Computer graphics systems that provide interactive display and manipulation of three-dimensional data are powerful tools for the analysis and communication of technical information required for characterization and design of a geologic repository for nuclear waste. Greater understanding of site performance and repository design information is possible when performance-assessment modeling results can be visually analyzed in relation to site geologic and hydrologic information and engineering data for surface and subsurface facilities. In turn, this enhanced visualization capability provides better communication between technical staff and program management with respect to analysis of available information and prioritization of program planning.
A commercially-available computer system was used to demonstrate some of the current technology for three-dimensional visualization within the architecture of information systems for nuclear waste management. This computer system was used to interactively visualize and analyze the information for two examples: 1) site-characterization and engineering data for a potential geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada; and 2) three-dimensional simulations of a hypothetical release and transport of contaminants from a source of radionuclides to the vadose zone. Users may assess the three-dimensional distribution of data and modeling results by interactive zooming, rotating, slicing, and peeling operations. For those parts of the database where information is sparse or not available, the software incorporates models for the interpolation and extrapolation of data over the three-dimensional space of interest.