Letter | Published:

Study of Explosions

Nature volume 114, page 123 (26 July 1924) | Download Citation



IN view of the recent attempts to utilize surplus munitions of war in the investigation of the propagation of sound in the atmosphere, it may be worth while to direct attention once more to the opportunity that explosions afford for investigating the propagation of seismic waves in the upper layers of the earth's crust. In the Oppau explosion 4000 tons of explosive produced a wave that was recorded by a seismograph at a distance of 365 km. This was a surface explosion. The momenta communicated to the air and the earth by the shock must have been equal, and therefore the amounts of energy that went into the air and the earth must have been in the ratio of the velocities; thus much less than a thousandth of the energy can have gone into the seismic wave. If, however, the explosive is buried deep in the ground, nearly all the energy will go into the earth. Thus a wave of intensity greater than that produced by the Oppau explosion could be produced by firing 4 tons of explosive underground. Further, timing could be made specially easy by having the explosion in wireless communication with the observatories, thus eliminating the uncertainty of the time at the focus.

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  1. St. John's College, Cambridge.



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