In the framework of evaluating the safety of a radioactive waste disposal in deep argillaceous formations and its assessment by the implementer, IRSN and MINES ParisTech built a hydrogeological model of the Paris Basin aquifer system with the aim of identifying radionuclide pathways, estimating transfer times associated with those pathways and locating potential outlets. Such modelling of fluid and mass transport through a sedimentary basin is a recurrent applied geology study. However, recent research shows that in a deep and saline environment, density effects induced by both temperature (to a small extent) and particularly salt concentration can play a major role in the predicted groundwater flow pathways.
The present study highlights the relevance of building a hydrogeological model from the measured hydrogeological and hydrogeochemical parameters by combining the calibration of the piezometric levels and the salinity values simultaneously. The application of this strategy to the Paris Basin shows that the Keuper halite formation (Triassic), located in the eastern part of the basin, can be considered as the unique salt source, provided that the density effects are taken into account in the flow and transport modelling. The calibration requires, in particular, to also take into account some of the basin’s major tectonic faults, which allow vertical hydraulic connections between aquifers and thus allow salt water fluxes toward the shallower formations.
The results presented in this paper show that when considering “thermohaline” effects, the model effectively reproduces the observed hydraulic heads and salinity values throughout the entire Paris Basin, whilst at the same time outlining the role of faults and of the geometry of geological formations on salt transport.