Why didn’t any of the deep ocean nuclear tests of the 50’s and 60’s cause catastrophic tsunamis? We’re talking about millions of tons of water being vaporized into steam in an instant, then water collapsing to fill the void.

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Mudassir Ali 8 months 2 Answers 123 views

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  1. Because nuclear bombs don’t move much water compared to earthquakes.

    An excellent references to underwater nuclear detonations is found here: Underwater and Underground Bursts

    The underwater “Baker” test of July 1946 did generate waves up to 94 feet high, but that was only at the immediate detonation site. When they spread out across the lagoon, the waves necessarily dropped in height because their energy was spread over a larger area.

  2. 2.70 The disturbance created by the underwater burst caused a series of waves to move outward from the center of the explosion across the surface of Bikini lagoon. At 11 seconds after the detonation, the first wave had a maximum height of 94 feet and was about 1,000 feet from surface zero. This moved outward at high speed and was followed by a series of other waves. At 22,000 feet from surface zero, the ninth wave in the series was the highest with a height of 6 feet.

    Later work found that explosions differ significantly from how they transfer energy to water compared to the way earthquakes shuffle oceans. Underwater explosions were thought likely to generate tsunamis during the Cold War, but 1990s research found that most of their energy would be spent on continental shelves, resulting in flooding no worse than a bad storm.

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