For its nine deep boreholes and the subsequent analysis of the drill cores, Nagra relies on extensive know-how from both Switzerland and abroad. Here, we present scientists whose expertise contributes to the success of the deep geological repository project of the century. Today, we would like to introduce:
Eleonora Crisci, geomechanics expert, Nesol – Numerical Engineering Solutions
Eleonora is a project manager at Nesol in Lausanne, Switzerland. In her native Italy, she studied environmental engineering before coming to Switzerland to obtain her doctorate in geomechanics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne, and, after a post-doc, joining Nesol. Her area of expertise is the hydromechanical behaviour of geomaterials, such as soils and rocks. Already during her research activity, she had turned her attention to the Opalinus Clay, which is the rock in which the repository is to be constructed.
Eleonora, what is your role in this project?
I support Nagra with my expertise in characterising the mechanical response of drill cores recovered as part of the deep borehole campaign. I participate in coordinating and analysing the data coming from the laboratories activities to obtain a comprehensive characterisation of the rocks. The results feed into the models necessary to simulate and predict the repository response throughout its lifetime.
What fascinates you most about this task?
The most interesting aspect of this project is the interdisciplinarity – it is really extraordinary. My knowledge is specific to a certain area of expertise, and in this project, I can work with internationally renowned experts from other disciplines. In the world of research, this is not a given. I can see how the results of my work impact those of others (and the opposite), and how all results contribute to the entire project. And the scale of this project is indeed noteworthy, in both scope and importance.
«The most interesting aspect of this project is the interdisciplinarity – it is really extraordinary.»
So you are saying that you are interested in the deep geological repository project as a whole and not just in the results from your area of expertise?
Yes, it is great to see how the project is constantly evolving and taking shape. Almost all European countries, and not only these, are faced with radioactive waste disposal issues, and it is internationally recognised that a deep geological repository is the most suitable solution. I am happy to see how far Switzerland has already advanced and how decisively it pursues the solution.
How would you describe your profession to attract young people?
My job is very challenging and never boring. There are moments when one could think everything is already known. Then, as research progresses, something new is discovered and we realise that there is still plenty of room to improve, learn and discover more. It keeps your brain fit.
What does Switzerland think about the deep geological repository?
Switzerland is confident that it can realise the project of the century of deep geological disposal. A recent, representative survey shows that acceptance is high across the whole of Switzerland and in the affected region.