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Development and testing of a model for predicting dripping into unsaturated rock underground excavations


, : Development and testing of a model for predicting dripping into unsaturated rock underground excavations. Acta Universitatis Carolinae Geologica 46(2-3): 335-339

The main aim of this paper is to present a probabilistic analytical formulation of unsaturated flow through a single rough multi-segmented fracture, with the ultimate goal to provide a numerical platform with which to perform calculations on the dripping initiation time. To accomplish this, an enhanced version of the Wang and Narasimhan model (Wang and Narasimhan 1985, 1993), the Enhanced Wang and Narasimhan Model (EWNM), has been used. In the EWNM, a fracture is formed by a finite number of connected fracture segments of given strike and dip. These parameters are sampled from hypothetical Probability Density Functions (PDFs). Unsaturated water flow occurs in these fracture segments. In order for dripping to occur, it is assumed that local saturation conditions exist at the surface and the tunnel level, where dripping occurs. The fracture segments are considered as rough fractures, with their roughness characterized by an aperture distribution function that can be derived from real field data. The roughness along each fracture segment is considered constant, leading to a constant effective aperture, and it is randomly assigned. The model takes into account the possibility that the fracture crosses multiple layers, each of which can have a different configuration in the values of the input parameters. Monte Carlo simulations calculate average times for water to flow from the top to the bottom of the fracture for a specified number of random realizations. This travel time, called the dripping initiation time, is the cumulative sum of the time it takes for the water to drip through all fracture segments and eventually reach the tunnel. Three different scenarios of input parameters were used to test the validity of the model with the fast flow-paths detected and reported in the Fabryka-Martin et al. (1996) study. The three scenarios differed from each other for the response of the dripping initiation times. Monte Carlo simulations were run for each configuration and at different depths to calculate average dripping initiation times and their associated statistics, so that results from 9 scenarios were produced. The final conclusion is that the model is able to produce results quite consistent with the Fabryka-Martin et al. (1996) study of the fast flow-paths detected at Yucca Mountain.

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