Long-term consolidation mechanisms based on micro-macro behavior and in situ XRD measurement of basal spacing of clay minerals

K. Nakaoka, S. Yamamoto, H. Hasegawa, H. Kawamura, K. Kitayama, N. Saito, Y. Ichikawa, Katsuyuki Kawamura, M. Nakano

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6 Citations (Scopus)


An important issue in the area of geological disposal of high-level radioactive waste (HLW) is to demonstrate the long-term mechanical stability of the buffer. In particular, it has to be clarified whether a waste package would continue to sink in the buffer over a long time period, resulting in a significant decrease in the buffer thickness. The candidate buffer material in Japan is a mixture of silica sand and bentonite. Consolidation tests have revealed that the bentonite shows secondary consolidation phenomena similar to clay in general. Therefore, it is important to investigate the mechanism of secondary consolidation behavior. Bentonite is a microinhomogeneous material consisting of clay minerals, macrograins (mainly quartz) and others. The unique combination of molecular dynamics (MD) and homogenization analysis (HA) procedures, termed the unified MD/HA method, has been proposed for estimating the micro to macro behavior of such an inhomogeneous material (Ichikawa, Y., Kawamura, K., Nakano, M., Kitayama, K., Kawamura, H., 1998. Unified molecular dynamics/homogenization analysis for water flow in bentonite. Proc. 1998 Int. High-Level Radioactive Waste Management Conf., Las Vegas. American Nuclear Society, La Grange Park, IL, pp. 422-428). In this study, the unified MD/HA method is applied to bentonite in order to understand its long-term consolidation mechanism. Thus, it was found that the permeability decreases significantly with a decrease in the void ratio due to the evolution of consolidation. It was therefore assumed that secondary consolidation is governed by drainage from the interlayer pores (micropores) with very low permeability, and that this is the reason why secondary consolidation is very slow. This paper also documents the result of an X-ray diffraction (XRD) experiment on bentonite under consolidation (in situ XRD), which was performed in order to validate the assumption mentioned above. It was observed that interlayer space starts to decrease after the latter half of primary consolidation. This finding strongly supports the long-term consolidation mechanism presumed above from a microscopic point of view. One-dimensional consolidation analyses of the bentonite, into which the relationship between the void ratio and the permeability determined using the unified MD/HA method was introduced, were performed for comparison with a long-term consolidation test. The good agreement between the analytical result and the test result including secondary consolidation behavior also supports the long-term consolidation mechanism presumed above.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-533
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Clay Science
Issue number1-4 SPEC. ISS.
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Bentonite
  • Consolidation
  • Homogenization analysis
  • In situ X-ray diffraction experiment
  • Microscopic behavior
  • Molecular dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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