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Livermore Lab Scientists Develop New Technique to Detect Secret Underground Nuclear Test Sites

Nuclear explosionScientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have developed a technique that could potentially help international inspectors find secret sites used for underground nuclear tests within a search area of 1,000 square kilometers.

LLNL researchers and scientists from National Security Technologies used computer models and a sampler tool to simulate gas signatures that leak from underground nuclear explosion sites, LLNL said March 16.

“The work is novel in part because of how we did it by injecting gases into an old UNE cavity and then using computer models informed by the experiment to extend our understanding of how xenon gas evolves following the UNE,” said Charles Carrigan, a geoscientist at LLNL.

“The 2013 underground nuclear explosion carried out in North Korea has allowed us some validation of our model of explosion-gas evolution.”

Carrigan is the lead author of the research paper that appeared in the  Nature-Scientific Reports journal that discussed the results of the project, while LLNL physicist Yunwei Sun developed the computer models used in the study.

LLNL engineers Steven Hunter and David Ruddle built the Smart Sampler device that works to detect gases that seep out from the explosion cavity into the surface.

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