Engineered damage zone sealing during a water injection test at the Tournemire URL

  • K. E. Thatcher
  • A. E. Bond
  • S. Norris
Thematic Issue
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. DECOVALEX 2015


Low-permeability clay formations provide good candidate host rocks for geological disposal of radioactive waste, because there is expected to be limited movement of gas or water through the formation. However, when constructing tunnels, the stress state in the formation around the tunnel will change, which can lead to damage to the formation, changing the bulk hydraulic properties of the formation close to the tunnel. There is the potential for this damaged zone to act as a preferential pathway for fluid flow and radionuclide transport. A water injection experiment is ongoing at the Tournemire underground rock laboratory to investigate the hydraulic properties of the Toarcian argillite in which the laboratory is constructed. Water is injected into the formation at the end of a sealed borehole and moves preferentially in the damaged zone along the borehole walls. The rate of water injection into the rock changed over the first year of the experiment and the causes of this change are investigated in this paper by numerical modelling. The study demonstrates that the change in water injection rate into the argillite can be explained by the evolving hydraulic properties of the damaged zone around the borehole. The findings of the modelling study are discussed in the context of long-term radioactive waste disposal.


EDZ sealing Injection test Argillite 



This work was conducted within the international DECOVALEX Project (, with funding from Radioactive Waste Management Limited (RWM) (, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.


  1. Adamson AW, Gast AP (1997) Physical chemistry of surfaces, 6th edn. Wiley, New York, p 54Google Scholar
  2. Baechler S, Lavanchy JM, Armand G, Cruchaudet M (2011) Characterisation of the hydraulic properties within the EDZ around drifts at level −490 m of the Meuse/Haute-Marne URL: a methodology for consistent interpretation of hydraulic tests. Phys Chem Earth 17:1922–1931. doi: 10.1016/j.pce.2011.10.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barnichon JD, Dick P, Bauer C (2011) The SEALEX in situ experiments: performance tests of repository seals. In: Qian QH, Zhou YX (eds) Harmonising rock engineering and the environment. Taylor & Francis Group, London, pp 1391–1394. ISBN 978-0-415-80444-8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Benbow SJ, Rivett MO, Chittenden N, Herbert AW, Watson S, Williams SJ, Norris S (2014) Potential migration of buoyant LNAPL from intermediate level waste (ILW) emplaced in a geological disposal facility (GDF) for UK radioactive waste. J Contam Hydrol 167:1–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bock H, Dehandschutter B, Martin CD, Mazurek M, de Haller A, Skoczylas F, Davy C (2010) Self-sealing of fractures in argillaceous formations in the context of geological disposal of radioactive waste. OECD NEA No. 6184 ISBN 978-92-64-99095-1Google Scholar
  6. Boisson J-Y, Bertrand L, Heitz J-F, Moreau-Le Golvan Y (2001) In situ and laboratory investigations of fluid flow through an argillaceous formation at different scales of space and time, Tournemire tunnel, southern France. Hydrogeol J 9:108–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bond A, Millard A, Nakama S, Zhang C, Garitte B (2013) Approaches for representing hydromechanical coupling between large engineered voids and argillaceous porous media at ventilation experiment, Mont Terri. J Rock Mech Geotech Eng 5(2):85–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bonin B (1998) Deep geological disposal in argillaceous formations: studies at the Tournemire test site. J Contam Hydrol 35:315–330. doi: 10.1016/S0169-7722(98)00132-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bossart P, Trick T, Meierand PM, Mayor JC (2004) Structural and hydrogeological characterization of the excavation-disturbed zone in the Opalinus Clay (Mont Terri Project, Switzerland). Appl Clay Sci 26:429–448. doi: 10.1016/j.clay.2003.12.018 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carranza-Torres C, Zhao J (2009) Analytical and numerical study of the effect of water pressure on the mechanical response of cylindrical lined tunnels in elastic and elasto-plastic porous media. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 46(2009):531–547CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen Z, Huan G, Ma Y (2006) Computational methods for multiphase flows in porous media. Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM, Philadelphia. doi: 10.1137/1.9780898718942 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Engel J, Schanz T and Lauer C (2003). State parameters for unsaturated soils, basic empirical concepts. In: Schanz T (ed) Proceedings of the international conference from experimental evidence towards numerical modeling of unsaturated soils, Weimar, Germany, vol 2. Springer, Berlin, pp 125–138Google Scholar
  13. Fracture Systems Ltd. (2001) Excavation Damaged Zones Assessment. NWMO Report DGR-TR-2011-21Google Scholar
  14. Maul P (2013) QPAC: Quintessa’s general-purpose modelling software. Quintessa Report QRS-QPAC-11.
  15. Meier P, Trick T, Blümling P, Volckaert G (2000) Self-healing of fractures within the EDZ at the Mont Terri rock laboratory: results after one year of experimental work. In: Proceedings of the international workshop on geomechanics, hydromechanical and thermohydro-mechanical behaviour of deep argillaceous rocks: theory and experiments, Paris, 11–12 October 2000Google Scholar
  16. Millard A, Barnichon J-D (2014). DECOVALEX-2015 Task A specification of step 2Google Scholar
  17. Rejeb A, Cabrera J (2007) Time-dependent evolution of the excavation damaged zone in the argillaceous Tournemire site. Advances on coupled thermohydro-mechanicalchemical processes in geosystems and engineering. In: Proceedings international conference GeoProc 2006, Nanjing, China, pp 648–657Google Scholar
  18. Shao H, Schuster K, Sönnke J, Bräuer V (2008) EDZ development in indurated clay formations—in situ borehole measurements and coupled HM modelling. Phys Chem Earth 33:388–395. doi: 10.1016/j.pce.2008.10.031 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Tsang C-F, Bernier F, Davies C (2005) Geohydromechanical processes in the excavation damaged zone in crystalline rock, rock salt and indurated and plastic clays-in the context of radioactive waste disposal. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 42:109–125. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrmms.2004.08.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Xu W, Shao H, Marchall P, Hesser J, Kolditz O (2013) Analysis of flow path around the sealing section HG-A experiment in the Mont Terri Rock Laboratory. Environ Earth Sci 70:3363–3380CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Quintessa LtdWarringtonUK
  2. 2.Radioactive Waste Management Limited (RWM)OxonUK

Personalised recommendations