Negev Explosion to Calibrate Nuclear Monitoring System

Sound waves from blast could be picked up in Europe.

The Geophysical Institute of Israel is to carry out a controlled explosion this morning of 102 tons of explosive material in order to calibrate the instruments of seismic stations that monitor nuclear testing throughout the world.

The explosion, to be set off at the Sayarim base, is being conducted in cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces.

Sound waves from the blast will be carried by wind for thousands of kilometers and picked up by research stations in Europe that are part of the International Monitoring System created after the 1996 adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. These stations provide data about any nuclear testing that has gone unreported to the United Nations and to the international community. The data are broadcast instantaneously, by satellite, to the international data center in Vienna for processing and analyses.

The test explosions play an important role in maintaining the accurate calibration of the monitoring instruments.

There are a number of different types of monitoring stations that receive different types of signals; today's test is intended for acoustic stations, which receive sound waves. Similar explosions have been conducted underground in the past to aid in the calibration of the seismic monitoring stations.

According to Dr. Yefim Gitterman, a researcher at the institute's seismological division, the explosion is not expected to be audible in residential areas.

The director of the institute, Dr. Uri Frieslander, noted that sound waves from a similar explosion in the Negev, in August 2009, reached France. Referring to today's, Frieslander said, "It all depends on the wind patterns, but the explosion will presumably be detected in southern Europe."