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Nuclear Bomb or Earthquake? Explosions Reveal the Differences

A series of controlled chemical detonations in the Nevada desert is helping researchers discern between ground shaking caused by nuclear explosions and earthquakes.  EOS, By Katherine Kornei, 8 Sept 19

Earthquakes send energy rippling through the planet, but so does something decidedly human caused: an underground nuclear explosion. With the goal of monitoring the proliferation of nuclear weapons, scientists and engineers have been tasked with differentiating between these two types of energetic events. By collecting geophysical data from controlled detonations in the Nevada desert, researchers aim to do just that.

Rob Abbott, a seismologist at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., sums up the motivation for the project, known as the Source Physics Experiment: “Sometimes an explosion can look very earthquake-like, and sometimes an earthquake can look very explosion-like.”

Going Boom in the Desert

The Source Physics Experiment, which began in 2010, has conducted 10 controlled underground explosions at the Nevada National Security Site, a Rhode Island–sized facility roughly 105 kilometers northwest of Las Vegas. The detonations mimicked underground nuclear explosions, but the researchers used chemical explosives such as nitromethane rather than fission- or fusion-based bombs. …….

September 10, 2019 - Posted by | general

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