Evidence for gas-induced pathways in clay using a nanoparticle injection technique

Harrington, J.F.; Milodowski, A.E.; Graham, C.C.; Rushton, J.C. ORCID:; Cuss, R.J.. 2012 Evidence for gas-induced pathways in clay using a nanoparticle injection technique. Mineralogical Magazine, 76 (8). 3327-3336.​minmag.2012.076.8.45

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Corrosion, water radiolysis and microbial degradation will result in the generation of gas within repositories designed for the geological disposal of high-level radioactive waste. It is therefore crucial in the design of such facilities that the relevant mechanisms allowing gas migration through repository materials, both engineered barriers and clay-based candidate host rocks, are correctly identified. In Belgium, the Boom Clay represents a candidate host material for which the advective gas breakthrough characteristics and transport properties have been extensively tested and are well defined by numerous studies. The Boom Clay displays a significant capacity for self-sealing and both laboratory and field tests indicate that advective gas transport occurs not by visco-capillary flow, but instead through the formation of pressure-induced dilatant pathways. In this study, we present results from a gas injection test designed to demonstrate the presence of these features by injecting nanoparticulate tracers with helium gas into a sample of Boom Clay. The results provide conclusive evidence for the formation of transient, dilatant gas pathways within a candidate clay-based host rock. This technique provides a novel diagnostic tool for the identification of processes governing multi-phase flow, supporting robust long-term assessments of repository performance.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):​minmag.2012.076.8.45
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2010 > Minerals and waste
Date made live: 12 Feb 2013 13:48 +0 (UTC)

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