Development of a Hydrogeological Model of the Borrowdale Volcanics at Sellafield
- 1Centre for Land Use and Water Resource Research, Newcastle University, Porter Building, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK.
- 2Department of Statistics, The Open University and Worcester College, Oxford, UK.
Abstract. This work has arisen out of recent developments within the radioactive waste research programme managed by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution, UK (HMIP)*, to develop an integrated flow and transport model for the potential deep radioactive waste repository at Sellafield. One of the largest sources of uncertainty in model predictions, is the characterisation of the hydrogeological properties of the underlying strata, in particular, of the Borrowdale Volcanic Group (BVG) within which the repository is to be located. Analysis of the available borehole data (that released by the proponent company, Nirex, by December 1995) for the BVG formation has indicated a dual regime consisting of flow within faults and flow within the matrix (or an equivalent porous medium containing micro-fractures). Significant relationships between permeability, depth and the presence and orientation of faults have been identified; they account for a variation of up to 6 orders of magnitude in mean permeability measurements. This can be explained in part by the effect of the orientation of the current maximum principal stress directions within the BVG: however, it is likely that permeability is also dependent on the existence of fracture families, which cannot be effectively identified from the data currently available.
These analyses have enabled considerable insight to be gained into the dominant features of flow within the BVG. The conceptual hydrogeological model derived here will have a significant effect on the outcome and reliability of future radionuclide transport predictions in the Sellafield area.