The paper presents two case studies that provide information on the process of homogenization of initially heterogeneous clay barriers and seals. The first case is the canister retrieval test performed in the Aspö Hard Rock Laboratory (Sweden). The heterogeneity arises from the use of a combination of blocks and pellets to construct the engineered barrier. The degree of homogenization achieved by the end of the tests is evaluated from data obtained during the dismantling of the test. To assist in the interpretation of the test, a fully coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) analysis has been carried out. The second case involves the shaft sealing test performed in the HADES underground research laboratory (URL) in Mol (Belgium). Here the seal is made up of a heterogeneous mixture of bentonite pellets and bentonite powders. In addition to the full scale test, the process of homogenization of the mixture has also been observed in the laboratory using X-ray tomography. Both field test and laboratory tests are successfully modelled by a coupled hydro-mechanical (HM) analysis using a double structure constitutive law. The paper concludes with some considerations on the capability of highly expansive materials to provide a significant degree of homogenization upon hydration.

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Published on 01/01/2013

DOI: 10.1016/j.jrmg.2013.04.003
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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