Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Historic Soviet nuclear test site offers insights for today's nuclear monitoring

21.04.2008
Newly published data from the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site, the Soviet Union’s primary nuclear weapons testing ground during the Cold War, can help today’s atomic detectives fine-tune their monitoring of nuclear explosions around the world, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America.

From 1949 to 1989, Semipalatinsk was scrutinized furtively by U2 spy planes, satellites and seismologists hoping to learn more about the Soviet Union’s weapons capabilities. Now, for the first time, researchers can compare the information gleaned from these operations with the actual records from the test site to see how accurate Western researchers were in predicting the number and size of Semipalatinsk’s nuclear detonations.

The treasure trove of data from Semipalatinsk are especially important in light of the fact that only three nuclear tests—back-to-back tests in India and Pakistan in 1998 and a 2006 test in North Korea--have been conducted since the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1996, said Paul Richards of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

As nuclear monitoring techniques have improved over the past ten years, “there has also been a lack—thank goodness—of weapons tests to actually record, from which to gain monitoring experience,” Richards, an expert in using seismological methods to detect nuclear tests, said. “It is therefore helpful in training ourselves today, in the work of monitoring, to look back at monitoring efforts in the past --- to see how well we did and what the challenges were.”

The first nuclear detonations near Semipalatinsk in the 1940s were above ground, and the U.S. Air Force collected atmospheric traces of the explosions. Testing moved underground in later decades, and seismological data became the primary way of monitoring the tests. In all, 456 nuclear tests took place at the site, with the last occurring in 1989. The veil of secrecy surrounding the site was lifted in the 1990s, when details of the tests were published in numerous books and scientific papers in Russia and Kazakhstan.

By comparing historical monitoring data with information from the new publications, Richards and colleagues can determine which underground tests were detected through seismic data at great distances, versus which kinds of tests would be detected by regional seismic stations today. They can also compare the monitors’ estimates of weapons yield—the size of the explosions—with the official estimates in the publications.

So far, the comparisons suggest “that today we can do a very good job indeed” of monitoring nuclear tests using seismological and other data, Richards said.

The new publications also offer a glimpse at how the Soviet-era nuclear program was organized and led, how radioactivity from the explosions affected people and animals, and how the overall environmental health of the area was altered by decades-long testing, he noted.

Nan Broadbent | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.seismosoc.org
http://www.LDEO.columbia.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht First research results on the "spectacular meteorite fall" of Flensburg
18.02.2020 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

nachricht The Antarctica Factor: model uncertainties reveal upcoming sea-level risk
14.02.2020 | Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Freiburg researcher investigate the origins of surface texture

Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.

Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...

Im Focus: Skyrmions like it hot: Spin structures are controllable even at high temperatures

Investigation of the temperature dependence of the skyrmion Hall effect reveals further insights into possible new data storage devices

The joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that had previously demonstrated...

Im Focus: Making the internet more energy efficient through systemic optimization

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.

Streaming films and music, scrolling through social media, and using cloud-based storage services are everyday activities now.

Im Focus: New synthesis methods enhance 3D chemical space for drug discovery

After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis -- carbon-hydrogen functionalization -- scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery. Nature Catalysis published their most recent work -- a streamlined process for making a three-dimensional scaffold of keen interest to the pharmaceutical industry.

"Our tools open up whole new chemical space for potential drug targets," says Huw Davies, Emory professor of organic chemistry and senior author of the paper.

Im Focus: Quantum fluctuations sustain the record superconductor

Superconductivity approaching room temperature may be possible in hydrogen-rich compounds at much lower pressures than previously expected

Reaching room-temperature superconductivity is one of the biggest dreams in physics. Its discovery would bring a technological revolution by providing...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Around 70 Laureates set to meet with young scientists from approx. 100 countries

12.02.2020 | Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Time-resolved measurement in a memory device

19.02.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Mixed-signal hardware security thwarts powerful electromagnetic attacks

19.02.2020 | Information Technology

Could water solve the renewable energy storage challenge?

19.02.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>