The influence of induced tectonic stress release on the short-period teleseismic P-wave signature of underground nuclear explosions is studied. Primary attention is directed to the first few cycles of the record from which body-wave magnitude (mb) is determined. Computational models for both the explosion and the superimposed tectonic release double couple are employed and theoretical seismograms are computed. Interest is mainly in the largest tectonic release component that seems reasonable using surface-wave observations and independent estimates of the controlling parameters as constraints. It is concluded that for most, perhaps all, events, tectonic release has no appreciable effect on the amplitude of the short-period P waves. Even the frequency content of the early arriving P wave is little affected by tectonic release for most likely circumstances.
The computations assume tectonic release due to stress relaxation around the fracture zone created by the explosion. However, the results are extended to apply to the alternate mechanism whereby stress is released along a pre-existing fault plane. Since a number of other mechanisms can cause superposition of a double couple on the explosion, the analysis is relevant to the general question of the size these secondary sources must attain before the short-period P-wave recording is significantly altered.