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Title: Simulation Study of Near-Surface Coupling of Nuclear Devices vs. Equivalent High-Explosive Charges

A computational study was performed to examine the differences in near-surface ground-waves and air-blast waves generated by high-explosive energy sources and those generated by much higher energy - density low - yield nuclear sources. The study examined the effect of explosive-source emplacement (i.e., height-of-burst, HOB, or depth-of-burial, DOB) over a range from depths of -35m to heights of 20m, for explosions with an explosive yield of 1-kt . The chemical explosive was modeled by a JWL equation-of-state model for a ~14m diameter sphere of ANFO (~1,200,000kg – 1 k t equivalent yield ), and the high-energy-density source was modeled as a one tonne (1000 kg) plasma of ‘Iron-gas’ (utilizing LLNL’s tabular equation-of-state database, LEOS) in a 2m diameter sphere, with a total internal-energy content equivalent to 1 k t . A consistent equivalent-yield coupling-factor approach was developed to compare the behavior of the two sources. The results indicate that the equivalent-yield coupling-factor for air-blasts from 1 k t ANFO explosions varies monotonically and continuously from a nearly perfec t reflected wave off of the ground surface for a HOB ≈ 20m, to a coupling factor of nearly zero at DOB ≈ -25m. The nuclear air - blast coupling curve, onmore » the other hand, remained nearly equal to a perfectly reflected wave all the way down to HOB’s very near zero, and then quickly dropped to a value near zero for explosions with a DOB ≈ -10m. The near - surface ground - wave traveling horizontally out from the explosive source region to distances of 100’s of meters exhibited equivalent - yield coupling - factors t hat varied nearly linearly with HOB/DOB for the simulated ANFO explosive source, going from a value near zero at HOB ≈ 5m to nearly one at DOB ≈ -25m. The nuclear-source generated near-surface ground wave coupling-factor remained near zero for almost all HOB’s greater than zero, and then appeared to vary nearly - linearly with depth-of-burial until it reached a value of one at a DOB between 15m and 20m. These simulations confirm the expected result that the variation of coupling to the ground, or the air, change s much more rapidly with emplacement location for a high-energy-density (i.e., nuclear-like) explosive source than it does for relatively low - energy - density chemical explosive sources. The Energy Partitioning, Energy Coupling (EPEC) platform at LLNL utilizes laser energy from one quad (i.e. 4-laser beams) of the 192 - beam NIF Laser bank to deliver ~10kJ of energy to 1mg of silver in a hohlraum creating an effective small-explosive ‘source’ with an energy density comparable to those in low-yield nuclear devices. Such experiments have the potential to provide direct experimental confirmation of the simulation results obtained in this study, at a physical scale (and time-scale) which is a factor of 1000 smaller than the spatial- or temporal-scales typically encountered when dealing with nuclear explosions.« less
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  1. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Livermore, CA
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Country of Publication:
United States