Analysis of Thermally Induced Changes in Fractured Rock Permeability during Eight Years of Heating and Cooling at the Yucca Mountain Drift Scale Test Page: 2 of 48
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consistent with either inelastic fracture shear dilation (where permeability increased) or
inelastic fracture surface asperity shortening (where permeability decreased). In this paper, we
discuss the possibility that such fracture asperity shortening and associated decrease in
fracture permeability might be enhanced by dissolution of highly stressed surface asperities
over years of elevated stress and temperature.
Coupled thermal-hydrological-mechanical (THM) processes in geological media must be
assessed when evaluating the performance of a geological nuclear waste repository . The
heat released by the emplaced waste leads to elevated temperature and changes the stress field
in the rock mass for thousands of years. Such elevated temperature and stress lead to changes
in hydrogeological properties that can impact the performance of a geological repository,
because the flow processes in the vicinity of emplacement tunnels would be altered from what
they were initially. Changes in hydrogeological properties may have a bigger impact on the
long-term performance if they are permanent (irreversible), in which case they would persist
after the temperature has cooled down to ambient. That is, they would affect the entire
repository compliance period, which may be as long as a million years.
The Yucca Mountain Drift Scale Test (DST) is a large-scale, multiyear, rock-mass heating
experiment designed to study thermally driven coupled processes in fractured rocks by using
electrical resistance heaters to simulate the thermal loading that results from the emplacement
of radioactive waste, albeit at an accelerated rate. The DST also provides a unique opportunity
to study potential irreversible changes in hydrologic rock mass properties that might occur as
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Rutqvist, J.; Freifeld, B.; Min, K.-B.; Elsworth, D. & Tsang, Y. Analysis of Thermally Induced Changes in Fractured Rock Permeability during Eight Years of Heating and Cooling at the Yucca Mountain Drift Scale Test, article, June 1, 2008; Berkeley, California. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc899651/m1/2/: accessed April 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.