Radionuclide Migration: Laboratory Experiments with Isolated Fractures


Laboratory experiments examining flow and element migration in rocks containing isolated fractures have been initiated at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Techniques are being developed to establish simple fracture flow systems which are appropriate to models using analytical solutions to the matrix diffusion — flow equations, such as those of I. Neretnieks [1]. These experiments are intended to be intermediate steps toward larger scale field experiments where it may become more difficult to establish and control the parameters important to nuclide migration in fractured media.

Laboratory experiments have been run on fractures ranging in size from 1 to 20 cm in length. The hydraulic flow in these fractures was studied to provide the effective apertures. The flows established in these fracture systems are similar to those in the granite fracture flow experiments of Witherspoon et al. [2]. Traced solutions containing 85Sr and 137Cs were flowed through fractures in Climax Stock granite and welded tuff (Bullfrog and Tram members, Yucca Mountain, Nevada Test Site). The results of the elutions through granite agree with the matrix diffusion calculations based on independent measurements of Kd. The results of the elutions through tuff, however, agree only if the Kd values used in the calculations are lower than the Kd values measured using a batch technique. This trend has been previously observed in chromatographic column experiments with tuff.

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Correspondence to R. S. Rundberg.

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This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Rundberg, R.S., Thompson, J.L. & Maestas, S. Radionuclide Migration: Laboratory Experiments with Isolated Fractures. MRS Online Proceedings Library 6, 239–248 (1981).

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