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Constant-head step injection tests to quantify the stress dependence of fracture transmissivity in an excavation damaged zone; A Case study from the Horonobe Underground Research Laboratory

Ishii, Eiichi   

In an underground repository for high-level radioactive waste disposal, fracture transmissivity in an excavation damaged zone (EDZ) along tunnels or deposition holes can decrease during the post-closure period via processes such as self-sealing by clay-swelling at the EDZ's fracture surface or an increase in effective normal stress acting on the fractures owing to swelling of backfilling or buffer materials. Hydromechanical coupling models for the stress-dependence of fracture transmissivity are helpful to estimate the change in an EDZ's fracture transmissivity after closure. The applicability of the applied models should be confirmed by in situ tests at the given site; this appears to be facilitated by using constant-head step injection tests. However, injection testing is rarely applied to EDZ fractures. To investigate the applicability of injection tests, the present study performed them on single, tensile EDZ fractures in the Horonobe Underground Research Laboratory hosted by poorly swelling mudstone. Furthermore, the Barton-Bandis normal stress-dependent fracture-closure model quantified the stress-dependence of EDZ facture transmissivity. The fracture's hydraulic aperture increased gradually during injection, and its variation was well reproduced by fitting the model. Although the model requires the normal stress, this parameter was reasonably estimated by the fitting analyses. Constant-head step injection tests coupled with the Barton-Bandis model is believed to be a convenient method for preliminarily quantifying or verifying the stress dependence of EDZ fracture transmissivity, at least for poorly self-sealed, tensile EDZ-fractures.

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Category:Engineering, Geological

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