Evaluation of potential high-level nuclear waste repository sites is an area where geophysical capabilities and limitations may significantly impact a major governmental program. Since there is concern that extensive exploratory drilling might degrade most potential disposal sites, geophysical methods become crucial as the only nondestructive means to examine large volumes of rock in three dimensions. Characterization of potential sites requires geophysicists to alter their usual mode of thinking: no longer are anomalies being sought, as in mineral exploration, but rather their absence. Thus the size of features that might go undetected by a particular method take on new significance. Legal and regulatory considerations that stem from this different outlook, most notably the requirements of quality assurance (necessary for any data used in support of a repository license application), are forcing changes in the manner in which geophysicists collect and document their data. -Authors
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Role of geophysics in identifying and characterizing sites for high-level nuclear waste repositories.