What is the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)?

On September 10, 1996, the United Nations General Assembly voted 158-3 to approve a treaty prohibiting all nuclear tests. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has been signed by 130 nations - including the United States. President Clinton signed the agreement on September 24, 1996.

 

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What is the role of seismology in monitoring the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty?

Seismology is one of several fields which plays a role in monitoring the CTBT. Underground nuclear explosions produce seismic waves with unique characteristics which allow the discrimination between explosions and earthquakes. Learn more: UC Berkeley

What are the differences between explosions and earthquakes?

Both earthquakes and nuclear tests can rapidly release a large amount of energy. The energy source for small yield (typically less than 50 kilotons) thermonuclear devices is the splitting of heavy radioactive isotopes. This process produces about 20 million times the energy of each reacting atom in a chemical explosive. The energy source for an...

Can we use a lot of explosives to cause small earthquakes in order to prevent having large ones?

No. Even huge amounts of explosive almost never cause even small earthquakes, and it would take hundreds and thousands of small earthquakes to equal a large one, even if it could be done. In addition, we wouldn't have any control over the size of the earthquake being created if it worked, since small and large earthquakes all start out in exactly...

Can nuclear explosions cause earthquakes?

On January 19, 1968, a thermonuclear test, codenamed Faultless , took place in the Central Nevada Supplemental Test Area. The codename turned out to be a poor choice of words because a fresh fault rupture some 1200 meters long was produced. Seismographic records showed that the seismic waves produced by the fault movement were much less energetic...
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Date published: September 8, 2016

Possible Explosion of Magnitude 5.3 in North Korea

A possible explosion of magnitude 5.3 occurred in North Korea on September 9, 2016 at 00:30:01 UTC (9:00 am local time).

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Image: Seismographs at the U.S. Geological Survey
October 17, 1989

Seismographs at the U.S. Geological Survey

Seismographs at the U.S. Geological Survey record (1) north-south horizontal, (2) east-west horizontal, and (3) vertical components of the earthquake.

Global Seismographic Network illustration

Global Seismographic Network

Global Seismographic Network

Attribution: Natural Hazards