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Workreport 2007-20

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Name:

Microbiology of Transitional Groundwater of the Porous Overburden and Underlying Shallow Fractured Bedrock Aquifers in Olkiluoto, Finland. October 2005 – January 2006

Writer:

Pedersen, K.

Language:

English

Page count:

48

Summary:

The subsurface biosphere on Earth appears to be far more expansive and metabolically and phylogenetically complex than previously thought. A diverse suite of subsurface environments has been reported to support microbial ecosystems, extending from a few meters below the surface to several thousand meters. The discovery of a deep biosphere will have several important implications for underground repositories for radioactive wastes. The main potential effects of microorganisms in the context of a KBS-3 type repository for spent fuel in the bedrock of Olkiluoto are:

  • Oxygen reduction and maintenance of anoxic and reduced conditions.
  • Bio-immobilisation and bio-mobilisation of radionuclides, and the effects from microbial metabolism on radionuclide mobility.
  • Sulphate reduction to sulphide and the risk for copper sulphide corrosion.
The main objective of this study was to characterize the geochemistry, biomass and microbial diversity of shallow subsurface groundwater at Olkiluoto, from 4.0 m down to 14.9 m. This objective also permitted the determination of whether or not there is any transition in the shallow depths at Olkiluoto to microbial conditions associated with the deep subsurface.

This was the second investigation that covered both shallow and some moderately deep groundwater microbiology in Olkiluoto. The analysis of microbiology is very important for proper understanding of the evolution of geochemical processes in and around the underground research facility ONKALO being constructed at Olkiluoto by Posiva since autumn 2004, as well as for the planned KBS-3 type spent fuel repository at Olkiluoto. There are several conclusions from this investigation that are of importance for ONKALO. The following present day conclusions can be drawn. Continued investigations will update and test them.
  • The shallow biosphere was dominated by oxygen consuming microorganisms that block oxygen migration to deeper groundwater. This effect was most pronounced during the summer and fall seasons.
  • There was a clear seasonal variation in the populations of microorganisms in shallow Olkiluoto groundwater.
  • The shallow groundwater of Olkiluoto was generally anaerobic all the way up to the water table in the fall 2005, but oxygenated to about 25 m depth in the spring 2004 season. This interesting trend will need to be confirmed by more sampling. Oxygen was present in 3 of the samples in 2005, though at a very low level.
  • The data obtained suggest that the transient between the shallow and deep biospheres in olkiluoto occurs at a very shallow depth, typically at 15-25 m.

Keywords:

Microbiology, shallow groundwaters, deep groundwaters

File(s):

Microbiology of Transitional Groundwater of the Porous Overburden and Underlying Shallow Fractured Bedrock Aquifers in Olkiluoto, Finland. October 2005 – January 2006 (pdf) (406.7 KB)


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