Estimates of the width of the wetting zone along a fracture subjected to an episodic infiltration event in variably saturated, densely welded tuff
Description: A central issue to be addressed within the Nevada Nuclear Waste Storage Investigations (NNWSI) is the role which fractures will play as the variably saturated, fractured rock mass surrounding the waste package responds to heating, cooling, and episodic infiltration events. Understanding the role of fractures during such events will, in part, depend on our ability to make geophysical measurements of perturbations in the moisture distribution in the vicinity of fractures. In this study we first examine the details of the perturbation in the moisture distribution in and around a fracture subjected to an episodic infiltration event, and then integrate that behavior over the scale at which moisture measurements are likely to be made during the Engineered Barrier Design Test of the NNWSI project. To model this system we use the TOUGH hydrothermal code and fracture and matrix properties considered relevant to the welded ash flow tuff found in the Topopah Spring member at Yucca Mountain as well as in the Grouse Canyon member within G-Tunnel at the Nevada Test Site. Our calculations provide insight into the anticipated spatial and temporal resolution obtainable through the use of the geophysical techniques being considered. These calculations should prove useful both in planning the implementation of these methods as well as in the interpretation of their results. 41 refs., 28 figs.
Date: May 31, 1988
Creator: Buscheck, T.A. & Nitao, J.J.
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