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Underground Atomic Bomb Test

On November 29, 1951, the first underground atomic bomb testing occurred when the 1.2 kiloton Buster-Jangle Uncle was detonated 17 feet below ground level in Nevada. Underground detonations began as a way to reduce the cost and risk of testing atomic weapons. Before 1951, many atomic bombs were detonates on islands in the Pacific Ocean, but this was costly and still ran the risk of residual radioactive material contaminating the atmosphere.  By detonating atomic weapons underground, explosions may not introduce these radioactive materials into the atmosphere and tests were less costly because they could occur within the United States.  When the bomb Uncle was detonated, it created a cloud that was 11,500 feet high and a crater that was 260 feet wide by 53 feet deep. With underground atomic testing, the amount of radioactive material released depends on how deep the bomb is located. If the bomb explodes at a sufficient depth, then the test is contained. However, radioactive material can “seep” out of a contained radioactive chamber created by an explosion, so these tests must occur in isolated locations and be monitored for any changes in radiation levels. The Threshold Test Ban Treaty, signed in 1974 by the United States and Soviet Union, banned the underground detonation of bombs greater than 150 kilotons. While underground testing has not comprehensively banned, the International Monitoring System keep track of underground detonations throughout the word.

Items in Our Collection:

 Justice downwind : America's atomic testing program in the 1950's by Howard Ball

 Bombs in the backyard : atomic testing and American politics by A Costandina Titus

Atomic awakening : a new look at the history and future of nuclear power by James A Mahaffey