Technical Report NTB 09-03

Sorption Data Bases for Generic Swiss Argillaceous Rock Systems

In Switzerland the site selection procedure for both HLW and L/ILW repositories is specified by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy in the Sectoral Plan for Deep Geological Repositories. In the forthcoming stage 2 of this plan, potential sites will be identified within regions previously selected based on the presence of suitable host rocks, namely Opalinus Clay, "Brauner Dogger", Effingen Member and Helvetic Marl. Preliminary safety analyses are an integral part of this procedure, and require, amongst other information, the radionuclide sorption properties of the host rock. This report describes a methodology to develop a Generic Rock Sorption Data Base (GR-SDB) for argillaceous rocks. The method will be used to compile specific SDBs for the above mentioned host rocks.

Arguments are presented that the main factor influencing sorption on argillaceous rocks is the phyllosilicate mineral content. These minerals are particularly effective at binding metals to their surfaces by cation exchange and surface complexation. Generally, the magnitude of sorption is directly correlated with the phyllosilicate content (2:1 type clays: illite/smectite/illite-smectite mixed layers), and this parameter best reflects the sorption potential of a given mineral assembly. Consequently, sorption measurements on illite were preferably used as source data for the GR-SDB.

The second component influencing radionuclide sorption is the porewater chemistry. In the present report, generic water compositions were extracted from the analytical ranges of deep ground waters in various sedimentary formations in Switzerland. In order to cover the range of ionic strength (I) and pH values of Swiss ground waters in argillaceous rocks, five types of generic water compositions were defined, combining low, intermediate and high values of ionic strength and pH.

The GR-SDB for in situ conditions was derived using conversion factors (CF). As the name implies, these factors were used to convert the (predominantly) illite sorption values into sorption values valid for the defined generic conditions with regard to mineralogy and porewater composition. Conversion factors were used to adapt sorption values to mineralogy (CFmin), to pH value (CFpH) and to radionuclide speciation (CFspec). Finally, a Lab→Field conversion factor (CFLab→Field) was applied to adapt sorption data measured in dispersed systems (batch experiments) to intact rock under in-situ conditions.

Calcareous rock is used in safety analyses as being representative of a clay rock which has lost most of its favorable sorption properties due to near-field effects such as alteration by an alkaline plume and subsequent processes. It is assumed that calcareous rocks do not contain any significant quantities of phyllosilicates and that only uptake data on calcite are relevant. Sorption data on calcite are extremely sparse and the uptake mechanisms are not fully understood. However, when the existing sorption data (log Rd values) are plotted against the ionic radii of the respective metals, an acceptable linear correlation between these two quantities is found. This so-called linear free energy relationship is used to complement the sparse experimental data in the SDB for calcareous systems.