Title: Effect of excavation induced fractures on radionuclide migration through the Boom Clay (Belgium)
Authors: Huysmans, Marijke ×
Berckmans, Arne
Dassargues, Alain #
Issue Date: Aug-2006
Publisher: Elsevier science bv
Series Title: Applied clay science vol:33 issue:3-4 pages:207-218
Abstract: In Belgium, the Boom Clay is being evaluated as a potential host formation for the disposal of high-level nuclear waste. In order to investigate this option, an underground research facility composed of two access shafts and 200m of galleries was excavated. Excavation induced fractures were observed in a zone of approximately 1 m around the galleries. In this study, the potential effect of these fractures on radionuclide migration in the Boom Clay is investigated. Therefore, a hydrogeological model of the clay is built with a radionuclide source in the middle of the clay layer surrounded by different fracture configurations. Two types of fracture configurations are inserted in the model. The first type of fracture properties is drawn stochastically from the probability distributions of the properties of the fractures observed around previously excavated galleries. These fracture patterns are considered to be realistic although in this study it is conservatively assumed that no self-sealing occurs. The model is run for a large number of stochastically drawn fracture configurations and the results are compared to a model without fractures. These calculations show that the radionuclide fluxes through the clay are not significantly influenced by these fractures. For the second type of fracture configurations, the fracture properties are varied over a much larger range. Hypothetical fractures with much higher values of fracture extent, aperture, dip and frequency than observed are modeled, With these hypothetical fracture configurations, the critical values of the fracture parameters are determined that must be exceeded to have a significant effect on the radionuclide fluxes through the clay. These calculations show that the extent of the fractured zone has the largest effect on radionuclide migration. The other fracture parameters (aperture, spacing and dip) have a limited effect on the radionuclide fluxes. To obtain a total radionuclide flux through the lower clay boundary that is respectively 10%, 50% and 100% larger than without a fractured zone, the extent of the hypothetical fractured zone should be respectively 27.97 m, 43.86 m and 46.92 m. Such fractures are not expected to be generated by mechanical excavation in the Boom Clay. The obtained critical extent values of the hypothetical fractures are a factor 30 to 40 higher than the measured values of the extent of the excavation disturbed zone. These calculations thus indicate that it is very unlikely that the extent of the fractured zone around the galleries will be large enough to have a significant effect on the radionuclide fluxes through the Boom Clay. This conclusion is further supported by the conservative assumption that no self-sealing occurs. These calculations can function as a preliminary robustness test in ongoing safety analysis studies. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
ISSN: 0169-1317
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Teacher Training Geography - Geology (-)
Division of Geology
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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