Multi-Use seismic stations offer strong deterrent to clandestine nuclear weapons testing



As the United States and other nations push for the signing of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, representatives are meeting in Geneva this year to develop an International Seismic Monitoring System to verify compliance with the treaty's restrictions. In addition to the official monitoring system, regional networks developed for earthquake studies and basic research can provide a strong deterrent against clandestine testing. The recent release of information by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) on previously unannounced nuclear tests provides an opportunity to assess the ability of multi-use seismic networks to help monitor nuclear testing across the globe.

Here we look at the extent to which the formerly unannounced tests were recorded and identified on the basis of publicly available seismographic data recorded by five seismic networks. The data were recorded by networks in southern Nevada and northern California at stations less than 1500 km from the Nevada Test Site (NTS), and two networks in the former Soviet Union at stations farther than 1500 km from the NTS.