In the orogenic field Japanese islands, there are wide areas of crystalline rocks that inevitably contain groundwater conductive fractures associated with alteration zones. However, little attention has been given to the formation process and possible influence on the radionuclides migration from radioactive waste repository that might be sited within crystalline rock. In particular, the influences of alteration minerals and microfractures, due to chemical sorption and/or physical retardation are required to assess the realistic barrier function. In order to understand the alteration process and the retardation capacity, detailed mineralogical and physico-chemical characterization of altered crystalline rocks have been carried out. Mineralogical analysis reveals that the altered crystalline rocks have been formed through basically two stages of water-rock interaction during and after uplift. Physico-chemical characteristics including laboratory sorption experiments show that altered crystalline rock has a certain volume of accessible porosity, particularly in plagioclase grains, which would influence on nuclide retardation more than the accessible porosity in other minerals present, such as biotite. These results provide confidence that even altered and fractured parts of any crystalline rock that might be encountered in a site for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste may still play a role of barrier function.

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