Characterization of fractured crystalline rock: two Swedish in situ field experiments
Paper in proceedings, 2014
Construction of a nuclear waste repository requires information and an understanding of the fractured rock. The Swedish concept for nuclear waste deposition that is currently being developed by the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co (SKB) includes a natural barrier in the form of crystalline rock, and engineered barriers in the form of bentonite and a copper canister. This paper aims to present two in situ field experiments: the first is the Large fractures experiment and the second is BRIE, the Bentonite Rock Interaction Experiment. Important issues include possible deformation (shearing) of fractures and deformation zones influencing the localization of canisters, and fluid flow, resulting in hydration of the bentonite. The aim of Large fractures is to further develop strategies and integrated investigation and modelling methodology for the identification and characterization of geological structures to ensure that (size) determination of large fractures or minor deformation zones to a greater extent can be based on real properties and to a lesser degree on a criterion related to the existence of a full perimeter fracture – tunnel intersection. BRIE is a field experiment which addresses the hydraulic interaction between the system components of compacted bentonite and the near-field host rock composed of hard and fractured bedrock. The above experiments are presented in terms of investigations performed to obtain discrete fracture descriptions. Grouting of fractures intersecting the investigation borehole of the Large fractures experiment was designed based on field data and a decrease in flow from above 200 liters/min to below 1 liter/min was achieved. The magnitude of the transmissivity of the fracture/deformation zone that was grouted indicates a large fracture size. This is also indicated by the ongoing integrated interpretation (geology, hydrogeology and geophysics). Results from BRIE show that hydration is uneven and is controlled by the main conductive fracture, highlighting the need for a relevant fracture description.