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Fault Displacement as a Result of Underground Nuclear Explosions

D. D. Dickey
D. D. Dickey
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January 01, 1968

At the Atomic Energy Commission’s Nevada Test Site, displacement has occurred along several faults as a consequence of underground nuclear explosions.

Three possible explanations for fault displacements caused by underground explosions are proposed: (1) The explosion-produced stress added to the existing stress field is sufficient to exceed the force of static friction along the fault plane; (2) The vibrations produced by the explosion may reduce friction along the fault, thereby reducing the amount of stress required to cause displacement, and the existing stress field causes the displacement; or (3) The combination of mechanisms 1 and 2 causes displacement.

Comparison of seismic energy release from several explosions, some of which triggered displacement along the Yucca fault, indicate that the seismic energy released by fault displacement was greater than that of the triggering explosion in two instances.

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GSA Memoirs

Nevada Test Site

Edwin B. Eckel
Edwin B. Eckel
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Geological Society of America
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Publication date:
January 01, 1968




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