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Open AccessArticle

Simulating 10,000 Years of Erosion to Assess Nuclear Waste Repository Performance

1
Earth and Environmental Sciences, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA
2
Neptune and Company, Los Alamos, NM 87544, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2019, 9(3), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9030120
Received: 12 January 2019 / Revised: 5 March 2019 / Accepted: 5 March 2019 / Published: 8 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Hydrology and Erosion)
Long-term environmental performance assessments of natural processes, including erosion, are critically important for waste repository site evaluation. However, assessing a site’s ability to continuously function is challenging due to parameter uncertainty and compounding nonlinear processes. In lieu of unavailable site data for model calibration, we present a workflow to include multiple sources of surrogate data and reduced-order models to validate parameters for a long-term erosion assessment of a low-level radioactive nuclear waste repository. We apply this new workflow to a low-level waste repository on mesas in Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. To account for parameter uncertainty, we simulate high-, moderate-, and low-erosion cases. The assessment extends to 10,000 years, which results in large erosion uncertainties, but is necessary given the nature of the interred waste. Our long-term erosion analysis shows that high-erosion scenarios produce rounded mesa tops and partially filled canyons, diverging from the moderate-erosion case that results in gullies and sharp mesa rims. Our novel model parameterization workflow and modeling exercise demonstrates the utility of long-term assessments, identifies sources of erosion forecast uncertainty, and demonstrates the utility of landscape evolution model development. We conclude with a discussion on methods to reduce assessment uncertainty and increase model confidence. View Full-Text
Keywords: erosion; 3D model; risk assessment erosion; 3D model; risk assessment
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MDPI and ACS Style

Atchley, A.L.; Birdsell, K.H.; Crowell, K.; Middleton, R.S.; Stauffer, P.H. Simulating 10,000 Years of Erosion to Assess Nuclear Waste Repository Performance. Geosciences 2019, 9, 120.

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