In the early 50s, American scientistsproposed the idea of using nuclear explosion energy for so-called peaceful purposes. It was assumed that the explosions of atomic bombs of various capacities can be used to solve a variety of production problems. The idea was that with the help of an explosion it is possible to extract huge masses of earth and rocks very quickly and economically, facilitating these tasks, for example, when creating water channels or mining pits. In 1957, the U.S. government launched the so-called Plower Operation, during which, until 1973, 27 nuclear explosions were carried out. During one of them, the largest “dry” funnel was created, which, unlike the famous Chagan crater, which became a lake, has remained in its original form to the present day.
The sedan crater project was carried out duringsecond nuclear explosion as part of Operation Plausher. Scientists wanted to create a huge crater by testing the possibility of using a peaceful atom for mining. Like all other tests under Operation Plausher, this project was carried out at a nuclear test site located in Nevada. By the way, from 1951 to 1992 in this place a total of about a thousand atomic bombs were detonated.
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Today, the landfill site resembles the Moon, which is also dotted with craters of different sizes from fallen asteroids. Nuclear weapons tests are no longer conducted here.
Satellite image of part of a nuclear test site in Nevada
How the largest nuclear crater in the USA was created
To prepare the explosion, engineers created a wellwith a depth of almost 200 meters and dropped into it a nuclear explosive device weighing 212 kilograms and a capacity of 104 kilotons. The blast was carried out on June 6, 1962. The power of the explosion was such that at first a huge dome of sand, stones and earth rose to a height of 90 meters above the surface, which exploded in three seconds, scattering over 11 million tons of soil for many kilometers.
At the site of the explosion, a crater appeared with a diameter of 390 meters and a depth of 100 meters. Today, it is considered the largest crater in the United States created by a nuclear explosion.
Measurement of radiation levels one hour after the explosionshowed a dose of 500 x-rays, which is fatal to humans. Gradually, the level of radiation decreased and after 7 months it became completely safe for humans. At the same time, it was such that it was possible to be near the crater without any protective clothing.
Consequences of a nuclear explosion
The worst thing was that aftera huge cloud of dust containing various radioactive particles was raised into the air. Then it split in two. The resulting radioactive clouds rose to a height of 3 and 4.9 kilometers each. Accelerated by the wind, they headed to the north-east of the country, reaching the Atlantic Ocean. As they progressed, the clouds “showered” with radioactive fallout. In total, according to unofficial data, more than 13 million people living in the states of Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, South Dakota ended up in the radioactive particle sedimentation zone.
According to official figures, among allnuclear tests, the Sedan project was the most dangerous in terms of the amount of radioactive fallout. In particular, it was for this reason, Operation Plausher, was closed in 1973. Strong pressure was also exerted by the American public, concerned about the health effects resulting from such trials.
Is Sedan Crater dangerous today?
Currently at the test site inNevada, where the Sedan Crater is located, conducts group tourist excursions that are in great demand. Over 10,000 people visit this place annually. There is an observation deck near the crater, allowing you to see the local attraction in all details.
Visiting rules are strict. It is forbidden to bring photo and video equipment, binoculars, telephones and other equipment. It is not allowed to take any souvenirs from the landfill zone. Even a raised stone from the ground can cause the tourist to deploy to the exit. The zone is strictly guarded by the military and this place is closed from free access.
In the late 60s in the USSR similarpeaceful atom experiments. They lasted much longer than in the United States, until the end of the 80s. The Soviet government did not stop the bad experience of the Americans with the Sedan crater in 1962. Therefore, a year later, the Chagan Atomic Lake appeared on the territory of Kazakhstan. But this is a completely different story, which can be read in our previous article.
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