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The Geek Atlas by John Graham-Cumming

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110

Nevada Test Site, NV

gkat_110.pdf37° 7 0 N, 116° 3 0 W

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1,021 Explosions

At the Trinity Test Site (Chapter 106), a single nuclear bomb was tested. At the Nevada Test Site, more than 1,000 nuclear explosions were set off between 1951 and 1992. The site consists of over 3,600 square kilometers of dry lake beds and mountains, about 100 kilometers northwest of Las Vegas. Once a month, the U.S. Department of Energy provides a free, day-long tour of the Nevada Test Site’s bomb craters, ground zeros, and test paraphernalia.

The tour covers around 400 kilometers of the nuclear explosion–pockmarked landscape: of the 1,021 nuclear explosions at the Nevada Test Site, only 126 occurred above ground; the rest were underground tests that left the site cratered. The largest crater of all, the Sedan Crater, is the highlight of the tour. It’s almost 400 meters wide and 100 meters deep; see Figure 110-1.

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Figure 110-1. The Sedan Crater; courtesy of the National Nuclear Security Administration/Nevada Site Office

Sedan was created as part of Operation Plowshare, an attempt to use nuclear weapons for peaceful purposes in mining, excavating, and building harbors. Plowshare was not successful, partly because ...

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