Abstract

Data on underground nuclear explosions have recently become available from modern digital seismic stations installed within the Soviet Union and China. Observations of root mean square (rms) Lg-wave signals for Soviet underground nuclear explosions at the Shagan River Test Site in East Kazakhstan show that the relative amplitudes of the rms signals at stations in Norway, the USSR, and China are very similar for different explosions, the standard deviation of the differences being only about 0.03 in logarithmic units (i.e., magnitude units).

This is consistent with earlier observations comparing NORSAR and Graefenberg array data, and the observed scatter is significantly lower than has been reported for Lg data from Nevada Test Site explosions. In view of the excellent correspondence found by Nuttli (1986) and Patton (1988) for Lg versus yield at Nevada, this indicates that rms Lg has a potential for yield estimation with very high accuracy at Shagan River.

Our study has shown that: (a) selected stations in the USSR and China, situated at regional distances, provide a much improved signal-to-noise ratio of the Lg phase for events at Shagan River, as compared to NORSAR array data; (b) the scaling of rms Lg amplitudes between different-sized events recorded at the same single station site appears to be consistent with that of NORSAR, indicating a remarkable degree of precision in single station measurements of Lg signal; (c) rms Lg amplitude measurements for the best of these stations may be made at 1.5 to 2.0 magnitude units lower than at NORSAR or Graefenberg, allowing a much lower threshold for Lg-based yield determination; and (d) the P-wave detection capabilities of these single stations do not match those of the NORESS and ARCESS arrays; thus, teleseismic signals continue to be important for detection of small nuclear explosions.

Our conclusion is that Lg signals appear to provide an excellent basis for supplying estimates of the yields of nuclear explosions even down to below 1 kt when such signals are recorded at high-quality, digital in-country seismic stations, and when calibrated by access to independent (nonseismic) yield information for a few nuclear explosions at the test sites of interest. In the context of monitoring a low-yield threshold test ban treaty, it will, in addition, be important to take into consideration various environmental conditions in the testing area, such as the possible presence of cavities, and to devise appropriate procedures for on-site observations in this regard.

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