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The Effect of dissolved gas on rock desaturation in artificial openings in geological formations

Miyakawa, Kazuya  ; Aoyagi, Kazuhei ; Sasamoto, Hiroshi; Akaki, Toshifumi*; Yamamoto, Hajime*

The construction and operation of geological repositories require excavation and ventilation of galleries, with significant groundwater drainage. Desaturation of rock around galleries is unavoidable and may affect hydraulic properties and redox conditions. This study used numerical modeling to assess the influence of dissolved gas on the degree of saturation of rock surrounding excavated galleries, focusing on siliceous mudstone rock in the 140 m, 250 m, and 350-m-deep galleries of the Horonobe Underground Research Laboratory, Japan. Based on previous $$in situ$$ electrical survey, the degree of saturation in the 250 m gallery was higher than that in the 140 m and 350 m galleries. In the Horonobe area, deep groundwater contains high concentrations of dissolved methane, and exsolution of this methane from pore water can affect desaturation. Simple numerical modeling, including simulation of multiphase flows, was undertaken for each gallery to confirm the effect of dissolved gas and rock permeability on desaturation. A sensitivity analysis was performed by varying dissolved gas contents and permeability. Results indicate that the dissolved gas content affects both the degree of saturation and its spatial extent, whereas rock permeability affects only the latter. Higher dissolved gas concentrations result in lower degrees of saturation with a greater spatial extent of desaturation, and higher permeability leads to greater extents of desaturation. It is therefore likely that gas content, rather than rock permeability, caused the observed variations in the saturation degree.

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