Summary of Radionuclide Reactive Transport Experiments in Fractured Tuff and Carbonate Rocks from Yucca Flat, Nevada Test Site

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In the Yucca Flat basin of the Nevada Test Site (NTS), 747 shaft and tunnel nuclear detonations were conducted primarily within the tuff confining unit (TCU) or the overlying alluvium. The TCU in the Yucca Flat basin is hypothesized to inhibit radionuclide migration to the highly transmissive and regionally extensive lower carbonate aquifer (LCA) due to its wide-spread aerial extent, low permeability, and chemical reactivity. However, fast transport pathways through the TCU by way of fractures may provide a migration path for radionuclides to the LCA. Radionuclide transport in both TCU and the LCA fractures is likely to determine the ... continued below

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Zavarin, M; Roberts, S; Reimus, P & Johnson, M October 11, 2006.

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In the Yucca Flat basin of the Nevada Test Site (NTS), 747 shaft and tunnel nuclear detonations were conducted primarily within the tuff confining unit (TCU) or the overlying alluvium. The TCU in the Yucca Flat basin is hypothesized to inhibit radionuclide migration to the highly transmissive and regionally extensive lower carbonate aquifer (LCA) due to its wide-spread aerial extent, low permeability, and chemical reactivity. However, fast transport pathways through the TCU by way of fractures may provide a migration path for radionuclides to the LCA. Radionuclide transport in both TCU and the LCA fractures is likely to determine the location of the contaminant boundary for the Yucca Flat/Climax Mine Corrective Action Unit (CAU). Radionuclide transport through the TCU may involve both matrix and fracture flow. However, radionuclide migration over significant distances is likely to be dominated by fracture transport. Transport through the LCA will almost certainly be dominated by fracture flow, as the LCA has a very dense, low porosity matrix with very low permeability. Because of the complex nature of reactive transport in fractures, a stepwise approach to identifying mechanisms controlling radionuclide transport was used. The simplest LLNL experiments included radionuclide transport through synthetic parallel-plate fractured tuff and carbonate cores. These simplified fracture transport experiments isolated matrix diffusion and sorption effects from all other fracture transport processes (fracture lining mineral sorption, heterogeneous flow, etc.). Additional fracture transport complexity was added by performing induced fractured LCA flowthrough experiments (effect of aperture heterogeneity) or iron oxide coated parallel plate TCU flowthrough experiments (effect of fracture lining minerals). Finally naturally fractured tuff and carbonate cores were examined at LLNL and LANL. All tuff and carbonate core used in the experiments was obtained from the USGS Core Library, Mercury, Nevada. Readers are referred to the original reports ''Radionuclide Transport in Tuff and Carbonate Fractures from Yucca Flat, Nevada Test Site'' (Zavarin et al., 2005) and ''Radionuclide Sorption and Transport in Fractured Rocks of Yucca Flat, Nevada Test Site'' (Ware et al., 2005) for specific details not covered in this summary report.

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PDF-file: 53 pages; size: 1 Mbytes

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  • Report No.: UCRL-TR-225271
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/907824 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 907824
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc878236

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  • October 11, 2006

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 22, 2016, 2:13 a.m.

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  • Dec. 7, 2016, 10:44 p.m.

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Zavarin, M; Roberts, S; Reimus, P & Johnson, M. Summary of Radionuclide Reactive Transport Experiments in Fractured Tuff and Carbonate Rocks from Yucca Flat, Nevada Test Site, report, October 11, 2006; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc878236/: accessed November 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.