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Simplified representative models for long-term flow and advective transport in fractured crystalline bedrock

Geier, Joel E., Lindgren, Georg A., Tsang, Chin-Fu
Hydrogeology journal 2019 v.27 no.2 pp. 595-614
bedrock, field experimentation, hydrogeology, mathematical models, mathematics, nuclear fuels, prediction, radioactive waste, radioactivity, uncertainty, Sweden
Simplified representative models (SRMs) of the hydrogeological system at radioactive-waste repository sites are presented and demonstrated to give useful predictions of the key hydrogeological factors affecting long-term safety. The SRM is constructed from complex site-descriptive models, which have been developed to be consistent with detailed site information and data from short-term (with duration of days, weeks, up to months) field experiments, by keeping elements that are important for long-term predictions into thousands of years and simplifying features of less importance. The simplified approach relies only on fundamental hydrogeological principles and the mathematics can be kept relatively simple. The purpose of SRM is to provide a means of verifying predictions from complex numerical models, with an approach that is easy to evaluate and allows transparent evaluation of factors influencing long-term results. The approach is applied to evaluations of sites for two repositories in fractured crystalline bedrock in Sweden: one for spent nuclear fuel rod assemblies and one for waste with lower levels of radioactivity. The results indicate that the SRMs are able to yield results similar to those of calculations based on much more complex models. Further, the approach allows an evaluation of additional sources of uncertainty that are difficult or expensive to conduct with the complex models. These capabilities make SRMs a very useful and transparent tool for regulatory review.