Open access publication

Hydro‑mechanical Response to Gas Transfer of Deep Argillaceous Host Rocks for Radioactive Waste Disposal

During recent decades, argillaceous sedimentary formations have been studied as potential host formations for the geological disposal of long-living and heat-emitting radioactive waste—Boom Clay in Belgium and Opalinus Clay and Brown Dogger in Switzerland. A significant issue in the long-term performance of these potential host rocks concerns the generation and transport of gases. The pressure resulting from the generation of gas in an almost impermeable geological medium in the near field of a repository will increase. Under high gas pressures, the mechanical and hydraulic properties of the host rock are expected to change significantly. Preferential gas pathways may develop which exploit material heterogeneity, anisotropy (bedding planes), rock discontinuities, or interfaces between the different components of the repository, and may eventually lead to the release of the produced gases. Gas flow through these clayey rocks is investigated on the basis of laboratory work. Priority has been given to studying the volume change response of these initially water-saturated materials through relatively fast and controlled volume-rate gas injections. The effect of the gas injection rate, the confining pressure and the bedding orientation on the gas transport properties have been studied with particular attention paid to the coupling with strain behaviour. The results have shown features common to the three formations concerning the gas transfer process through preferential pathways, despite their initially differential properties.

Gonzalez-Blanco, L., Romero, E., Marschall, P. et al. Hydro-mechanical Response to Gas Transfer of Deep Argillaceous Host Rocks for Radioactive Waste Disposal. Rock Mech Rock Eng 55, 1159–1177 (2022). - 4.8 Mo