Earlier today, a team led by NNSA conducted a subsurface chemical explosion at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) to improve the United States’ ability to detect low-yield nuclear explosions around the world.

A photo showing the inside of a tunnel. Steel tracks lead into the distance.
P tunnel in Area 12 of the Nevada National Security Site.

“These experiments advance our efforts to develop new technology in support of U.S. nuclear nonproliferation goals,” said Corey Hinderstein, NNSA’s Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. “They will help reduce global nuclear threats by improving the detection of underground nuclear explosive tests.”

This experiment, which was conducted in the P tunnel in Area 12 of the NNSS, used chemical high-explosives and radiotracers.

NNSA teams worked with researchers from the NNSS, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, the University of Nevada at Reno, the University of Arizona, the University of Texas at Austin, the Special Operations and Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Engineer Research and Development Center of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to achieve safe and successful results.

The experiment will help validate new predictive explosion models and detection algorithms. Measurements were collected using accelerometers, seismometers, infrasound sensors, electromagnetic sensors, chemical and radiotracer samplers, and meteorological sensors.

Seismic data collected from these experiments are made available to researchers around the globe for analysis via the EarthScope Consortium website at https://www.earthscope.org/