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Mudstone redox conditions at the Horonobe Underground Research Laboratory, Hokkaido, Japan; Effects of drift excavation

Mochizuki, Akihito; Ishii, Eiichi ; Miyakawa, Kazuya  ; Sasamoto, Hiroshi

The mechanical and hydraulic properties of rocks around mine drifts change significantly during the construction and operation of a radioactive-waste repository, with air intrusion causing the oxidation of rock and groundwater in excavation-damaged zones (EDZ). Redox conditions in such zones associated with niches excavated in mudstone at the Horonobe Underground Research Laboratory (URL), which is believed to be generally representative of conditions that could exist in the EDZ of a repository, were studied with the aim of improving our understanding of factors that control redox conditions in such rock-groundwater systems. Groundwater Eh values around the niches have reducing values of less than -150 mV. The SO$$_{4}$$$$^{2-}$$ concentration, regarded as an oxidation indicator, is consistently as low as 1 $$mu$$mol L$$^{-1}$$. Gas occupies more than 50% of zone volumes, including CH$$_{4}$$ and CO$$_{2}$$ with traces of N$$_{2}$$ and O$$_{2}$$. Cores drilled from host rock around a URL gallery were analyzed, with no pyrite dissolution or precipitation of calcium sulfates being found. It is concluded that oxidizing conditions do not exist in the excavation-damaged zones, which is attributed to the suppression of air intrusion by the release of CH$$_{4}$$ and CO$$_{2}$$ from groundwater as pressures decreased and their accumulation in fractures. The modeling of oxygen diffusion into host rock further indicates that a reducing environment is maintained around the URL drifts.

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Category:Engineering, Geological

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