Evaluating Igneous Activity at Yucca Mountain



The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) plans to submit a license application in 2008 to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to construct a repository for high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. One challenge of the NRC's licensing decision is the evaluation of the potential risk from release of radioactive material by igneous activity at Yucca Mountain during the approximately 1 million year lifetime of the repository. A volcano such as the nearby Lathrop Wells volcano (Figure 1) could erupt through the repository (extrusive scenario), or an igneous dike could intersect it (intrusive scenario). Although the likelihood of either at Yucca Mountain is very low, each is being evaluated.