ABSTRACT: Most of the papers designated as being within the topic of underground storage at this Symposium are concerned with aspects of radioactive waste isolation. Although this is, unquestionably, an important international application of underground storage, and one involving a considerable number of research investigations, the subject of underground storage is indeed much broader. Several major international conferences have been devoted exclusively to it. Applications include storage, under a range of temperatures and pressures, of oil and liquefied petroleum products, compressed air, heat, foodstuffs of various kinds, hazardous and 'nuisance' industrial by-products, and a variety of special applications, both civilian and military - some in use, others proposed.

Storage may be in caverns excavated specifically for the purpose, exhausted mines may be adapted for storage or, in some cases, the material to be stored may be injected under pressure into the pore spaces of porous-permeable formations at depth. A variety of rock types and geological environments are used, e.g. excavations in salted or domal salt, where long-term creep closure of the openings is a concern; massive granite, where fluid loss through fissures may be important. Cavities may have spans of several tens of meters, and there is interest in achieving still larger excavations.

As would be expected, this breadth of underground storage applications introduces a similarly broad range of questions in rock mechanics and rock engineering. The report will review these questions and recent developments in rock mechanics research, computational procedures, and design applications - and will also discuss the opportunities for a still greater range of applications of underground storage to current industrial and social problems.

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