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Thermal-coupled process models used for the Yucca Mountain Project were developed and used to investigate the coupling of thermal and hydrological processes. More comprehensive coupled process models were also developed and used for thermal-hydrological-chemical coupled processes and thermal-hydrological-mechanical coupled processes. All coupled process effects were investigated at the drift scale and mountain scale. Drift-scale models were used to investigate the effects of coupled processes on drift seepage rates and seepage water composition. Mountain-scale models were used to investigate the impact of coupled processes on large-scale flow patterns affecting percolation flux at and beneath the repository and effects on pore water and mineral composition. Thermal-coupled process models were based on the same geological and conceptual model framework used for the unsaturated zone flow model. Therefore, properties developed for the unsaturated zone flow model were also used for the thermal-coupled process models. Model validation for thermal-coupled process models used data from the single-heater test and drift-scale test.
Certain aspects of drift-scale thermal-hydrological and thermal-hydrological-chemical coupled processes were found to have a significant impact on drift seepage and seepage water composition. Therefore, these aspects of the coupled process models were incorporated into abstraction models for seepage rate and seepage water composition used in total system performance assessment. Other aspects of coupled processes, such as thermal-hydrological-mechanical effects and mountain-scale thermal-hydrological and thermal-hydrological-chemical effects were found to have only minor effects on system behavior important for performance assessment. Therefore, these aspects of the coupled process models were used to support exclusion from performance assessment.