Influence of faults on groundwater flow and transport at YuccaMountain, Nevada

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Numerical simulations of groundwater flow at Yucca Mountain, Nevada are used to investigate how faults influence groundwater flow pathways and regional-scale macrodispersion. The 3-D model has a unique grid block discretization that facilitates the accurate representation of the complex geologic structure present in faulted formations. 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 varied in displacement varies along strike. In addition, the presence of altered fault zones is explicitly modeled, as appropriate. Simulations show that upward head gradients can be readily explained ... continued below

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Cohen, Andrew J.B. & Sitar, Nicholas October 7, 1999.

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Numerical simulations of groundwater flow at Yucca Mountain, Nevada are used to investigate how faults influence groundwater flow pathways and regional-scale macrodispersion. The 3-D model has a unique grid block discretization that facilitates the accurate representation of the complex geologic structure present in faulted formations. 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 varied in displacement varies along strike. In addition, the presence of altered fault zones is explicitly modeled, as appropriate. Simulations show that upward head gradients can be readily explained by the geometry of hydrogeologic layers, the variability of layer permeabilities, and the presence of permeable fault zones or faults with displacement only, not necessarily by upwelling from a deep aquifer. 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 as a result of groundwater flow into areas with minimal fault displacement. Contaminants originating at the water table can flow in a direction significantly different from that of the water table gradient, and isolated zones of contaminants can occur at the water table downgradient. By conducting both 2-D and 3-D simulations, we show that the 2-D cross-sectional models traditionally used to examine flow in faulted formations may not be appropriate. 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 or inhibit vertical dispersion.

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  • Report No.: LBNL--44635
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • DOI: 10.2172/926686 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 926686
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc894432

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

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  • October 7, 1999

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Dec. 5, 2016, 8:52 p.m.

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Cohen, Andrew J.B. & Sitar, Nicholas. Influence of faults on groundwater flow and transport at YuccaMountain, Nevada, report, October 7, 1999; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc894432/: accessed January 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.