An integrated methodology for characterizing flow and transport processes in fractured rock
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An integrated methodology for characterizing flow and transport processes in fractured rock

Abstract

To investigate the coupled processes involved in fluid and heat flow and chemical transport in the highly heterogeneous, unsaturated-zone (UZ) fractured rock of Yucca Mountain, we present an integrated modeling methodology. This approach integrates a wide variety of moisture, pneumatic, thermal, and geochemical isotopic field data into a comprehensive three-dimensional numerical model for modeling analyses. The results of field applications of the methodology show that moisture data, such as water potential and liquid saturation, are not sufficient to determine in situ percolation flux, whereas temperature and geochemical isotopic data provide better constraints to net infiltration rates and flow patterns. In addition, pneumatic data are found to be extremely valuable in estimating large-scale fracture permeability. The integration of hydrologic, pneumatic, temperature, and geochemical data into modeling analyses is thereby demonstrated to provide a practical modeling approach for characterizing flow and transport processes in complex fractured formations.

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