National Nuclear Security Administration

NNSA Continues Source Physics Experiment Series in Nevada

December 19, 2018

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Multiphase campaign uses buried explosives to generate seismic and acoustic signatures similar to those emitted by an underground nuclear detonation

WASHINGTON – The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) today completed the second underground, chemical explosion in the second phase of the Source Physics Experiment (SPE), which is designed to advance the United States’ ability to detect underground nuclear explosions.

The SPE is a multiphase campaign using buried explosives to generate seismic and acoustic signatures similar to those emitted by an underground nuclear detonation. 

“The SPE trials strengthen our nuclear security and continue to provide important data to improve our ability to monitor potential explosions across the globe,” said Dr. Brent K. Park, NNSA’s Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation.

Research teams from the Nevada National Security Site, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the University of Nevada-Reno collected data about the unique signatures generated by this experiment using high-resolution accelerometers, seismometers, infrasound sensors, and high-speed video.

A total of four experiments are planned as part of this phase.  Seismic data collected from the SPE experiments are made available to researchers around the globe for analysis via the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology website at http://www.iris.edu/hq/.