Study of the hydrologic system at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, requires the extraction of pore-water samples from welded and nonwelded, unsaturated tuffs. Two compression methods (triaxial compression and one-dimensional compression) were examined to develop a repeatable extraction technique and to investigate the effects of the extraction method on the original pore-fluid composition. A commercially available triaxial cell was modified to collect pore water expelled from tuff cores. The triaxial cell applied a maximum axial stress of 193 MPa and a maximum confining stress of 68 MPa. Results obtained from triaxial compression testing indicated that pore-water samples could be obtained from nonwelded tuff cores that had initial moisture contents as small as 13 percent (by weight of dry soil). Injection of nitrogen gas while the test core was held at the maximum axial stress caused expulsion of additional pore water and reduced the required initial moisture content from 13 to 11 percent. Experimental calculations, together with experience gained from testing moderately welded tuff cores, indicated that the triaxial cell used in this study could not apply adequate axial or confining stress to expel pore water from cores of densely welded tuffs. This concern led to the design, fabrication, and testing of a one-dimensional compression cell. The one-dimensional compression cell used in this study was constructed from hardened 4340-alloy and nickel-alloy steels and could apply a maximum axial stress of 552 MPa. The major components of the device include a corpus ring and sample sleeve to confine the sample, a piston and base platen to apply axial load, and drainage plates to transmit expelled water from the test core out of the cell. One-dimensional compression extracted pore water from nonwelded tuff cores that had initial moisture contents as small as 7.6 percent; pore water was expelled from densely welded tuff cores that had initial moisture contents as small as 7.7 percent. Injection of nitrogen gas at the maximum axial stress did not produce additional pore water from nonwelded tuff cores, but was critical to recovery of pore water from densely welded tuff cores. Gas injection reduced the required initial moisture content in welded tuff cores from 7.7 to 6.5 percent. Based on the mechanical ability of a pore-water extraction method to remove water from welded and nonwelded tuff cores, one-dimensional compression is a more effective extraction method than triaxial compression. However, because the effects that one-dimensional compression has on pore-water chemistry are not completely understood, additional testing will be needed to verify that this method is suitable for pore-water extraction from Yucca Mountain tuffs.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Pore-water extraction from unsaturated tuff by triaxial and one-dimensional compression methods, Nevada Test Site, Nevada
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey :
U.S. Geological Survey, Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section, [distributor],