To evaluate the importance of matrix diffusion as a mechanism for retarding radionuclide transport in the vicinity of a fault located in unsaturated fractured rock, we carried out an in situ field experiment in the Exploratory Studies Facility at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. This experiment involved the release of ???82,000 L of water over a period of 17 months directly into a near-vertical fault under both constant positive head (at ???0.04 m) and decreasing fluxes. A mix of conservative tracers (pentafluorobenzoic acid (PFBA) and bromide (applied in the form of lithium bromide)) was released along the fault over a period of 9 days, 7 months after the start of water release along the fault. As water was released into the fault, seepage rates were monitored in a large cavity excavated below the test bed. After the release of tracers, seepage water was continuously collected from three locations and analyzed for the injected tracers. Observations of bromide concentrations in seepage water during the early stages of the experiment and bromide and PFBA concentrations in the seepage water indicate the significant effects of matrix diffusion on transport through a fault embedded in fractured, welded rock.
Additional publication details
Unsaturated flow and transport through a fault embedded in fractured welded tuff