Stress field disruption allows gas-driven microdeformation in bentonite to be quantified

Graham, Caroline C.; Harrington, Jon F.. 2024 Stress field disruption allows gas-driven microdeformation in bentonite to be quantified. Scientific Reports, 14 (1), 788.

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Geological disposal of radioactive waste is being planned by many countries. Bentonite clay is often included in facility design, providing a barrier to radionuclide migration. Gas, generated by the waste or corrosion of waste canisters, may disrupt the properties of the bentonite. Robust prediction of this interaction is, therefore, necessary to demonstrate safe facility evolution. In some cases, gas may deform the clay, resulting in localised flow; however, the nature of this deformation has been widely debated. Accurate numerical representation of this behaviour has been limited by a shortage of information on the degree/distribution of deformation. Using experimental data from gas injection tests in bentonite, we show that first order fluctuations in the stress field can provide this information. We show that hundreds of microdeformation events can be detected, with similar characteristics to established fracturing phenomena, including earthquakes and acoustic emissions. We also demonstrate that stress field disruption (i) is spatially localised and (ii) has characteristics consistent with gas pathway ‘opening’ and ‘closure’ as gas enters and exits the clay, respectively. This new methodology offers fundamental insight and a new opportunity to parameterise and constrain gas advection models in clays and shales, substantially improving our capacity for safe facility design.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date made live: 29 Jan 2024 13:22 +0 (UTC)

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