Abstract

Subterranean energy releases such as explosions and earthquakes may disturb the Earth‐atmosphere interface, creating acoustic waves that can travel great distances. These waves provide a record of the ground motion directly above the event. The information they encode may provide critical insight into the depth and size of underground explosions, the sequence of events immediately before volcanic eruptions, and the magnitude of strong motion resulting from earthquakes. However, the effect of event size and burial depth on the resulting acoustic wave has not been explored in detail. Here, the relationship between acoustic amplitude, frequency, and energy is investigated for a series of well‐characterized underground chemical explosions in granite. Acoustic amplitude was found to vary linearly with explosive yield divided by emplacement depth. Peak acoustic frequency appears to be a function of explosive yield alone. The ratio of radiated acoustic energy to source energy had a relatively poor fit to yield, depth, and combinations thereof. These relationships suggest that acoustic analysis can be used to determine the size and depth of a buried explosion. The results presented here have particular relevance to the nuclear monitoring community, because depth is difficult to determine with seismic methods.

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