Nuclear bomb in the ground

What would happen if someone dropped a nuclear bomb into something like the Kola superdeep hole and detonated it? Would the explosion be strong enough to cause earthquakes?

The things an insomiac thinks about at 2:00 in the morning!

You could certainly detect the detonation using seismic waves, like you would an earthquake. That’s one tool currently used to enforce nuclear test ban treaties.

It’s not likely to actually cause an earthquake, though.

You might want to start with Wikipedia’s entry on actual underground nuclear testing for some general info. Regarding earthquakes in particular, it says:

Put a metal cap on there and you can blast it into Solar orbit.

The smallest extant nuclear warhead is too big to fit in the Kola borehole - it’s only nine inches across. The US W54 warhead would just about have fit but there are none left in US stockpiles (it’s one of those goofy 1950s weapons designed to be fired by soldiers from a sort of rocket launcher arrangement, before everyone realized man-portable nukes would kill everybody.)

How powerful? 1 kiloton? 30 megatons?

I saw a documentary on this topic called Broken Arrow. The detonation caused a large undulating earthquake behind John Travolta.

No nuclear bomb could *cause *an earthquake. The energy involved in even a modest earthquake is *thousands *of times that generated by even the largest nukes…

Sure, but an explosion could trigger an earthquake that was nearly ready to occur on it’s own…

Like that other documentary,* A View to a Kill.*

Linkee no workee…

If it’s 9 inches in diameter, both 8" (203mm) US nuclear projectiles (W33 and the W79 warheads) would have fit along with the 155mm nuclear projectile (W-48 warhead). Stockpiles no longer exist as you said but I’d guess the manufacturing specs are still around. The W33 was a gun type round while the W79 and W48s were implosion.

Try this one.

That metal cap blasted to escape velocity is a great story, but I don’t think its true. I think the cap was simply vaporized…

The cap was certainly moving at greater than escape speed, but it probably didn’t escape. Air resistance probably slowed and destroyed it.

The Davy Crockett launchers had ranges of 1.5-2.5 miles, with a lethal radius of about 1/4 mile. (it was a 20 TON warhead after all). Of course, it was possible to fire it at its minimum range, which was short enough to cook the gun crew, but at more realistic ranges, they’d have been fine.

Hardly kill everybody type stuff; the bigger question was what they’d actually be used for- the blast effects weren’t widespread enough to really affect advancing Soviet armor, and the radiation effects (by far the most lethal effect of a bomb that size) were still pretty ineffective against tanks (steel armor is pretty good against radiation) that weren’t almost underneath it when it went off.

The OP’s question was basically the whole plot of Armageddon.

This was before cruise missiles, so… dams, bridges, vehicle depots, bunkers…

Also the original Superman.

It’s sort of like the nuclear bomb in a hurricane question. Nuclear bombs are powerful, but their energy pales in comparison by several orders of magnitude to that of a storm or the energy required to move tectonic plates.

Well, nuclear bombs do shake the ground quite a bit. My Mom worked in a group at a national lab that used seismographs to monitor the U.S.S.R for nuclear tests.

Iirc we had a discussion about this when I was a kid and the general consensus was that if a big enough bomb was placed in the correct spot in a fault line it could trigger the fault. However, the placement mattered a lot. In other words, possible but highly unlikely.


Whose parents did some odd yet cool things.