Earth Sciences Division (ESD) Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

The Yucca Mountain Project: Numerical Modeling

Conceptualized Water Flow Behavior in the Unsaturated Zone Berkeley Lab was responsible for hydrological (unsaturated flow, drift seepage and radionuclide transport) and thermal-coupled process testing and modeling. The modeling program addressed some of the most compelling issues for the repository program, including:

  • Migration of water from the land surface to the repository horizon
  • Flow distribution between fractures and rock matrix
  • Mineralogical and geochemical evidence of past and current water distribution
  • Water seepage into waste-emplacement drifts
  • Retardation of radionuclide migration from the repository horizon
  • Heat release and its effect on water distribution, drift seepage, water composition, and transport

Two-dimensional Cross Section from the Unsaturated  Zone Model Grid Studies of the unsaturated zone at Yucca Mountain are highlighted in the Safety Analysis Report (SAR) submitted to the NRC in June 2008. The SAR summarizes the modeling, analysis and current understanding of fluid flow, drift seepage, chemical transport, and thermal coupled processes in the unsaturated zone. Detailed documentation of the work is provided in numerous supporting technical reports referenced by the SAR. The technical work performed by LBNL for the Yucca Mountain Project was used for screening evaluations of features, events, and processes associated with the repository system, to assess the contributions of the natural barriers to prevent or reduce the rate of movement of water or radionuclides, and as inputs for total system performance assessment dose calculations.

The following links provide information on specific modeling studies conducted under the numerical modeling program:

For more information, please contact:

Jim Houseworth
Yucca Mountain Project Lead
Earth Sciences Division
Phone: (510) 486-6459
Fax: (510) 486-5686
Email: JEHouseworth@lbl.gov