Final disposal data bored from deep waters under the Greenland glacier
A key question in Posiva's research and development work is how an ice age would affect the final disposal facility for spent nuclear fuel because an ice age is expected in Finland during the next 100,000 years. In cooperation with Sweden-based SKB and the Canada-based NWMO, Posiva is conducting a study in Greenland to obtain more information on ice age conditions. The impact of glacier meltwater deep in the rock is the main focus of the study. Anne Lehtinen, Hydrogeologist at Posiva, is involved in the study.
The Greenland Analogy Project (GAP) was launched in 2009. The three-year project will soon be completed. Hydrogeologist Anne Lehtinen, how has the study progressed?
"It has progressed well. The boring and measurement equipment installation performed in June in Greenland has been particularly successful. This time nothing went wrong that could have gone wrong," says a happy Lehtinen, who has been involved in the project since its launch. A research and boring team of over ten people worked in Greenland in June. Six of them were Posiva's researchers.
What was performed in Greenland in June 2011 and what is the study about?
"The goal is to investigate the impact of the continental glacier at the intended final disposal depth, about 500 metres. The study particularly focuses on glacier meltwater, how it is formed, how it travels and how it is connected to groundwater. To study this, a hole was bored at a depth of 632 metres in the Isunngua area approximately 30 km to the east/north-east of Kangerlussuaq in Western Greenland. The borehole begins at an ice-free area near the glacier edge and continues under the glacier."
Through the borehole, water samples can be taken from different depths. Based on the samples, it can be deduced whether the groundwater near the glacier is formed from the glacier's melting waters or not. The oxygen level in the water affects corrosion, which is significant for the final disposal system.
Has corresponding research been conducted before this?
"No. This kind of study related to deep groundwater near a glacier is totally new. In regard to research, this is the first time deep holes, extending to over 600 metres, have been bored in Greenland. In fact, in addition to the final disposal companies, the research project involves over ten universities based in different countries. This means that the GAP project is also advantageous for the academic sector." The GAP project studies will be completed in 2012, and the project reports will be finalised in 2013.