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Title: Digital outcrop modelling and its application to deep geological disposal of nuclear waste
Author: Head, William Stephen
ISNI:       0000 0004 5993 8634
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2016
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Disposal of the UK's legacy nuclear waste is the biggest challenge facing the industry at present. There is currently no long term storage facility in the UK and the inventory is continually growing. This project investigates the role that digital geoscientific data collection, analysis and modelling techniques play in the search for, and development of, a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF), critically analyses classical techniques and new, digital methodologies to assess what their impact would be on any site investigation. The Borrowdale Volcanic Group outcrop in Cumbria, NW England was chosen as it provides an analogue to a higher-strength crystalline basement setting for a GDF. Terrestrial lidar and photogrammetric surveys were conducted at four locations around the study area. These provided information on the fracture geostatistics which are the main fluid migration pathways in the subsurface in the BVG. The mechanics of deformation are identified by analysing the clustering of data points via digital stereonet analysis. The analysis shows the rocks sampled are highly fractured and their orientations and dips reflected the extensional tectonism experienced in the area. These are in the form of adjacent sets trending broadly NNE-SSW and NNW-SSE at very high angler dips (~70 degrees). A new workflow developed for this work demonstrates how a potential site's fracture statistics, and indeed the 3D geology, should be investigated as part of future GDF site investigations. Areas of complex geology such as the BVG present many difficulties in interpretation and analysis due to the poorly constrained polyphase nature of the deformation. These complexities make characterisation and modelling highly problematic, and as such, areas of simpler geology should be investigated first. Assessments which were based on early geological studies using traditional field data collection techniques underestimated the impact of heterogeneity on fluid flow migration modelling within the subsurface. This suggests that, should a GDF should be developed in such a geological setting, huge difficulties may be encountered. These will be associated with the development of performance assessments and safety cases which are typically based on geological models that should use such complex data. In addition to this, datasets collected using digital methods are a powerful visualisation tools for communication of complex geology, that can be utilised in stakeholder engagement activities that will form a key part of any GDF development process.
Supervisor: Hodgetts, David ; Smith, Nicholas Sponsor: EPSRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: lidar ; photogrammetry ; GDF ; nuclear ; waste ; BVG ; Cumbria ; Geology ; Geophysics ; Reservoir Modelling