Preliminary Estimates of Specific Discharge and Transport Velocities near Borehole
This report summarizes fluid electrical conductivity (FEC) and thermal logging data collected in Borehole NC-EWDP-24PB, located approximately 15 km south of the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain. Preliminary analyses of a small fraction of the FEC and temperature data indicate that relatively large, localized fluid fluxes are likely to exist at this location. The implication that considerable flow is induced by small gradients, and that flow is highly localized, is significant for the estimation of groundwater transport velocities and radionuclide travel times. The sensitivity of the data to potential perturbations during testing (i.e., internal wellbore flow in the case of FEC data, and buoyancy effects in the case of thermal logging data) make it difficult to conclusively derive fluid fluxes and transport velocities without a detailed analysis of all data and processes involved. Such a comprehensive analysis has not yet been performed. However, the preliminary results suggest that the ambient component of the estimated flow rates is significant and on the order of liters per minute, yielding groundwater transport velocities in the range of kilometers per year. One particular zone in the Bullfrog tuff exhibits estimated velocities on the order of 10 km/yr. Given that the preliminary estimates of ambient flow rates and transport velocities are relatively high, and considering the potential impact of high rates and velocities on saturated-zone flow and transport behavior, we recommend that a comprehensive analysis of all the available data be performed. Moreover, additional data sets at other locations should be collected to examine whether the current data set is representative of the regional flow system near Yucca Mountain.