3. How does a modern nuclear demolition work?


Richard Moore

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Many pictures and diagrams in original.

Part 3. How does a modern nuclear demolition work?
First of all, such a modern nuclear demolition has nothing to do with the former atomic demolition using SADM or MADM as described above. It is an entirely new concept. During modern nuclear demolition process, a demolition charge does not produce any atmospheric nuclear explosion – with its trade-mark atomic mushroom cloud, a thermal radiation and an air-blast wave. It explodes quite deep underground – much in the same sense as any nuclear charge explodes during a typical nuclear test. So, it does produce neither any air-blast wave, nor any thermal radiation, nor any penetrating radiation, nor any electro-magnetic pulse. It could cause only relatively minor harm to surroundings by an ensuing radioactive contamination, which, nonetheless, considered being a negligible factor by designers of such demolition schemes.
What is a basic difference between an atmospheric and an underground nuclear explosion? The basic difference is this. During an initial stage of a nuclear (as well as a thermo-nuclear) explosion, its entire explosive energy is being released in a form of a so-called “primary radiation” that in its main part (almost 99%) falls within X-rays spectrum (and remaining part is represented by gamma-rays spectrum that causes radiation injuries and visible spectrum that produces visible flash). So, this almost entire explosive energy represented by X-rays would be spent on heating of surrounding air at tens of meters around a hypocenter of such an explosion. It happens because X-rays can not travel too far, being consumed by surrounding air. Heating of this relatively small area around the nuclear explosion hypocenter would result in appearance of so-called “nuclear fireballs” that physically is nothing else than an extremely overheated air. These nuclear fireballs are responsible for the two main destructive factors of an atmospheric nuclear explosion – its thermal radiation and its air-blast wave, since both factors result exclusively from high temperatures of the air around a nuclear explosion. When it comes to an underground nuclear explosion, the picture is entirely different. There is no air around a small “zero-box” a nuclear charge is placed into, so an entire amount of energy instantly released by a nuclear explosion in a form of X-rays would be spent on heating of surrounding rock, instead. It would result in overheating, melting and evaporating of this rock. Disappearance of the evaporated rock would result in creation of an underground cavity, size of which directly depends on explosive yield of nuclear munitions used. You can have an idea on how much rock could disappear during an underground nuclear explosion from the below table – where quantities of evaporated and melted materials of various kinds (in metric tons) are shown on “per kiloton of yield” basis:
Just as an example: detonation of a 150 kiloton thermo-nuclear charge buried sufficiently deep in granite rock would result in creation of a cavity measuring roughly 100 meters in diameter – such as the one shown in this picture:
All skyscrapers have their lowest foundations lying 20-30 meters beneath the Earth surface. So, it is possible to calculate a position of a “zero-box” under such a skyscraper in such a way that a nuclear explosion would produce a cavity upper end of which would not reach the Earth surface, but would reach only the lowest underground foundation of a skyscraper it intends to demolish.
For example, in particular cases of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, their lowest underground foundations were 27 meters beneath the surface. While the 150 kiloton thermo-nuclear demolition charges were positioned as depths of 77 meters (measuring from the surface), or 50 meters below their underground foundations. Such a thermo-nuclear explosion at a depth of 77 m would create an extremely overheated cavity with its upper sphere touching the lowest underground foundations of the Twin Tower it intends to demolish. But it would still be short of reaching the Earth surface by 27 meters – so surrounding structures would not to be affected by any destructive factors of this underground nuclear explosion (except by, possibly, only its radioactive contamination). The Tower that is to be demolished supposes to lose its foundations completely, and to be sucked-in into this overheated cavity, temperatures inside of which are deemed enough to melt the entire Tower. Nuclear demolition schemes of the WTC building # 7 and that of the Sears Tower in Chicago were calculated in the same way.
However, there is one more factor that is to be taken into consideration during calculation of nuclear demolition projects of skyscrapers. This is about the actual evaporated granite rock inside the cavity. Where all that former granite rock now in gaseous state supposes to go from the cavity? In fact, a picture of the physical events after an underground nuclear explosion is quite interesting. Let’s consider it.
This pictorial rendition schematically represents all important physical processes during an ideally deep (means occurred sufficiently far from the Earth surface) underground nuclear explosion. So, now it should become clear that an extreme pressure of the evaporated rock inside the cavity makes at least two important jobs: 1) it expands the actual cavity from its “primary” size to its “secondary” size; and 2) because it does this expansion at the expense of the neighboring areas of the rock, it produces two damaged zones around itself, each representing a different degree of damage. A zone immediately adjacent to the cavity in nuclear jargon is called a “crashed zone”. This zone could be as thick as a diameter of the cavity itself and it is filled with a very strange matter. Its filling is rock that is completely pulverized. It is reduced into a fine microscopic dust, an approximate particle of which is about 100 micron in size. Moreover, this particular state of material within this “crashed zone” is a very strange state – except after an underground nuclear tests it does not occurs anywhere else in nature. If you pick up a stone from this zone, but do so very gently, it might still stick together and still resemble a stone by its form and its color. However, it you only slightly press this “stone” with your fingers it will immediately crash into that complete microscopic dust it actually consists of. A second zone – next to the “crashed zone” is called a “damaged zone” in professional nuclear jargon. This “damaged zone” is filled with rock crashed to various pieces – from very small (millimeters in size), to some relatively big fragments. As closer to a border of the “crashed zone”, as smaller will be such debris, and as farther from hypocenter – as larger will be such debris. Finally, outside of the “damaged zone” border, there would be virtually no damage inflicted to surrounding rock. 
