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Encyclopedia > Underground nuclear testing

Underground nuclear testing refers to experiments with nuclear weapons that are performed underground. The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 1945, rose some 18 km (11 mi) above the epicenter. ...



Although public concern about fallout from nuclear testing grew in the early 1950s,[1][2] fallout was discovered after the Trinity test in 1945.[2] Photographic film manufacturers would later report 'fogged' films, these were traced both to Trinity and later tests at the Nevada Test Site.[2] Intense fallout from the 1953 Simon test was documented as far as Albany, New York.[2] An early stage in the Trinity fireball, photographed by Berlyn Brixner. ... 1945 (MCMVL) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1945 calendar). ... November 1951 nuclear test at Nevada Test Site. ... 1953 (MCMLIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link is to a full 1953 calendar). ...

The fallout from the March, 1954 Bravo test in the Pacific would have "scientific, political and social implications that have continued for more than 40 years."[3] The multi-megaton test caused fallout to occur on the islands of Rongerik and Rongelap, and a Japanese fishing boat known as the Lucky Dragon.[3] Prior to this test, there was "insufficient" appreciation of the dangers of fallout.[3] March is the third month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar and one of seven Gregorian months with the length of 31 days. ... 1954 (MCMLIV) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

The test became an international incident. In a PBS interview, the historian Martha Smith argued: "In Japan, it becomes a huge issue in terms of not just the government and its protest against the United States, but all different groups and all different peoples in Japan start to protest. It becomes a big issue in the media. There are all kinds of letters and protests that come from, not surprisingly, Japanese fishermen, the fishermen's wives; there are student groups, all different types of people; the protest against the Americans' use of the Pacific for nuclear testing. They're very concerned about, first of all, why the United States even has the right to be carrying out those kinds of tests in the Pacific. They're also concerned about the health and environmental impact."[4] The Prime Minister of India "voiced the heightened international concern" when he called for the elimination of all nuclear testing worldwide.[1]

Knowledge about fallout and its effects grew, and with it concern about the global environment and long-term genetic damage.[5] Talks between the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and the Soviet Union began in May 1955 on the subject of an international agreement to end nuclear tests.[5] On August 5, 1963, representatives of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty, forbidding testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, in space, and underwater.[6] Agreement was facilitated by the decision to allow underground testing, eliminating the need for on-site inspections that concerned the Soviets.[6] Underground testing was allowed, provided that it does not cause "radioactive debris to be present outside the territorial limits of the State under whose jurisdiction or control such explosion is conducted."[5] Look up May in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... 1955 (MCMLV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... August 5 is the 217th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (218th in leap years), with 148 days remaining. ... 1963 (MCMLXIII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (the link is to a full 1963 calendar). ... The Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space, and Under Water, often abbreviated as the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT), or Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (NTBT), although the former also refers to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), is a treaty...

Early history of underground testing

The 1951 Uncle test – the first underground nuclear explosion
The 1951 Uncle test – the first underground nuclear explosion

Following analysis of underwater detonations that were part of Operation Crossroads in 1946, inquiries were made regarding the possible military value of an underground explosion.[7] The Joint Chiefs of Staff thus obtained the agreement of the Atomic Energy Commission to perform experiments on both surface and sub-surface detonations.[7] The island of Amchitka was initially selected for these tests in 1950, but the site was later deemed unsuitable and the tests were moved the Nevada Test Site.[8] A 21 kiloton underwater nuclear weapons effects test, known as Operation Crossroads (Event Baker), conducted at Bikini Atoll (1946). ... Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States of America symbol The Joint Chiefs of Staff, photographed in the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gold Room in the Pentagon on Jan. ... Shield of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. ... Amchitka is an island in the Rat Islands group of the Aleutian Islands in southwest Alaska. ... 1950 (MCML) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ... November 1951 nuclear test at Nevada Test Site. ...

The first underground nuclear test was conducted on 29 November 1951.[9][10][11] This was the 1.2 kiloton Buster-Jangle Uncle,[12] detonated 5.2m (17ft) beneath ground level.[10] The test was designed as a scaled-down investigation of the effects of a 23 kiloton ground penetrating gun-type device that was then being considered for use as a cratering and bunker-buster weapon.[13] The explosion resulted in a cloud that rose to 11,500 ft, and deposited fallout to the north and north-northeast.[14] The resulting crater was 260 feet wide and 53 feet deep.[13] November 29 is the 333rd (in leap years the 334th) day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1951 (MCMLI) was a common year starting on Monday; see its calendar. ... A megaton or megatonne is a unit of mass equal to 1,000,000 metric tons, i. ... Gun-type fission weapons are fission-based nuclear weapons whose design assembles their fissile material into a supercritical mass by the use of the gun method: shooting one piece of sub-critical material into another. ... A bunker buster bomb is designed to penetrate hardened targets or targets buried deep underground. ...

