Approach to estimating the maximum depth for glacially induced hydraulic jacking in fractured crystalline rock at Forsmark, Sweden
Journal article, 2013
Hydraulic jacking is a significant dilation of a fracture that occurs when the pore pressure within it exceeds the sum of the fracture's normal stress and tensile strength. This phenomenon may occur during a glacial period because of changes in hydraulic and mechanical boundary conditions. Since hydraulic jacking may alter flow patterns and the transport capacity of the rock mass, its possible effects on the long-term performance of a nuclear waste repository should be considered. We develop an approach to assess glacially induced hydraulic jacking in fractured crystalline rock and establish bounding estimates of the maximum jacking depth for the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company's (SKB) repository site at Forsmark. The pore pressure is estimated using mechanically uncoupled two-dimensional poroelastic continuum models with hydraulic and mechanical conditions based on SKB's reconstruction of the Weichselian glaciation at this site (120-0kaB.P.). For warm-based conditions, the water pressure at the ice/bed interface is set at 98% of the mechanical load, whereas for glacial conditions with extensive proglacial permafrost, the corresponding water pressure is set at a (lower) annual average value. We demonstrate that the pore pressure within the uppermost kilometer of rock is mainly governed by the water pressure at the ice/bed interface and that the mechanical impact of the ice load on the pore pressure is sufficiently small to be ignored. Given the current and estimated future stress conditions at Forsmark, hydraulic jacking is mainly of concern for subhorizontal fractures, i.e., it is sufficient to consider situations when the pore pressure exceeds the vertical stress. We conclude that hydraulic jacking at Forsmark will be confined to the uppermost 200m of the rock mass.