Skip to comments.Nuclear detectives sniff out North Korea - Radioisotopes may provide key details on nuclear test.
Posted on 02/13/2013 2:50:15 AM PST by neverdem
With this morning's announcement by North Korea that it has conducted its third nuclear test, experts are closely watching a network of seismic monitoring stations for hints of what sort of test it was. Ratios of radioisotopes could help to verify the explosion and perhaps even provide clues about the type of device detonated but only if the radioactive gases can be identified before they decay.
Seismic stations detected the underground blast at 9:57 a.m. local time. The data, from the US Geological Survey and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), showed a sudden, strong earthquake occurring at a depth of about 1 kilometre from the surface in the same region as North Korea's two previous nuclear tests. The blast, which registered on seismographs at around 5.0 in magnitude, was roughly twice the power of the country's last test in 2009. That puts it in the range of several kilotonnes of TNT, according to Tibor Tóth, head of the CTBTO in Vienna, which monitors globally for clandestine nuclear testing.
The seismic signature, together with North Korea's open declaration of having conducted a test, are strong evidence for a nuclear detonation. But "the smoking gun will be the potential radionuclide release, says Lassina Zerbo, who oversees the CTBTO's data centre. In particular, researchers will be looking for radioactive isotopes of xenon produced in the explosion.
Xenon, a noble gas, interacts only weakly with the environment and can thus slip unimpeded through the rocks and backfill that North Korea's scientists will have used to seal the entrance to the test tunnel. Once airborne, it can drift towards the CTBTO's monitoring stations, which are located in countries including China, Japan and Mongolia, where it can be detected using a specially developed gas chromatograph. The US Air Force...
(Excerpt) Read more at nature.com ...
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Wonder what would determine an EMP nuke.?
DU is convinced it was not a nuclear explosion and was just a bunch of TNT. I’m pretty sure the seismic data proves that they had low 2-5kt explosions. BTW, that, when shrunk down, is way more than enough to trigger a thermonuclear bomb. It appears that only a few hundred KT’s are enough for that.
IMO, they are going for smaller warheads that can be loaded on missiles quickly and also to for future triggers for larger thermonuclear devices.