Commentary: assessment of past infiltration fluxes through Yucca Mountain on the basis of the secondary mineral record-is it a viable methodology?

Abstract

Two papers recently published in the Journal of Contaminant Hydrology by Marshall et al. [Marshall, B.D., Neymark, L.A., Peterman, Z.E., 2003. Estimation of past seepage volumes from calcite distribution in the Topopah Spring Tuff, Yucca Mountain, Nevada. J. Contam. Hydrol. 62-63, 237-247] and Xu et al. [Xu, T., Sonnenthal, E., Bodvarsson, G., 2003. A reaction-transport model for calcite precipitation and evaluation of infiltration fluxes in unsaturated fractured rock. J. Contam. Hydrol. 64, 113-127] attempt to assess past volumes of seepage and infiltration fluxes through the vadose zone of Yucca Mountain, Nevada, on the basis of the modeling of the spatial distribution of secondary calcite. In this commentary, we argue that the employed methodology is not viable. In addition, the thermal boundary conditions used in simulations do not correspond to the temperatures of the mineral forming fluids established on the basis of the fluid inclusion studies.

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