Yield Estimation Using Shock Wave Methods

  1. Steven R. Taylor,
  2. Howard J. Patton and
  3. Paul G. Richards
  1. Frederick K. Lamb,
  2. Bruce W. Callen and
  3. Jeremiah D. Sullivan

Published Online: 18 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM065p0073

Explosion Source Phenomenology

Explosion Source Phenomenology

How to Cite

Lamb, F. K., Callen, B. W. and Sullivan, J. D. (1991) Yield Estimation Using Shock Wave Methods, in Explosion Source Phenomenology (eds S. R. Taylor, H. J. Patton and P. G. Richards), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM065p0073

Author Information

  1. Department of Physics and Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1991

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900315

Online ISBN: 9781118663820



  • Underground nuclear explosions—Detection—Congresses;
  • Seismology—Congresses


The yields of underground nuclear explosions can be estimated using shock wave methods. These methods make use of the fact that the strength of the expanding shock wave produced by an underground explosion increases with the yield. We first discuss the basis of shock wave yield estimation methods, including the properties of shock waves in rock, the evolution of the shock waves produced by underground nuclear explosions, and the dependence of the evolution on the properties of the ambient medium. We then describe several techniques that have been developed in the United States to measure the shock front position as a function of time, including the so-called CORRTEX technique. Finally, we consider several of the algorithms that have been used to derive yield estimates from measurements of the shock front position as a function of time, the application of these algorithms to low-yield explosions, and the expected accuracy of shock wave methods.