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Yucca Mountain, a site in southwest Nevada, has been proposed for a deep underground radioactive waste repository. An extensive database of geochemical and isotopic characteristics has been established for pore waters and gases from the unsaturated zone, perched water, and saturated zone waters in the Yucca Mountain area. The development of this database has been driven by diverse needs of the Yucca Mountain Project, especially those aspects of the project involving process modeling and performance assessment. Water and gas chemistries influence the sorption behavior of radionuclides and the solubility of the radionuclide compounds that form. The chemistry of waters that may infiltrate the proposed repository will be determined in part by that of water present in the unsaturated zone above the proposed repository horizon, whereas pore-water compositions beneath the repository horizon will influence the sorption behavior of the radionuclides transported toward the water table. However, more relevant to the discussion in this chapter, development and testing of conceptual flow and transport models for the Yucca Mountain hydrologic system are strengthened through the incorporation of natural environmental tracer data into the process. Chemical and isotopic data are used to establish bounds on key hydrologic parameters and to provide corroborative evidence for model assumptions and predictions. Examples of specific issues addressed by these data include spatial and temporal variability in net fluxes, the role of faults in controlling flow paths, fracture-matrix interactions, the age and origin of perched water, and the distribution of water traveltimes.

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