Scientific Support Programme

For the first time in the history of the Clay Conference we are pleased to offer an extended Scientific Support Programme to enrich and deepen your learning and networking experience during the Clay Conference 2024.


Sunday, 24th of November 2024 – 15:00 to 18:00, HCC,
followed by the icebreaker event

Outstanding lecturers will introduce foundational knowledge, state of the art and current challenges of three major topics of the Clay Conference. This is the perfect preparation for a week packed with excellent science and will give you a better understanding of related topics outside your specific expertise. We invite not only students but every participant to broaden their scientific horizon and start off the conference with a short introduction to the most important aspects.
Participation is free but registration is mandatory for planning purposes. In case of low registration counts, we reserve the right to cancel the event without substitution. Schedule to be decided.

Flow and solute/radionuclide transport in argillaceous media
Thorsten Schäfer, University Jena, Germany

Modelling and coupled processes in Engineered Barrier Systems
Wiebke Baille, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany

Chemical and mineralogical alteration and corrosion processes and reactive transport modelling in the near field
Paul Wersin, University of Bern, Switzerland

Meet the Editor: Meet and Eat

Thursday, 28th of November 2024 – 12:30 to 13:30, HCC

Are you new to publishing scientific articles? Are you interested in submitting your manuscript to the special issues of the Clay Conference 2024? Do you want to become an editor or a reviewer? Are you wondering what they actually do as an editor?
Then this event is for you!
Meet members of the editorial team of the Clay Conference 2024 special issues/conference proceedings and take the opportunity to ask your questions. This will be organised as an informal gathering during lunch.
Participation is free but registration is mandatory for planning purposes.

Technical excursions to deep geological repository sites and mines (DGR)

Friday, 29th of November 2024 early morning until afternoon,
including bus transfer from/to Hannover

BGE operates three deep geological facilities for the purpose of radioactive waste management. Each of them with different history, different conditions, in different stages of the disposal program and hence each with different challenges to deal with.
We offer underground tours providing information and fostering technical exchange.
Due to operational and safety issues the numbers of participants are limited. Before registration, you are asked to read, understand and accept these terms and conditions for excursions to DGR.
The fee will cover transport from and to Hannover and catering.

Friday, 29th of November 2024 early morning until afternoon, bus transport from and to Hannover is included

90€ per Person, incl. taxes

In 2007 the Konrad site was licenced as a deep geological repository for 303,000 m³ low- and intermediate level radioactive waste. It is currently being constructed on the site of a former iron mine making use of both shafts but the final repository will consist of new excavated and built facilities above and below ground. The DGR Konrad is located in sedimentary rocks and is covered by thick layers of clay as geological barrier. The final disposal of the radioactive waste is set to begin in the early 2030s.

Friday, 29th of November 2024 early morning until afternoon, bus transport from and to Hannover is included

90€ per Person, incl. taxes

In 1986, the former salt mine Morsleben with an extension of 5.6 x 1.7 km² was licensed by the German Democratic Republic as a deep geological repository for low- and intermediate level radioactive waste. Since then until 1998 almost 37,000 m³ of waste have been emplaced. The final licence for closure is yet to be issued. To that end, the BGE is conducting several in-situ tests and experiments, e.g. salt concrete for backfill, plugs & seals and monitoring techniques.

Lab-tours, workshops and seminars

Thursday and Friday, 28th & 29th of November 2024 at BGR (Stilleweg 2, Hannover)

The Scientific Support Programme of the BGR will take place Thursday, 28th of November 2024 afternoon and Friday, 29th of November 2024 morning at BGR (Stilleweg 2, Hannover). The wide range of lab-tours, workshops and seminars will cover seven of the 10 topics of the conference.

Thursday 28th of November 2024, 14:30-16:00

Jochen Erbacher, André Bornemann
Middle Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous mudstones represent important barrier rocks in the subsurface of Germany. We will provide the opportunity to have a detailed look at drill cores of Lower Cretaceous from Lower Saxony and the Jurassic Opalinus Clay from SW Germany in order to discuss the geology and stratigraphy of these successions.

Rock mechanics laboratory (1.5 hours)

Thursday 28th of November 2024, 14:30-16:00 & Friday, 29th of November 2024, 09:00

Sandra Schumacher, Werner Graesle, Ben Laurich
The rock mechanics laboratory of BGR consists of several triaxial testing machines which were explicitly designed for salt samples. As such they are able to measure samples with diameters of up to 10 cm. In recent times, these machines have been modified to also serve claystone samples by enabling flow through the samples. This will provide an opportunity to discuss recent advances regarding testing equipment and testing strategies on claystones.

Laboratory for the mechanics of geotechnical barrier materials (1.5 hours)

Thursday 28th of November 2024, 14:30-16:00 & Friday, 29th of November 2024, 09:00-10:30

Ben Laurich, Konny Zemke
Geotechnical barrier materials must undergo synthesis before testing. In the case of crushed salt and bentonite, we employ triaxial and oedometric cells, each utilizing distinct environmental settings. Our goal is to empirically and process-basedly comprehend how and when crushed salt and bentonite effectively seal off radioactive waste. We are delighted to showcase the equipment and sample materials we employ for this endeavor.

