Remote monitoring of former underground nuclear explosion sites predominantly in the former USSR

V. P. B U S Y GIN, Defence Department, Russia

DOI: 10.1533/9780857097446.3.833

Abstract: This chapter reviews and discusses the effects of residual features on the long-term geothermal activity in the epicentral zone of underground nuclear explosions (UGE). The thermal anomaly parameters and their connection to carrying out thermal surveys and surface thermal logging on the present day surface are determined. A remote method of measuring the thermal anomalies is proposed.

Key words: underground nuclear explosion, radioactive waste, thermal radiation, monitoring, epicentral zone.

27.1 Introduction

Worldwide, 2,054 nuclear explosions have been conducted since 1945, including 1,524 underground explosions (many explosions were carried out in groups) (Kochran et al., 1992; Mikhailov, 1992, 2001). The last 1,373 explo­sions were performed at special nuclear test sites:

• 333 explosions at Semipalatinsk and West Kazakhstan (former Soviet territory, at present the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan),

• 39 explosions at Novaya Zemlya (Russia),

• 781 explosions in the US (Nevada),

• 3 explosions in the USA on the Island of Amchitka (Alaska) landfills,

• 13 explosions in Algeria (District Hoggar),

• 147 explosions on the islands of Mururoa and Fangataufa (France)

• 24 explosions at the Nevada test site in the US were performed by the United Kingdom,

• 24 explosions were performed at the Lop Nor test site in China,

• Miscellaneous test explosions were carried out by India (3), Pakistan (2), and North Korea (2) (Mikhailov, 2001).

Other underground nuclear explosions were carried out underground at various test sites or on the surface, but with the purpose of applying the technology of nuclear explosions for peaceful solutions of a variety of tech­nical problems (Mikhailov, 2001; Logachev et al., 2001).

In the Soviet Union from 1961 to 1987, in accordance with Programme No 7 ‘Nuclear explosions for the national economy,’ 124 industrial com­plexes experienced an explosion, of which a number were carried out at the Semipalatinsk test site. Outside the territory of the present-day Russia, 80 explosions were carried out in the Republic of Kazakhstan (outside the polygon), 32 in the Ukraine, two in Uzbekistan, and two in Turkmenistan. The majority of the explosions were carried out in camouflet option, i. e. without a breakthrough cavern explosion into the atmosphere, and were aimed at solving problems: seismic sensing (39), creation of industrial con­tainers for food storage (26), working out the technology and scientific experiments (22), intensification of oil fields (21), eliminating emergency fountain (5), creating reservoirs (4), waste disposal in deep horizons (2), crushing ore (2), prevention of gas emission in coal seams (1), creating channels (1), and tailings dams (1) (Mikhailov, 2001; Israel, 1974).

Most of the explosions were carried out under difficult physical and geological conditions: in permafrost, semi-deserts, mountains, and salt for­mations in mining areas. Together with the explosion parameters and the monitoring information, these conditions determine the nature of residual geophysical phenomena, i. e. cleavage zones, zones of increased fracturing, changes in the permeability induced by electric and magnetic fields, thermal effects, and possible contamination with radioisotopes, which are precursors of volatile radioactive elements, increased release of radioactive radon gas, and changes in the environmental performance of the natural environment, etc.

This chapter describes the features and control areas of underground nuclear explosions and potential changes over long time periods, which allow evaluation of the state of the environment, i. e. the outward manifesta­tion of certain physical fields on the surface.

Section 27.2 describes the basic mechanisms of the boiler cavity, pillar collapses, and the cleavage phenomena on the surface, while also summariz­ing the classification and spatial distribution of radioactive waste. Section 27.3 examines the long-term problematic situations that arise at the surface, in aquifers and hydrocarbon horizons in the zone of underground nuclear explosions. There are cases that require regular monitoring. Section 27.4 is devoted to describing the results of thermal imagery and ground tempera­ture well logging in areas of underground nuclear explosions. A phenom­enological model of formation and dynamics of thermal anomalies is developed. Links are made between thermal anomalies, the level of gamma background radiation, and radon releases. In Section 27.5 we propose a method using monitoring by spacecraft to measure thermal anomalies. The prospects of applying this method for global monitoring of the effects of underground nuclear explosions are determined.

Добавить комментарий

Ваш e-mail не будет опубликован. Обязательные поля помечены *