ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside January 2007

Seismic Sentries

Why underground nuclear tests are so hard to hide

On October 9, 2006, seismometers around the world picked up a magnitude 4.2 event located in northeastern North Korea. Considering that an average of 20 earthquakes that size or larger occur every day, seismologists might not have immediately singled out this incident had not North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, promised an underground nuclear test.

Although seismometers could not conclusively confirm the nature or size of the explosion, they did indicate that the bomb was more fizzle than blast. Perhaps more important, they showed that as long as the geology of the region is well known, local sensors can accurately distinguish even small detonations from earthquakes.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content


It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com.
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Give a Gift &
Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now! >

X

Email this Article

X