Many countries are currently exploring the option to dispose of highly radioactive solid wastes deep underground in purpose built, engineered repositories. A number of surface and shallow repositories for less radioactive wastes are already in operation. One of the challenges facing the nuclear industry is to demonstrate confidently that a repository will contain wastes for so long that any releases that might take place in the future will pose no significant health or environmental risk.
One method for building confidence in the long-term future safety of a repository is to look at the physical and chemical processes which operate in natural and archaeological systems, and to draw appropriate parallels with the repository. For example, to understand why some uranium orebodies have remained isolated underground for billions of years. Such studies are called 'natural analogues'.
This book investigates the concept of geological disposal and examines the wide range of natural analogues which have been studied. Lessons learnt from studies of archaeological and natural systems can be used to improve our capabilities for assessing the future safety of a radioactive waste repository.