2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 3:15 PM


SPYCHER, N., SONNENTHAL, E.L. and APPS, J.A., Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, 1 Cyclotron Rd, Berkeley, CA 94720, nspycher@lbl.gov

The evolution of fluid chemistry and mineral alteration around a potential waste emplacement tunnel (drift) is evaluated using numerical modeling. The model considers the flow of water, gas, and heat, plus reactions between minerals, CO2 gas, and aqueous species, and porosity-permeability-capillary pressure coupling for a dual-permeability (fractures and matrix) medium. Two possible operating temperature modes are investigated: a high-temperature case, with temperatures exceeding the boiling point of water for several hundred years, and a low-temperature case, with temperatures remaining below boiling for the entire life of the repository. In both cases, possible seepage waters are characterized by dilute-to-moderate salinities and mildly alkaline pH values. These trends in fluid composition and mineral alteration are controlled by various coupled mechanisms. For example, upon heating and boiling, CO2 exsolution from pore waters raises pH and causes calcite precipitation. In condensation zones, this CO2 redissolves, resulting in a decrease in pH that causes calcite dissolution and enhances feldspar alteration to clays. Heat also enhances dissolution of wall-rock minerals, leading to elevated silica concentrations. Amorphous silica precipitates through evaporative concentration caused by boiling in the high-temperature case, but does not precipitate in the low-temperature case. Some alteration of feldspars to clays and zeolites is predicted in the high-temperature case. In both cases, calcite precipitates when percolating waters are heated near the drift. The predicted porosity decrease around drifts in the high-temperature case (several percent of the fracture volume) is larger by at least one order of magnitude than in the low-temperature case. Although there are important differences between the two investigated temperature modes in the predicted evolution of fluid compositions and mineral alteration around drifts, these differences are small relative to the model uncertainty and the variability of water compositions at Yucca Mountain.