Geologic isolation of high-level nuclear waste from the biosphere requires special consideration in countries at high latitudes (>40°N) owing to the possibility of future episodes of continental glaciation (Talbot 1999). It is now widely recognized that Pleistocene continental glaciations have had a profound effect on rates of sediment erosion (Cuffey & Paterson 2010) and deformation including tectonic thrusting (Pedersen 2005) as well as groundwater flow (Person et al. 2007; Lemieux et al. 2008a,b,c). In addition, glacial mechanical loads may have generated anomalous, or fossil, pore pressures within certain clay-rich confining units (e.g. Vinard et al. 2001). Because high-level nuclear wastes must be isolated from the biosphere as long as 1 million years (McMurry et al. 2003), the likelihood of one or more continental ice sheets overrunning high-latitude sites must be considered.
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Geologic isolation of nuclear waste at high latitudes: the role of ice sheets