However, we have considered above the physical processes which are true to an “ideally deep” underground nuclear blast. When a nuclear charge is buried not sufficiently deep, a picture will be slightly different. “Damaged” and “crashed” zones will not be exactly round in the latter case. They would be rather elliptic – with their longer ends directed upwards – comparable with an egg facing upwards with its sharper end, or possibly even more ellipsoidal and sharper upwards than a typical egg. It happens because the pressure of the evaporated gases would encounter the least resistance towards the Earth surface (since it is too near), so either “crashed zone” or “damaged zone” would extend upwards farther than to any other direction. But when propagating upwards upper boundaries of the “damaged zone” and “crashed zone” encounter underground foundations of the Tower which is to be demolished, the picture would be even more different. It is because materials the Tower is built of differ from surrounding granite rock in a sense of resistance of materials. Besides, there is a lot of empty space inside the Tower, while the remaining granite rock towards the rest of directions (to either sides and downwards) is solid. So, expansion of the upper boundaries of “damaged” and “crashed” zones by the Tower’s structure will be the farthest. In case of the WTC Twin Towers or the Sears Tower the “damaged zone” could likely reach up to 350-370 meters, while “crashed zone” that follows immediately, would likely reach up to 290-310 meters. But in case of the much shorter WTC-7 its entire length will be within the “crashed zone” – so it would be pulverized completely. This ability of nuclear demolition to pulverize steel and concrete alike is one of its unique features.
The picture below shows an example of that fine microscopic dust that covered all over Manhattan after the WTC demolition. Many people mistakenly believed that it was allegedly “concrete dust”. No, it was not. It was “complete” dust – mainly pulverized steel. Despite common misconception, the WTC structures did not contain much concrete. Concrete was used only in some limited quantities to make very thin floors slabs in the Twin Towers construction. It was not used anywhere else. The major part of the WTC Twin Towers was steel, not concrete. So this finest dust was in its major part represented by steel dust accordingly. Though, it was not only “steel dust” alone – it was also a “furniture dust”, “wood dust”, “paper dust”, “carpet dust”, “computer parts dust” and even “human dust”, since remaining in the Towers human beings were pulverized in the same manner as steel, concrete and furniture.
Some people might wonder – why the WTC-7 collapsed to its footprint very neatly, in its entirety, while either of the Twin Towers crashed down scattering not only dust, but even some debris to quite large distances. This question is very easy to answer – you have to look at the distribution of “crashed” and “damaged” zones along the Twin Towers structures and the answer will become obvious.
The picture below represents an approximate distribution of damages in case of a nuclear demolition of a skyscraper using a 150 kiloton thermo-nuclear charge positioned 50 meters deeper than the lowest underground foundations of a skyscraper. Don’t forget, that demolition charges in this particular case were buried not “ideally deep”, that is why forms of the “crashed” and “damaged” zones were not “ideally round” either – they were elliptic, with their sharper ends facing upwards – towards areas of the least resistance.
This particular distribution of damages along the skyscrapers structures inflicted by such a process could be better understood when you watch videos showing details of collapses of the WTC Twin Towers and the WTC-7. You can click the “Videos” button at the top panel of this page to watch these videos.
It should be added also that despite an apparent insufficiency of 150 kiloton thermo-nuclear charges to pulverize the tallest skyscrapers in their entirety, charges of higher yields could not be used in nuclear demolition industry due to merely legal reasons. The problem is that in accordance with the USA – Soviet so-called ” Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty of 1976″ yield of nuclear munitions used for non-military purposes was limited to 150 kiloton /per individual nuclear explosion and to maximum of 1.5 megaton aggregate yield for group explosions. So, the nuclear demolition industry has to fit into these legal frames: in case of the WTC demolition it was possible to use as many charges as necessary, but not in excess of 150 kiloton per charge. That is why the WTC nuclear demolition scheme consisted of three of such charges – with aggregate yield of 450 kiloton. For those people who have difficulty to imagine how powerful 150 kiloton is, it could be reminded that an atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 was less than 20 kiloton.
As it was mentioned in the beginning, this article does not describe any nuclear demolition scheme of a particular building in any exact detail, but does it rather on a conceptual level. But there is another article that describes a nuclear demolition scheme of the World Trade Center in New York in particular. It is available here: http://www.wtcnucleardemolition.com
The author of this article – Mr. Dimitri A. Khalezov, a former officer the Soviet nuclear intelligence, officially known as the Special Control Service of the 12th Chief Directorate of the Defense Ministry.
Any comments and suggestions are welcome.

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