Accession Number:



A Review of Modern Seismic Yield Estimation Techniques and Their Uncertainties

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Technical Report,30 Sep 2019,31 May 2020

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Applied Research Associates, Inc. Lexington United States

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The data-processing techniques seismologists use to estimate yield have radically improved over the last couple of decades, as has our understanding of seismic energy propagation, which has led to better modeling of source and path effects. Yield estimation has been steadily progressing with techniques that were able to successful discriminate nuclear and chemical explosions from natural seismicity. The seismic monitoring communitys grasp on yield estimation changed after The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea DPRK tested an underground nuclear weapon in 2006 and traditional discrimination methods failed to identify the event. Since 2006, there have been 5 more DRPK nuclear tests, and all 6 of the events have increased uncertainty in modern yield estimation and discrimination techniques as even the most modern estimation methods generate a wide range of yields varying by more than two hundred kilotons in some cases. This report outlines and describe modern yield techniques as they have evolved from the 1988 Office of Technology Assessment while highlighting how certain techniques have improved DPRK yield estimation as well as a specific focus on the causes of these discrepancies in DPRK yield estimates.

Subject Categories:

  • Seismic Detection and Detectors
  • Nuclear Weapons

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