The Coastal Post - November 1999

Da Quakes

By Karen Nakamura

Those who have followed my series on the connection between earthquakes and nuclear tests certainly had your ears prick up with the recent huge 7.0 quakes around the world. Of course, I had to check things out. So far, my digging has found contradictions.

First, while there are no more nuclear underground tests, there is something called sub-critical testing. What that means in simple terms is that the Department of Energy is conducting tests to simulate nuclear tests. Rather than using nuclear fusion to set off the explosion, the DOE uses a more common substance such as TNT, dynamite or the like to set off a bomb as large as a nuclear test but without the nuclear component.

These tests have been conducted on a fairly regular basis for the past several months and have cutesy names such as the Jolly Roger series. The Nevada Test Site, scene of so many protest rallies and dead earth, is still being used for the tests. Now, however, they seem to be expanding their mission. Besides testing the reliability and safety of the nuclear weapons stockpile without using nuclear underground testing, they has been diverting to hazardous chemical spill testing, emergency response training, conventional weapons testing and waste management and environmental technology studies. You can think about just what that might mean. In the meantime, I'm still digging so we'll only use the most rudimentary information.


second of three in Lafitte Military Munitions Tests tested 24 155mm artillery shells

Jolly Roger (Black Beard) MM Test; again, 24 155mm artillery shells

seventh overall sub-critical test

subcritical test

Recent large earthquakes

7.4 Turkey

5.0 Bolinas

6.7 Costa Rica

5.8 Greece

7.6 Taiwan

7.5 Oaxaca, Mexico

7.1 Joshua Tree, Ca.

Well, well, well. It's not 100 percent, but if we use the formerly-established criterion of most tests/quakes occurring within 24-48 hours after the test, some quake periods being extended out to five days after and occasionally out to 10 days after test, our figures are mixed. Not enough material there to confirm but too much material to dismiss.

There's still the 8-11 test and Turkey/Bolinas, the 9-30 seventh test and Oaxaca, Mexico, and the 10-15 test and Joshua Tree. More as I dig.

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