Analysis of Thermally Induced Changes in Fractured Rock Permeability during Eight Years of Heating and Cooling at the Yucca Mountain Drift Scale Test Page: 3 of 48
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a result of several years of thermal and mechanical loading. The DST, which started in 1997,
included a four-year period of forced heating, followed by a four-year period of unforced
(natural) cooling. A volume of over 100,000 m3 of highly fractured volcanic tuff was heated,
including several-tens-of-thousand of cubic meters heated to above boiling temperature. This
massive heating induced strongly coupled thermal-hydrological-mechanical-chemical
(THMC) changes that were continuously monitored by thousands of sensors embedded in the
fractured rock mass. Of particular interest to this study is the periodic active pneumatic (air-
injection) testing used to track changes in air permeability within the variably saturated
fracture system around the DST.
Previous coupled THM analyses of the initial four-year heating period (lasting from
December 1997 through January 2002) indicated that the observed air-permeability changes
were a result of both thermal-mechanical (TM) changes in fracture aperture and thermal-
hydrological (TH) changes in fracture moisture content [2, 3, 4]. Moreover, those previous
analyses indicated that the TM-induced changes in fracture aperture and intrinsic permeability
would be mostly reversible. That is, most TM-induced changes in intrinsic permeability
occurring during heating would diminish when the temperature cooled to ambient. However,
the prediction of reversible behavior was based on analysis of data from the four-year heating
period and did not include the newly available data from the subsequent four-year cooling
In this study, we analyze thermally induced permeability changes at the DST for both the
four-year heating period and the subsequent four-year cooling period. Moreover, whereas the
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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/m1/3/: accessed April 26, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.