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Development of approaches for modelling coupled thermal–hydraulic–mechanical–chemical processes in single granite fracture experiments


The geological formation immediately surrounding a nuclear waste disposal facility has the potential to undergo a complex set of physical and chemical processes starting from construction and continuing many years after closure. The DECOVALEX project (DEvelopment of COupled models and their VALidation against EXperiments) was established and maintained by a variety of waste management organizations, regulators and research organizations to help improve capabilities in experimental interpretation, numerical modelling and blind prediction of complex coupled systems. In the present round of DECOVALEX (D-2015), one component of Task C1 has considered the detailed experimental work of Yasuhara et al. (Appl Geochem 26:2074–2088, 2011), wherein three natural fractures in Mizunami granite are subject to variable fluid flows, mechanical confining pressure and different applied temperatures. This paper presents a synthesis of the completed work of six separate research teams, building on work considering a single synthetic fracture in novaculite. A range of approaches are presented including full geochemical reactive transport modelling and 2D and 3D high-resolution coupled thermo–hydro–mechanical–chemical (THMC) models. The work shows that reasonable fits can be obtained to the experimental data using a variety of approaches, but considerable uncertainty remains as to the relative importance of competing process sets. The work also illustrates that a good understanding of fracture topography, interaction with the granite matrix, a good understanding of the geochemistry and the associated multi-scale THMC process behaviours is a necessary pre-cursor to considering predictive models of such a system.

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The authors appreciate and thank the Funding Organisations for their financial and technical support of the DECOVALEX project work described in this paper. In part, this work was financially supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 51322906, 41272349). The statements made in the paper are, however, solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Funding Organisation(s).

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Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Alexander E. Bond or Peng-Zhi Pan.

Additional information

This article is part of a Topical Collection in Environmental Earth Sciences on “DECOVALEX 2015”, guest edited by Jens T Birkholzer, Alexander E Bond, John A Hudson, Lanru Jing, Hua Shao and Olaf Kolditz.

Appendix: Codes and modelling approaches

Appendix: Codes and modelling approaches

See Table 17.

Table 17 Codes and general modelling approaches used by the teams in this study (note that details of the geochemical approach taken is give in Table 7)

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Bond, A.E., Bruský, I., Chittenden, N. et al. Development of approaches for modelling coupled thermal–hydraulic–mechanical–chemical processes in single granite fracture experiments. Environ Earth Sci 75, 1313 (2016).

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  • Fracture
  • Fluid flow
  • Coupled analysis
  • THMC
  • Code comparison
  • Rock-matrix diffusion