The apparent explosion moment: Inferences of volumetric moment due to source medium damage by underground nuclear explosions



[1] Classical explosion source theory relates isotropic seismic moment to the steady state level of the reduced displacement potential. The theoretical isotropic moment for an incompressible source region Mt is proportional to cavity volume Vc created by pressurization of materials around the point of energy release. Source medium damage due to nonlinear deformations caused by the explosion will also induce volume change Vd and radiate seismic waves as volumetric, double-couple, and compensated linear vector dipole (CLVD) body force systems. A new source model is presented where K is a relative measure of moment MCLVD with respect to the net moment from volumetric sources Vc and Vd. K values from moment tensor inversions steadily decrease from ∼2.5 at lower yields to ∼1.0 for the highest-yield shots on Pahute Mesa. A value of 1.0 implies MCLVD = 0 and, by inference, small Vd. We hypothesize that the extent to which damage adds (or subtracts) volumetric moment is controlled by material properties and dynamics of stress wave rebound, shock wave interactions with the free surface, gravitational unloading, and slapdown of spalled near-surface layers. This hypothesis is tested by comparing measurements of isotropic moment equation imageI with estimates of Mt based on Vc scaling relationships and velocity-density models. The results support the hypothesis and the conclusion that equation imageI represents the “apparent explosion moment” since it has contributions from direct effects due to cavity formation and indirect effects due to material damage. Implications for yield estimation using equation imageI are discussed in general and for the North Korean tests.