Irish seismometers pick up North Korea nuclear test

12 Feb 2013

North Korea flag image via Wikimedia Commons

The energy from North Korea’s third underground nuclear test today has been recorded by seismometers in north Donegal and the Dublin Mountains, about 11 minutes after it occurred at 2.58am GMT, the Irish National Seismic Network (INSN) has said.

Tom Blake, director of the INSN, said the explosion from the nuclear test propagated through the ground measuring 4.9 magnitude on the Richter Scale.

The energy wave was located roughly in the region of the previous North Korean nuclear tests of 2006 and 2009, said Blake, who is also head of the National Data Centre, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation at the School of Cosmic Physics in the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

“The South Korean defence ministry has provided preliminary yield estimates for the test of between 6 to 7 kilotons. Our data suggests the test was a more powerful blast than North Korea’s two previous tests,” said Blake, who added that seismometers are so sensitive they can easily pick up strong seismic activity on the other side of the world.

“The Earth is a dynamic planet and susceptible to behaving in a more elastic fashion that one might think. An earthquake has the same effect on the Earth as a pebble does when dropped into a pool. The ripple effect of last week’s earthquakes in The Solomon Islands were also felt in Ireland, for example,” Blake explained. image

The energy generated by North Korea’s nuclear test arriving at Irish National Seismic Network stations in DSB Dublin and IDGL Donegal about 11 minutes after the time of detonation. Image via Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic