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Evolution of the excavation damaged zone around a modelled disposal pit; Case study at the Horonobe Underground Research Laboratory, Japan

Aoyagi, Kazuhei; Miyara, Nobukatsu; Ishii, Eiichi; Nakayama, Masashi; Kimura, Shun

The construction of underground facilities induces fractures in the rock mass around the underground voids due to the resultant stress redistribution. This has particular implications for high-level radioactive waste (HLW) disposal projects, where fracture development creates an excavation damaged zone (EDZ) that increases the hydraulic conductivity of the surrounding rock mass and can provide a pathway for the migration of radionuclides from the storage facilities. It is therefore important to understand the long-term evolution of the EDZ and perform a comprehensive HLW disposal risk assessment. An in situ engineered barrier system experiment was conducted in the 350 m gallery at the Horonobe Underground Research Laboratory, Japan, to observe the near-field coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical-chemical (THMC) process in situ and validate coupled THMC models. Here we investigate the evolution of the EDZ around the gallery and model a test pit that was excavated below the floor of the gallery using a series of seismic tomography surveys. There was a significant decrease in the seismic velocity field around the test pit due to its excavation, which became slightly more pronounced over time after the excavation. These seismic results, coupled with hydraulic tests and pore pressure measurements around the pit, indicate that fracture development and the decrease in saturation around the test pit resulted in a decrease in the seismic velocity field after the excavation of the test pit. Furthermore, the increase in saturation around the test pit is a key reason for the increase in the seismic velocity field after the heater test.

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