North America: Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) structural geology investigations

Since 2011, SRK has been involved in the geoscientific site evaluations for NWMO’s Adaptive Phased Management (APM) project. The NWMO is implementing APM, which is Canada’s plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel. The ultimate objective of APM is the containment and isolation of used nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository in a suitable rock formation. Potential candidate sites will ultimately be assessed against a number of site evaluation factors, both technical and social in nature. The geoscientific suitability of candidate areas will be assessed in steps over many years, involving initial desktop studies followed by field studies.

To date, SRK’s role with NWMO has included geological mapping and desktop structural geological interpretations of multiple remotely-sensed datasets for communities currently involved in the site selection process. These are the principal methods for assessing the distribution, physical characteristics, and tectonic history of faults and other discontinuities, identifying structural domains, and comparing the structural characteristics of different subareas.

SRK has built a unique method for the desktop interpretations that evaluates confidence, reproducibility, and interpretation bias. First, two interpreters construct interpretations of individual datasets individually; then, the results are integrated, allowing the reproducibility between interpreters and different datasets to be evaluated.  SRK’s methodology incorporates an understanding of the structural history of the region and knowledge of structural geometries, balancing, cross-cutting and age-relationships.

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