New method to more accurately spot underground nuclear tests

08 Feb 2024

A more accurate way of identifying underground nuclear tests, including those conducted in secret, has been developed by researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).  


The new method could help international observers better identify tests carried out by countries or actors known to possess nuclear weapons, as well as providing new information about those suspected of being armed.  


According to lead author Dr Mark Hoggard, in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis and Partial Test Ban Treaty in the 1960s, testing of nuclear weapons moved underground.  


While this eliminated some risks associated with contamination by radioactive fallout, underground tests still generate a huge amount of seismic energy. 


“The explosion goes off and you have all this energy that radiates out, which can be measured on seismometers,” Dr Hoggard said. 


“So, the science problem becomes how do we tell the difference between that and a naturally occurring earthquake?” 


Read the full story at ANU Reporter.