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Title: Delayed signatures of underground nuclear explosions

Radionuclide signals from underground nuclear explosions (UNEs) are strongly influenced by the surrounding hydrogeologic regime. One effect of containment is delay of detonation-produced radioxenon reaching the surface as well as lengthening of its period of detectability compared to uncontained explosions. Using a field-scale tracer experiment, we evaluate important transport properties of a former UNE site. Here, we observe the character of signals at the surface due to the migration of gases from the post-detonation chimney under realistic transport conditions. Background radon signals are found to be highly responsive to cavity pressurization suggesting that large local radon anomalies may be an indicator of a clandestine UNE. Computer simulations, using transport properties obtained from the experiment, track radioxenon isotopes in the chimney and their migration to the surface. They show that the chimney surrounded by a fractured containment regime behaves as a leaky chemical reactor regarding its effect on isotopic evolution introducing a dependence on nuclear yield not previously considered. This evolutionary model for radioxenon isotopes is validated by atmospheric observations of radioxenon from a 2013 UNE in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). In conclusion, our model produces results similar to isotopic observations with nuclear yields being comparable to seismicmore » estimates.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2]
  1. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
  2. National Security Technologies, Las Vegas, NV (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1259513
Grant/Contract Number:
AC52-07NA27344
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
73 NUCLEAR PHYSICS AND RADIATION PHYSICS