Ko Yun-hwa (L), Administrator of Korea Meteorological Administration, points at where seismic waves observed in South Korea came from, during a media briefing at Korea Meteorological Administration in Seoul, South Korea, January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
Defense One: How to Tell The Difference Between a Nuclear Bomb Test and an Earthquake
The preliminary data suggests that the event in North Korea was not, in fact, the end of the world
Shortly after North Korea claimed it had tested a hydrogen bomb — a weapon potentially hundreds of times more powerful than the fission bombs the country had already set off — seismologists at the United States Geological Survey, or USGS, went to work trying to understand the event. Their early findings suggest that a nuclear bomb test did occur but that it wasn’t a hydrogen bomb. So how do you tell the difference?
First, you try to rule out the possibility that North Korea was just trying to claim credit for an earthquake. Geologists and seismologists look at several factors to determine whether a seismic event is natural or manmade. One is the location: is it on a known fault line, a place where there’s a lot of mining activity, etc.? Another factor is the seismological waveform itself, the waving lines that appear on the seismograph. An explosion forms wiggles that are different from the ones generated by an earthquake, according to USGS seismologist Paul Earle.
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CSN Editor: Yup .... the science that is used in telling the difference between an earthquake and a nuclear test is very detailed and exact.