Simulating Earthquake Rupture and Off‐Fault Fracture Response: Application to the Safety Assessment of the Swedish Nuclear Waste Repository

by Billy Fälth, Harald Hökmark, Björn Lund, P. Martin Mai, Roland Roberts, Raymond Munier
Year: 2015

Extra Information

Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 2015, Vol. 105, Issue 1, Pages 134-151.


To assess the long‐term safety of a deep repository of spent nuclear fuel, upper bound estimates of seismically induced secondary fracture shear displacements are needed. For this purpose, we analyze a model including an earthquake fault, which is surrounded by a number of smaller discontinuities representing fractures on which secondary displacements may be induced. Initial stresses are applied and a rupture is initiated at a predefined hypocenter and propagated at a specified rupture speed. During rupture we monitor shear displacements taking place on the nearby fracture planes in response to static as well as dynamic effects. As a numerical tool, we use the 3Dimensional Distinct Element Code (3DEC) because it has the capability to handle numerous discontinuities with different orientations and at different locations simultaneously. In tests performed to benchmark the capability of our method to generate and propagate seismic waves, 3DEC generates results in good agreement with results from both Stokes solution and the Compsyn code package. In a preliminary application of our method to the nuclear waste repository site at Forsmark, southern Sweden, we assume end‐glacial stress conditions and rupture on a shallow, gently dipping, highly prestressed fault with low residual strength. The rupture generates nearly complete stress drop and an Mw 5.6 event on the 12  km2 rupture area. Of the 1584 secondary fractures (150 m radius), with a wide range of orientations and locations relative to the fault, a majority move less than 5 mm. The maximum shear displacement is some tens of millimeters at 200 m fault‐fracture distance.