The Role of Fault Zone in Affecting Multiphase Flow at Yucca Mountain

by Y. W. Tsang, Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Berkeley, United States,
K. Pruess, Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Berkeley, United States,
J. S. Y. Wang, Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Berkeley, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: High Level Radioactive Waste Management 1993


Within Yucca Mountain, the potential High Level Nuclear-Waste Repository site, there are large scale fault zones, most notably the Ghost Dance Fault. The effect of such high-permeability, large-scale discontinuities on the flow and transport is a question of concern in assessing the ability of the site to isolate radio-nuclides from the biosphere. In this paper, we present a numerical study to investigate the role of the fault in affecting both the liquid and gas phase flows in the natural state at Yucca Mountain prior to waste emplacement, as well as after the waste emplacement when the fluid flow is strongly heat-driven. Our study shows that if the characteristic curves of the Ghost Dance Fault obey the same relationship between saturated permeability and capillary scaling parameter, as is observed from the measured data of Yucca Mountain welded and nonwelded tuffs, Apache Leap tuffs, and Las Cruces soil, then a large saturated permeability of the Ghost Dance Fault will play little role in channeling water into the fault, or in enhancing the flow of water down the fault. However, the Fault may greatly enhance the upward gas flow after emplacement of waste. This may have implications on the transport of gaseous radio-nuclides such as C14. The results of this study also focus attention on the need for field measurements of fluid flow in the fault zones.

Subject Headings: Numerical analysis | Flow measurement | Saturated soils | Permeability (soil) | Geological faults | Radioactive wastes | Fluid flow | Groundwater flow | Nevada | United States

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