Webinars - Detail

Methods of Seismic Monitoring for Underground Nuclear Explosions: Past, Present, and (Maybe) Future
Dr. Paul Richards, Columbia University


Explosion monitoring is an important application of seismology, whether used to learn about the weapons development of a potential adversary, or whether to support an initiative in nuclear arms control.

There have been more than 2000 nuclear tests, most of them conducted underground. The acquisition and interpretation of their signals has been a driving force in the development of modern seismology.

In this webinar I plan to review briefly the period 1957-1963 when seismology was thrust suddenly on to center stage and was found wanting; the five decades up to the present day when capabilities hugely improved; and the future improvements that might be achievable in the next ten years. Along the way we have learned to do a better job of monitoring all seismic activity and its underlying causes, whether from earthquakes or explosions, or from more exotic sources such as mine collapses and meteorites.


Last updated Key Points
  • Explosion monitoring helps decipher earthquake sources and their mechanisms
  • The aquisition and interpretation of seismic signals after nuclear explosions help to drive modern seismology