Contact Information

James D. Prikryl
(210) 522-5667
jprikryl@swri.org

Overview of the Peña Blanca Natural Analog Project

image: The Sierra Peña Blanca of northern Mexico is a geologic terrain in the Basin and Range province of western North America.

The Sierra Peña Blanca of northern Mexico is a geologic terrain in the Basin and Range province of western North America.

The Sierra Peña Blanca of northern Mexico has striking physical similarities to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s proposed Yucca Mountain, Nevada, high-level nuclear waste (HLW) geologic repository system.

Among the several uranium deposits in the Peña Blanca district, the Nopal I uranium deposit is the most relevant to an HLW repository at Yucca Mountain. Analogous aspects of the Nopal I deposit include silicic, tuffaceous host rocks, semi-arid climate, unsaturated hydrologic regime, and presence of uranium mineralization.

A variety of past and present processes at Nopal I are analogous to those that could affect spent nuclear fuel and radionuclide migration at Yucca Mountain. These processes include the oxidation and resulting dispersion of uranium from the sites of original mineralization and the formation of secondary uranium minerals.

Details about Peña Blanca geology and stratigraphy, uranium deposits, and Nopal I are available (pdf).

Related Terminology

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)  •  Yucca Mountain Project (YMP)  •  Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM)  •  Sierra Peña Blanca  •  Nopal I uranium deposit  •  uraninite alteration  •  Yucca Mountain  •  performance assessment modeling of nuclear waste geologic repositories

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04/15/14