The next underground test was Teapot Ess, on 23 March 1955.[10] The 1 kiloton explosion was an operational test of an atomic demolition munition (ADM).[15] It was detonated 67 feet underground, in a shaft lined with corrugated steel, which was then back-filled with sandbags and dirt.[16] Because the ADM was buried underground, the explosion blew tons of earth upwards,[15] creating a crater 300 feet wide and 128 feet deep.[16] The resulting cloud rose to a height of 12,000 feet and subsequent fallout drifted in an easterly direction, travelling as far as 225 km from ground zero.[15] March 23 is the 82nd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (83rd in Leap years). ... 1955 (MCMLV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

On 26 July 1957, Plumbbob Pascal-A was detonated at the bottom of a 485-foot shaft.[17][18] According to one description, it "ushered in the era of underground testing with a magnificent pyrotechnic Roman candle!"[19] As compared with an above-ground test, the radioactive debris released to the atmosphere was reduced by a factor of ten.[19] Theoretical work began on possible containment schemes.[19] July 26 is the 207th day (208th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian Calendar, with 158 days remaining. ... 1957 (MCMLVII) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Plumbbob Rainier was detonated at 899 ft underground on 19 September 1957.[17] The 1.7 kt explosion was the first to be entirely contained underground, producing no fallout.[20] The test took place in a 1,600[21] – 2,000 ft[22] horizontal tunnel in the shape of a hook.[22] The hook "was designed so explosive force will seal off the non-curved portion of tunnel nearest the detonation before gases and fission fragments can be prevented around the curve of the tunnel's hook."[22] This test would become the prototype for larger, more powerful tests.[20] Rainier was announced in advance, so that seismic stations could attempt to record a signal.[23] Analysis of samples collected after the test enabled scientists to develop an understanding of underground explosions that "persists essentially unaltered today."[23] The information would later provide a basis for subsequent decisions to agree to the Limited Test Ban Treaty.[23] September 19 is the 262nd day of the year (263rd in leap years). ... 1957 (MCMLVII) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Notes and references

  1. ^ a b History of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.
  2. ^ a b c d Ortmeyer, Pat, Makhijani, Arjun (November/December 1997). "Let Them Drink Milk". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
  3. ^ a b c Eisenbud, Merril (July 1997). "Monitoring distant fallout: The role of the Atomic Energy Commission Health and Safety Laboratory during the Pacific tests, with special attention to the events following Bravo". Health Physics 73 (1).
  4. ^ Martha Smith on: The Impact of the Bravo Test. Public Broadcasting Service.
  5. ^ a b c Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water. US Department of State.
  6. ^ a b JFK in History: Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
  7. ^ a b Gladeck, F, Johnson A. (1986). For the Record - A History of the Nuclear Test Personnel Review Program, 1978-1986 (DNA 601F). Defense Nuclear Agency.
  8. ^ Amchitka Island, Alaska: Potential U.S. Department of Energy site responsibilities (DOE/NV-526). Department of Energy (December 1998). Retrieved on 2006-10-09.
  9. ^ Today in Technology History: November 29. The Center for the Study of Technology and Society.
  10. ^ a b c Adushkin, Vitaly V.; Leith, William (September 2001). USGS Open File Report 01-312: Containment of Soviet underground nuclear explosions. US Department of the Interior Geological Survey.
  11. ^ Some sources identify later tests as the "first." Adushkin (2001) defines such a test as "the near-simultaneous detonation of one or more nuclear charges inside one underground excavation (a tunnel, shaft or borehole)," and identifies Uncle as the first.
  12. ^ Some sources refer to the test as Jangle Uncle (eg., Adushkin, 2001) or Project Windstorm (eg., DOE/NV-526, 1998). Operation Buster and Operation Jangle were initially conceived as separate operations, and Jangle was at first known as Windstorm, but the AEC merged the plans into a single operation on 19 June 1951. See Gladeck, 1986.
  13. ^ a b Operation Buster-Jangle. The Nuclear Weapons Archive.
  14. ^ Ponton, Jean, et al (June 1982). Shots Sugar and Uncle: The final tests of the Buster-Jangle series (DNA 6025F). Defense Nuclear Agency.
  15. ^ a b c Ponton, Jean, et al (November 1981). Shots Ess through Met and Shot Zucchini: The final Teapot tests (DNA 6013F). Defense Nuclear Agency.
  16. ^ a b Operation Teapot. The Nuclear Weapons Archive.
  17. ^ a b Operation Plumbbob. The Nuclear Weapons Archive.
  18. ^ According to the Nuclear Weapons Archive, the yield is described as "slight", but was approximately 55 tons.
  19. ^ a b c Campbell, Bob, et al (1983). "Field Testing: The Physical Proof of Design Principles". Los Alamos Science.
  20. ^ a b Operation Plumbbob. Department of Energy.
  21. ^ Rollins, Gene (2004). ORAU Team: NIOSH Dose Reconstruction Project. Centers for Disease Control.
  22. ^ a b c Plumbbob Photographs. Los Alamos National Laboratory.
  23. ^ a b c Accomplishments in the 1950s. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

2006 (MMVI) is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... October 9 is the 282nd day of the year (283rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... June 19 is the 170th day of the year (171st in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 195 days remaining. ... 1951 (MCMLI) was a common year starting on Monday; see its calendar. ...

External links

Fallout and Test Ban history

  Results from FactBites:
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Additionally, nuclear testing has often been used as an indicator of scientific and military strength and many tests have been overtly political in their intention, and most nuclear weapons states publicly declared their nuclear status by means of a nuclear test.
Nuclear explosions which are close enough to the ground to draw dirt and debris into their mushroom cloud can generate large amounts of nuclear fallout due to irradiation of the debris.
Nuclear testing has since become a controversial issue in the United States, with a number of politicians saying that future testing might be necessary to maintain the aging warheads from the Cold War.
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Tests in vertical drill holes are of two types: smaller-yield devices in relatively shallow holes in the Yucca Flat area (Areas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10) and higher-yield devices in deeper holes on Pahute Mesa (Areas 18, 19, and 20).
The nuclear explosive and special measurement devices are moved to the hole and lowered to the detonation position; all required diagnostic materials and instrumentation cables are also lowered into the hole at this time.
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