Watershed modeling at Yucca Mountain, Nevada Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/r494vp61p

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  • Studies are currently underway to determine the suitability of Yucca Mountain in Nevada as the nation's first high-level nuclear waste repository. Values of net infiltration are required to determine pre-waste emplacement groundwater travel times and the performance of the repository as a waste containment system. The objective of this study was to develop a numerical model to perform water balance calculations and predict rates of net infiltration for the site. The model included processes of precipitation, runoff, evapotranspiration, infiltration, and redistribution of water within a soil profile. The watershed was divided into 477 grid cells 75.7 x 75.7 m. The elevation, slope, aspect, and hydrologic properties were assumed to be constant within a grid cell but varied from one cell to the next Water balance calculations were performed for each cell using a one-dimensional form of Richards equation. The solution was obtained using the finite difference method with Newton-Raphson iteration. The model was calibrated using water content data obtained from neutron-moisture meter measurements in boreholes located in Pagany Wash Watershed Measurements were made in channel and terrace alluvium and in tuffs. Computer simulations reproduced water content data for a major precipitation event that occurred in 1984. Simulations verified the importance of antecedent soil water content in controlling the occurrence of runoff. Sensitivity analysis indicated that the soil and alluvium grain-size distributions, which are used to calculate unsaturated hydraulic conductivity, can greatly affect predicted rates of water movement
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