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Due to their particularly good mechanical and self-healing properties combined with exceptionally efficient cation adsorbents and exchanger capacities, clay minerals and clay rock formations are considered as suitable geological barriers for radioactive waste disposal. The Middle Jurassic Opalinus Clay Formation has been identified as a potential host rock. Logging data were measured at the Benken borehole drilled through this formation in northern Switzerland. This paper presents a statistical methodology to improve the description of the physical properties of the clay rock based on the well-log data. The methodology involves the classification of a set of local statistics, calculated from a reduced number of principal components computed from well-log properties. The use of a kernel-based method to calculate local statistics allows an analysis of spatial variability to be carried out at different scales, and with different scale effects. The first-order layering was found to be robust and independent of kernel size (i.e. observation scale), while preserving small-scale heterogeneities that are useful for further interpretation. The log units can be more clearly interpreted in terms of stationary or transitional log units, depending on the behaviour of local statistics. Finally, the derived spatial variability of the log-units properties are compared with earlier lithological descriptions and stratigraphic data.

Supplementary material: A spreadsheet summary with the determination of clustering parameters for a kernel size of 3 m is available at

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