cannot be generalized; depending on the location where contaminants enter the saturated zone, faults may either enhance of inhibit vertical dispersion.

Physical Description

Medium: P; Size: 168 pages

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INIS; OSTI as DE00752233

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  • Other Information: TH: Thesis (Ph.D.); Submitted to Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (US)

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  • Report No.: LBNL--43377
  • Grant Number: AC03-76SF00098
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 752233
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc706805

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • June 1, 1999

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 12, 2015, 6:31 a.m.

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  • March 23, 2018, 4:06 p.m.

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Cohen, Andrew J. B. Three-dimensional numerical modeling of the influence of faults on groundwater flow at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, thesis or dissertation, June 1, 1999; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc706805/: accessed April 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.