Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Yucca Mountain: Putting A Limit On Risk

Date:
December 5, 2007
Source:
Seismological Society of America
Summary:
Looking ahead 100 million years, new research puts a maximum limit of 3.6 meters per second on potential ground movement caused by earthquakes at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the site of the proposed high-level radioactive waste repository. Yucca Mountain has unique characteristics that make it arguably the best location to store hazardous waste, chiefly a water table so low that it is possible to store steel canisters of waste 1000 feet below ground and 1000 feet above the water table. Two questions form the current debate: how dry will the site remain, and what is the risk from earthquakes?

Looking ahead 100 million years, new research puts a maximum limit of 3.6 meters per second on potential ground movement caused by earthquakes at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the site of the proposed high-level radioactive waste repository.

Yucca Mountain has unique characteristics that make it arguably the best location to store hazardous waste, chiefly a water table so low that it is possible to store steel canisters of waste 1000 feet below ground and 1000 feet above the water table. Two questions form the current debate: how dry will the site remain, and what is the risk from earthquakes?

Seismic hazard assessments usually look at the risk over 500 to 1000 years. The Nuclear Regulatory Agency is requiring a much more cautious evaluation that exams what would happen with odds as low as 1 in 10,000 over 10,000 years, which would be equivalent to something that happens only once every 100 million years. Scientists study the past to help predict the future, but Yucca Mountain was formed only 10 million years ago, limiting the value of the historical record.

While the relative stability of the area is clear, some seismic hazard evaluations assessed potential movement at rates larger than experienced anywhere on earth. Researchers turned their attention instead to quantifying the maximum possible movement from any earthquake at Yucca Mountain, given its unique geological composition. Was there a limit to ground motion?

D. J. Andrews and colleagues at USGS looked at the worst-case scenario to find that the ground can move a maximum of 3.6 meters per second, which is near the most intense ground motion ever recorded anywhere, but is within the range of feasible engineering mitigation.

Andrews, et al., used a numerical method to calculate ground motion related to stress changes at the source of an earthquake and throughout the surrounding area to establish physical limits on extreme ground motion.

The authors suggest this new finding adds significantly to the body of evidence that supports a long-term stable seismic environment for Yucca Mountain and provides an opportunity to shift discussion to the large question of the comparable merits of available options for hazardous waste storage.

The full research article was recently published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. D. J. Andrews, Thomas C. Hanks, and John W. Whitney work at the U.S. Geological Survey -- Menlo Park.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Seismological Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Seismological Society of America. "Yucca Mountain: Putting A Limit On Risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071204170120.htm>.
Seismological Society of America. (2007, December 5). Yucca Mountain: Putting A Limit On Risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071204170120.htm
Seismological Society of America. "Yucca Mountain: Putting A Limit On Risk." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071204170120.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins