Experiments on thermo-hydro-mechanical behaviour of Opalinus Clay at Mont Terri rock laboratory, Switzerland

Published on Jun 1, 2017in Journal of rock mechanics and geotechnical engineering4.338
· DOI :10.1016/J.JRMGE.2016.11.014
Paul Bossart12
Estimated H-index: 12
David Jaeggi6
Estimated H-index: 6
Christophe Nussbaum14
Estimated H-index: 14
Abstract Repositories for deep geological disposal of radioactive waste rely on multi-barrier systems to isolate waste from the biosphere. A multi-barrier system typically comprises the natural geological barrier provided by the repository host rock – in our case the Opalinus Clay – and an engineered barrier system (EBS). The Swiss repository concept for spent fuel and vitrified high-level waste (HLW) consists of waste canisters, which are emplaced horizontally in the middle of an emplacement gallery and are separated from the gallery wall by granular backfill material (GBM). We describe here a selection of five in-situ experiments where characteristic hydro-mechanical (HM) and thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) processes have been observed. The first example is a coupled HM and mine-by test where the evolution of the excavation damaged zone (EDZ) was monitored around a gallery in the Opalinus Clay (ED-B experiment). Measurements of pore-water pressures and convergences due to stress redistribution during excavation highlighted the HM behaviour. The same measurements were subsequently carried out in a heater test (HE-D) where we were able to characterise the Opalinus Clay in terms of its THM behaviour. These yielded detailed data to better understand the THM behaviours of the granular backfill and the natural host rock. For a presentation of the Swiss concept for HLW storage, we designed three demonstration experiments that were subsequently implemented in the Mont Terri rock laboratory: (1) the engineered barrier (EB) experiment, (2) the in-situ heater test on key-THM processes and parameters (HE-E) experiment, and (3) the full-scale emplacement (FE) experiment. The first demonstration experiment has been dismantled, but the last two ones are on-going.
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