North Korea’s alleged H-bomb test felt in Donegal, Galway and Wexford

6 Jan 2016

Despite much international debate over whether North Korea has actually detonated a hydrogen bomb, recordings of tremors in Donegal, Galway and Wexford would appear to confirm the nation’s story.

Much of the world’s press and governments have been sent into a frenzy today (6 January) following the news that the North Korean government and media are claiming the state has detonated its first hydrogen bomb, something much more powerful than its previous tests.

However, even at the time of writing, there remains strong levels of scepticism about the state’s announcement given its track record in not-so honest propaganda.

According to the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), which was established to monitor nuclear weapons activity among states, it is believed that any nuclear weapon North Korea might have detonated would be similar in size to the one it detonated in 2013, which was smaller in yield than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

However, analysis from the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS) through the Irish National Seismic Network (INSN) showed readings that were consistent with what has been claimed by North Korea.

The INSN’s stations in Donegal, Galway and Wexford all recorded an “unusual seismic event” originating from North Korea at 1.41am this morning Irish time, according to correspondence from Colin Hogg from the Geophysics section of DIAS.

North Korea nuclear tests

The seismograph reading which shows the different stations picking up the unusual activity. Image via DIAS

Kim Jong-Un made the ground move in Donegal

“The recordings are consistent with the announcement by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) that it has conducted a nuclear test, their fourth since 2006,” said the statement on the matter in an email.

“Initial estimates for the size of this event indicate it to be equivalent to an earthquake of magnitude 5.1.”

The seismology readings obtained by the DIAS, however, cannot confirm whether the man-made detonation was of the size that would equate to a powerful hydrogen bomb, or a less-powerful atomic bomb.

Based off evidence from the CTBTO’s seismic activity readings from South Korea, however, it is believed that it is not a high-yield device, rather: “It is close to what happened in 2013,” said the CTBTO’s executive secretary Lassina Zerbo.“I think they are pretty similar in terms of location, magnitude and so forth.”

To-date, the largest hydrogen bomb ever detonated was by the Soviet Union in 1961; dubbed the ‘Tsar Bomba’, it had a yield of 50 megatons.

North Korean statue with flag image via Attila Jandi/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic