Geoscientific Investigations and Research

Geoscientific Investigations and Research

Many GSL staff have a background in the earth sciences and joined the company from the academic research environment.  Further, GSL has established a wide range of associates who are renowned experts in their fields.  As such, GSL has welcomed opportunities to develop and apply geoscientifc understanding to environmental protection problems, particularly within the remit of radioactive waste management projects.  Some examples follow.

Geological Characterisation and Modelling

GSL staff have worked on site characterisation projects for radioactive waste disposal programmes in Finland, Sweden, Spain, Japan, the UK and the US.

We have an internationally recognised 3D geological modelling expertise and GSL staff have been responsible for developing 3D geological models for Dounreay and Sellafield using EarthVision and Vulcan geological modelling software.  These site models have been developed to support site characterisation and performance assessment programmes.

Other examples of GSL staff experience include the development of integrated models of structure, hydrogeology, hydrochemistry and boreholes/drifts for the El Berrocal site, integrated models of geological studies at Maqarin, modelling of the Dounreay shaft and detailed modelling of metre-scale lithology across the site, structure and geochemistry of the Rokkasho LLW disposal site in Japan, and visualisation of potential LLW disposal sites in Italy.

Hydrogeological Characterisation and Modelling

We have developed integrated hydro-geological models as input to safety assessments by assisting in providing data and the 3D geological framework for groundwater flow and solute transport calculations, visualising the results of groundwater flow simulations alongside the geological interpretation in 3D, and undertaking “what-if” calculations.  This work has included use of the FEFLOW software.

GSL managed the development of a 3D hybrid-medium groundwater flow code that has been used to predict groundwater flows and water table drawdown during the construction of the Mizunami Underground Research Laboratory at Tono, Japan. This model was linked directly to the geological model in EarthVision (GEOMASS system).

We managed a European Commission (EC) research project on the impact of fault structures on groundwater flow; this project used data from the Sellafield geological disposal characterisation project.

We have undertaken modelling of contaminant transport from the Wet Silo at Dounreay using MODFLOW.

Hydrogeochemical Characterisation and Modelling

GSL has been involved in EC research projects looking at the application of hydrogeochemical modelling to study (i) heavy metal pollution and contaminant migration in soil and groundwater at sites in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East (LIMPET), and (ii) the deep injection of radioactive wastes in Russia as natural system analogues for radioactive waste repositories (BORIS).

GSL co-ordinated the EC BORIS Project, which collected and analysed data from Russian sites where liquid radioactive waste has been injected into the ground.  The impact of the waste injections has been monitored through numerous observation boreholes and a seismic monitoring network.  In addition to co-ordinating the project, GSL staff collaborated with Nirex in the design of a historical database of information from the sites and the collection, archiving and analysis of the data.

As part of the European TRANCOM 2 project, we developed modelling to represent experiments studying the migration of radionuclides through clay.  This involved consideration of the role of colloids and natural organic material.