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Title: Vesicle Size Distribution as a Novel Nuclear Forensics Tool

Abstract

The first nuclear bomb detonation on Earth involved a plutonium implosion-type device exploded at the Trinity test site (33°40'38.28"N, 106°28'31.44"W), White Sands Proving Grounds, near Alamogordo, New Mexico. Melting and subsequent quenching of the local arkosic sand produced glassy material, designated “Trinitite”. In cross section, Trinitite comprises a thin (1–2 mm), primarily glassy surface above a lower zone (1–2 cm) of mixed melt and mineral fragments from the precursor sand. Multiple hypotheses have been put forward to explain these well-documented but heterogeneous textures. In this study, we report the first quantitative textural analysis of vesicles in Trinitite to constrain their physical and thermal history. Vesicle morphology and size distributions confirm the upper, glassy surface records a distinct processing history from the lower region, that is useful in determining the original sample surface orientation. Specifically, the glassy layer has lower vesicle density, with larger sizes and more rounded population in cross-section. This vertical stratigraphy is attributed to a two-stage evolution of Trinitite glass from quench cooling of the upper layer followed by prolonged heating of the subsurface. Finally, defining the physical regime of post-melting processes constrains the potential for surface mixing and vesicle formation in a post-detonation environment.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [1]
  1. Univ. of Notre Dame, IN (United States). Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. of Notre Dame, IN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
1337765
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1435174
Grant/Contract Number:  
NA0001112; PDP11-40
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Published Article
Journal Name:
PLoS ONE
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 11; Journal Issue: 9; Journal ID: ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher:
Public Library of Science
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Donohue, Patrick H., and Simonetti, Antonio. Vesicle Size Distribution as a Novel Nuclear Forensics Tool. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0163516.
Donohue, Patrick H., & Simonetti, Antonio. Vesicle Size Distribution as a Novel Nuclear Forensics Tool. United States. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0163516.
Donohue, Patrick H., and Simonetti, Antonio. Thu . "Vesicle Size Distribution as a Novel Nuclear Forensics Tool". United States. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0163516.
@article{osti_1337765,
title = {Vesicle Size Distribution as a Novel Nuclear Forensics Tool},
author = {Donohue, Patrick H. and Simonetti, Antonio},
abstractNote = {The first nuclear bomb detonation on Earth involved a plutonium implosion-type device exploded at the Trinity test site (33°40'38.28"N, 106°28'31.44"W), White Sands Proving Grounds, near Alamogordo, New Mexico. Melting and subsequent quenching of the local arkosic sand produced glassy material, designated “Trinitite”. In cross section, Trinitite comprises a thin (1–2 mm), primarily glassy surface above a lower zone (1–2 cm) of mixed melt and mineral fragments from the precursor sand. Multiple hypotheses have been put forward to explain these well-documented but heterogeneous textures. In this study, we report the first quantitative textural analysis of vesicles in Trinitite to constrain their physical and thermal history. Vesicle morphology and size distributions confirm the upper, glassy surface records a distinct processing history from the lower region, that is useful in determining the original sample surface orientation. Specifically, the glassy layer has lower vesicle density, with larger sizes and more rounded population in cross-section. This vertical stratigraphy is attributed to a two-stage evolution of Trinitite glass from quench cooling of the upper layer followed by prolonged heating of the subsurface. Finally, defining the physical regime of post-melting processes constrains the potential for surface mixing and vesicle formation in a post-detonation environment.},
doi = {10.1371/journal.pone.0163516},
journal = {PLoS ONE},
number = 9,
volume = 11,
place = {United States},
year = {Thu Sep 22 00:00:00 EDT 2016},
month = {Thu Sep 22 00:00:00 EDT 2016}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record at 10.1371/journal.pone.0163516

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