Simulating Effects of Non-Isothermal Flow on Reactive Transport of Radionuclides Originating from an Underground Nuclear Test

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Temperature can significantly affect radionuclide transport behavior. In simulation of radionuclide transport originating from an underground nuclear test, temperature effects from residual test heat include non-isothermal groundwater flow behavior (e.g. convection cells), increased dissolution rates of melt glass containing refractory radionuclides, changes in water chemistry, and, in turn, changes in radionuclide sorption behavior. The low-yield (0.75 kiloton) Cambric underground nuclear test situated in alluvium below the water table offers unique perspectives on radionuclide transport in groundwater. The Cambric test was followed by extensive post-test characterization of the radionuclide source term and a 16-year pumping-induced radionuclide migration experiment that captured more ... continued below

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Carle, S F; Zavarin, M; Shumaker, D E; Tompson, A B; Maxwell, R M & Pawloski, G A March 6, 2006.

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Temperature can significantly affect radionuclide transport behavior. In simulation of radionuclide transport originating from an underground nuclear test, temperature effects from residual test heat include non-isothermal groundwater flow behavior (e.g. convection cells), increased dissolution rates of melt glass containing refractory radionuclides, changes in water chemistry, and, in turn, changes in radionuclide sorption behavior. The low-yield (0.75 kiloton) Cambric underground nuclear test situated in alluvium below the water table offers unique perspectives on radionuclide transport in groundwater. The Cambric test was followed by extensive post-test characterization of the radionuclide source term and a 16-year pumping-induced radionuclide migration experiment that captured more mobile radionuclides in groundwater. Discharge of pumped groundwater caused inadvertent recirculation of radionuclides through a 220-m thick vadose zone to the water table and below, including partial re-capture in the pumping well. Non-isothermal flow simulations indicate test-related heat persists at Cambric for about 10 years and induces limited thermal convection of groundwater. The test heat has relatively little impact on mobilizing radionuclides compared to subsequent pumping effects. However, our reactive transport models indicate test-related heat can raise melt glass dissolution rates up to 10{sup 4} faster than at ambient temperatures depending on pH and species activities. Non-isothermal flow simulations indicate that these elevated glass dissolution rates largely decrease within 1 year. Thermally-induced increases in fluid velocity may also significantly increase rates of melt glass dissolution by changing the fluid chemistry in contact with the dissolving glass.

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PDF-file: 18 pages; size: 1.2 Mbytes

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  • Presented at: Computational Methods in Water Resources XVI, Copenhagen, Denmark, Jun 19 - Jun 22, 2006

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  • Report No.: UCRL-CONF-220496
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 890002
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc884029

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  • March 6, 2006

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  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

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  • Dec. 1, 2016, 8:17 p.m.

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Carle, S F; Zavarin, M; Shumaker, D E; Tompson, A B; Maxwell, R M & Pawloski, G A. Simulating Effects of Non-Isothermal Flow on Reactive Transport of Radionuclides Originating from an Underground Nuclear Test, article, March 6, 2006; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc884029/: accessed August 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.