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Isotope hydrology of the Chalk River Laboratories site, Ontario, Canada

March 1, 2016

This paper presents results of hydrochemical and isotopic analyses of groundwater (fracture water) and porewater, and physical property and water content measurements of bedrock core at the Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) site in Ontario. Density and water contents were determined and water-loss porosity values were calculated for core samples. Average and standard deviations of density and water-loss porosity of 50 core samples from four boreholes are 2.73 ± 12 g/cc and 1.32 ± 1.24 percent. Respective median values are 2.68 and 0.83 indicating a positive skewness in the distributions. Groundwater samples from four deep boreholes were analyzed for strontium (87Sr/86Sr) and uranium (234U/238U) isotope ratios. Oxygen and hydrogen isotope analyses and selected solute concentrations determined by CRL are included for comparison. Groundwater from borehole CRG-1 in a zone between approximately +60 and −240 m elevation is relatively depleted in δ18O and δ2H perhaps reflecting a slug of water recharged during colder climatic conditions. Porewater was extracted from core samples by centrifugation and analyzed for major dissolved ions and for strontium and uranium isotopes. On average, the extracted water contains 15 times larger concentration of solutes than the groundwater. 234U/238U and correlation of 87Sr/86Sr with Rb/Sr values indicate that the porewater may be substantially older than the groundwater. Results of this study show that the Precambrian gneisses at Chalk River are similar in physical properties and hydrochemical aspects to crystalline rocks being considered for the construction of nuclear waste repositories in other regions.