65°F
weather icon Overcast

NNSS seismic tests could help detect nuclear blasts

The Nevada National Security Site is improving the nation’s capability to detect nuclear testing by ongoing monitoring of a recent Nevada earthquake.

Following the 6.5 magnitude earthquake that struck central Nevada on May 15, the NNSS deployed 48 seismic stations. The event, which struck the Monte Cristo Range, was the largest earthquake Nevada has experienced in 66 years.

In 2018, the NNSS received a new capability for the Dry Alluvium Geology experiment in the form of 500 portable seismic stations. These stations can be deployed in a short amount of time and can collect data up to 30 days.

NNSS senior principal scientist Cleat Zeiler, Ph.D., safely responded to the event after coordinating with the United States Geologic Survey and University of Nevada, Reno to optimally place sensors along the fault. With the help of facility personnel, Zeiler programmed and prepared 48 systems, weighing a total of 1,000 pounds, to deploy across the fault in central Nevada. As Zeiler was preparing a site for deployment, he felt a 3.0 magnitude aftershock and heard the sound of breaking rocks.

“That experience alone made my tired and aching body rejuvenate,” Zeiler said. “It put the whole collection in perspective. I would be collecting a one-of-a-kind data set.”

Within 24 hours of the main shock, he had all 48 stations operational. Normally, this level of effort would take several teams a couple of weeks to deploy, but the new capability provides a unique opportunity to respond quickly and effectively.

While most earthquake sequences wrap up in a month, this sequence was active for three months. Since the seismic stations only last 25 to 30 days, student interns Michelle Dunn and Ryan Jensen assisted Zeiler in swapping instrumentation and conducting seismic hazard assessments during the active period. Dunn is also using the data to determine the seismic hazard associated with the region.

The primary reason for the data collection from this earthquake is the shallow nature of the aftershocks. Most events are 8 to 10 kilometers deep; this sequence had events ranging from 1 to 20 kilometers deep. This information will allow the NNSS to understand how to determine if shallow aftershocks are explosions or earthquakes, as the depth of an aftershock is typically the best indicator.

With this set of data, the NNSS will be able to show the range of earthquake signatures and further the nation’s capability to detect nuclear testing.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Local Salvation Army hit by thieves

As Pahrump’s Salvation Army prepares to serve families in need during the holiday season, approximately $500 worth of new toys set aside for its annual Angel Tree program were recently stolen, along with Christmas decorations and items being stored for the Kiwanis Club and Pahrump’s Sleep In Heavenly Peace organization.

Pahrump community comes together for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for appreciation and for hundreds of Pahrump area residents and visitors, there was plenty to be grateful for this year at the Pahrump Holiday Task Force’s annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

Pahrump Valley Academy virtual town hall set for Saturday

Throughout much of 2019 and into 2020, a group of local residents hoping to add a new educational option to the valley worked diligently toward establishing Pahrump Valley Academy, which would have been the valley’s very first public charter school, only to have the proposal nixed in early 2020.

Rotary Club encouraging students to read

The Pahrump Rotary Club has performed countless community service projects since its inception in 1987.

Bowling for Our Wounded Warriors – Fundraiser set for Dec. 5

Donning a U.S. armed forces uniform is something that comes with great risk and the men and women who step up to take on the challenge of protecting America through military service often come home with injuries, both the visible and the invisible kind.

Man calls 911 while speaking to deputies, report says

Nye County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested a man who allegedly called 911 for a complaint about loud music at a residence along South Chippewa Street last week but ended up getting arrested himself.

Development of Pahrump’s Kellogg Park tracking right along

Development of Pahrump’s newest park, Kellogg Park on the southern end of the valley, continues to move along steadily, with a variety of milestones reached in recent months and officials with the town of Pahrump and Nye County now setting their sights on the next steps of the development process.

PLAC to decide on Rough Hat recommendations; meeting Nov. 30 in Pahrump

Throughout its many years, the Pahrump Public Lands Advisory Committee hasn’t seen a whole lot of community involvement, with the group historically hosting its monthly meetings amid almost empty audiences.

Together With Veterans hosting SWOT assessment meeting in Pahrump

The men and women who have served in the United States military have given of themselves, made sacrifices on a daily basis and put the safety of others before themselves in order to protect America but when service comes to an end and they return to civilian life, the transition can be jarring.

Beatty Advisory Board deals with trails, racing, blue light

There will be no informal election to choose appointees to the Beatty Town Advisory Board. Randy Reed and Erika Gerling, whose terms expire at the end of the year, were the only people to submit letters of interest, so the Board voted, at their Nov. 22 meeting, to forward their names to the Board of County Commissioners for reappointment.