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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A reliable numerical analysis for large-scale modelling of a high-level radioactive waste repository in the Callovo-Oxfordian claystone


This paper is devoted to the study of the Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical (THM) responses of a porous rock with low permeability under thermal loading in the context of deep geological disposal of radioactive waste. To this aim, numerical simulations of a benchmark exercise of a hypothetical high-level radioactive waste (HLW) repository were performed. This benchmark exercise considered as a host formation the Callovo-Oxfordian claystone (COx), which has been selected for a deep geological disposal in France. Within the framework of the DECOVALEX-2019 project, five modelling teams (Andra, LBNL, NWMO, Quintessa, UFZ/BGR) adopted a thermo-poro-elastic approach and proposed different 3D representations of the HLW repository. The differences between the teams consisted mostly in the simplification of the geometrical model and the interpretation of the boundary conditions. Numerical results for temperature, pore pressure, and effective stress evolution in the far field (i.e., at the mid-distance of two HLW cells) were compared between the teams, to quantify the impact of modelling simplifications/assumptions for the assessment of the HLW repository. The THM behaviour of the COx formation in the near field (i.e., excavation damaged zone around the HLW cells) is not the objective of this study. Moreover, plane strain conditions were considered and evaluated in comparison to 3D modelling. Key parameters influencing the THM responses of the HLW repository were assessed by both mono- and multi-parametric analyses. Spatial variability analyses of THM parameters were also carried out to study the influence of the spatial correlation length on the Terzaghi effective stress and to estimate its probability distribution. The conclusions of this study provide reliable numerical techniques for modelling large-scale deep geological disposals and deduce the main behavior of the HLW repository.

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