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Open AccessArticle

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

Earth and Environmental Sciences, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA
Neptune and Company, Los Alamos, NM 87544, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2019, 9(3), 120;
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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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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