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Groundwater hydrologists are becoming increasingly aware that inadequate and insufficient data limit the reliability of traditional deterministic [distributedparameter] groundwater models. 10 To carry out these [repository flow] calculations, hydrogeologists are applying geostatistical models and stochastic simulation methods originally developed to assess piezometric response in near-surface unconsolidated aquifers over limited spatial distances and short time frames with relatively abundant data.

Natural analogues, if they can be found, are far more useful for this purpose (see below). Problems of repository performance assessment, according to the scheme shown in Figure 1, belong in Region 2 or at the border between Regions 4 and 2. However, there is a general tendency to assume that we can address them using a Region 3 approach: that is, start with a deterministic model that incorporates all “relevant” contributors to overall behavior, and then attempt to collect enough data to move the problem from Region 2 into Region 3.

An iterative approach, on the other hand, could allow characterization efforts to give priority to major uncertainties and risks, while there is still time and money left to do something about them. As in probabilistic risk assessment, analysis focuses on efforts to reduce the important risks and uncertainties. In this case, that means acquiring information on the design features and licensing criteria that are most likely to determine whether the site is suitable or should be abandoned. • Fixing problems vs.

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