Nuclear Monitoring

Listening in on a nuclear test

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Science  22 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6284, pp. 425
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6284.425-a

Underground nuclear testing site at Frenchman Flats, Nevada, USA.

PHOTO: © KAREN KASMAUSKI/SCIENCE FACTION/CORBIS

Seismic energy sources generate low-frequency sound waves in the atmosphere called infrasound. Infrasound stations are one type of facility used to detect nuclear weapons tests. Assink et al. found a small infrasound signal from the 2016 nuclear test by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The signal was smaller than the one from their 2013 nuclear test, suggesting that the 2016 test may have occurred at greater depth. Infrasound stations provide monitoring for nuclear tests and can be combined with seismology to constrain source depth.

Geophys. Res. Lett. 10.1002/2016GL068497 (2016).

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