Measureing Low Permeable Materials (1.5 hours)

Thursday 28th of November 2024, 14:30-16:00 & Friday, 29th of November 2024, 09:00-10:30

Ben Laurich, Nina Stoppe-Struck
When it comes to the safe long-term storage of waste, permeability stands out as the most crucial material property. However, measuring low-permeable materials is challenging, arising from variations in material composition, measurement techniques, and the equipment utilized. We aim to connect with fellow enthusiasts in this field to exchange experiences, and we are pleased to share insights from our relevant work with interested newcomers.

Workshop & lab-tour: Experiments to study gas generation in host rocks and barrier material (3 hours)

Thursday 28th of November 2024, 14:30-17:30

Christian Ostertag-Henning
In subsurface repositories for high level nuclear waste different processes result in gas formation. Corrosion, thermally induced gas generation or gas release by desorption or exsolution may result in the formation of a gas phase and induce pressure buildup in the repository after closure. During the past decades, different experimental avenues to investigate the gas formation processes have been developed. These include experiments with intact rock cores, crushed rock material, or pulverized rock, and in systems of pressure reactors mimicking in situ conditions, or simple batch type reactors, to in situ experiments in subsurface labs, with online analysis facilities or offline sampling - all with their advantages and disadvantages. The workshop aims to bring together more and less experienced users of experimental setups, highlight open questions/need for development, foster networking amongst the experimentalists, and initiate discussion on a possible interlab comparison experiment in 2025. In addition, in a guided lab tour we will discuss advantages and limitations of different experimental setups used at BGR in this context.

Workshop & lab-tour: XRD-Rietveld, bentonite alteration, surface chemistry, cation exchange, pore characterization, and particle size (3 hours)

Thursday 28th of November 2024, 14:30-17:30 & Friday, 29th of November 2024, 09:00-12:00

Kristian Ufer, Reiner Dohrmann, Stephan Kaufhold, Ben Laurich, Christian Weber
The clay mineralogy laboratory of BGR consists of several analytical techniques. Our research focus is on the one hand i) development of suitable methods and on the other hand ii) application of techniques on clay samples for understanding of processes in barrier systems (lab and URL studies). Depending on the interest, small specialized groups may be split for intensive discussion about:

  • XRD Rietveld refinement of disordered clay minerals in sedimentary clay formations and bentonites – discussion about suitable structure models, their possibilities and limitations.
  • Bentonite block sampling techniques (hands on) and analytical setup for the investigation of interface reactions.
  • Potentiometric titrations for surface charge density determination and electrokinetic methods with an emphasis on studying transport phenomena. In addition discussions on the calculation of surface forces are welcome.
  • Cation exchange of bentonites in in-situ experiments and of sedimentary clay formations – special methods and how to avoid artefacts.
  • Spatial distribution of pores in clay rocks – BIB-SEM
  • Particle size analysis – challenging the influence of sample disaggregation.

Thursday, 28th of November 2024, 14:30-17:30 & Friday, 29th of November 2024, 09:00-12:00

Michael Pitz
Field trips, for example in the framework of international conferences, give guests and scientist the chance to see and "feel" geological features, experimental setups or technical facilities first hand. This seminar attempts to provide a comparable experience – with the difference that participants will see and "feel" partial differential equations as well as their implementation into code. The objective of this seminar is thus to highlight and illustrate the work conducted by numerical THM modelling groups in an interactive manner. Participants will be introduced to a mathematical model (based on the theory of porous media) describing fluid flow and they will implement some code in Python (finite differences scheme) to numerically solve a partial differential equation for an example motivated by deep geological storage of radioactive waste. While computers will be provided for this seminar, each participant is free to take home the code for future reference. This seminar is aimed at non-experts or PhD students who would appreciate an interactive introduction to numerical THM modelling.

Thursday 28th of November 2024: 14:30-17:00

Jürgen Hesser, Gesa Zielfle, Thies Beilecke, Markus Furche
Against the background of the requirements for the in-situ investigations and the determination of the specific parameters for a safety assessment for the disposal of radioactive waste, selected methods and instruments for the characterization of host rocks and barrier rocks will exemplarily be presented and the following aspects are highlighted: Which material parameters are used in modelling? What level of detail is necessary? And furthermore – which process variables have to be investigated with regard to the model set-up: What about simplifications regarding heterogeneities like EDZ or fault zones? What about the impact of geotechnical boundary conditions?

Laboratory visits including theoretical background

Thursday, 28th of November 2024 afternoon and Friday, 29th of November 2024 morning to lunch approximately at BGR (Stilleweg 2, Hannover)

Details will be published in due course.

Scientific excursions to BGE’s (underground) sites

Friday, 29th of November 2024 ca. morning until early afternoon

Details will be published in due course.