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Operation Tinderbox

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Title: Operation Tinderbox  
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Subject: Operation Guardian, Nevada Test Site, Yucca Flat, List of nuclear weapons tests of the United States, Salmon Site
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Operation Tinderbox

Huron King test chamber
Country United States
Test site NTS Area 19, 20, Pahute Mesa; NTS, Areas 1-4, 6-10, Yucca Flat
Period 1979-1980
Number of tests 14
Test type underground shaft
Max. yield 140 kilotonnes of TNT (590 TJ)
Previous test series Operation Quicksilver
Next test series Operation Guardian

Operation Tinderbox[1] was a series of 14 nuclear tests conducted by the United States in 1979-1980 at the Nevada Test Site. These tests followed the Operation Quicksilver series and preceded the Operation Guardian series.

United States' Tinderbox series tests and detonations
Name [note 1] Date time (UT) Local time zone [note 2][2] Location [note 3] Elevation + height [note 4] Delivery [note 5]
Purpose [note 6]
Device [note 7] Yield [note 8] Fallout [note 9] References Notes
Backgammon 29 November 1979 15:00:00.096 PST (-8 hrs)
NTS Area U3jh 1,175 m (3,855 ft) - 228.72 m (750.4 ft) underground shaft,
weapons development
800 t [1][3][4]
Azul 14 December 1979 18:00:00.09 PST (-8 hrs)
NTS Area U2em 1,275 m (4,183 ft) - 205 m (673 ft) underground shaft,
weapons development
less than 20 kt [1][3][4] Destroyed the Anvil/Peninsula device that was damaged during placement.
Tarko 28 February 1980 15:00:00.093 PST (-8 hrs)
NTS Area U2fd 1,280 m (4,200 ft) - 369 m (1,211 ft) underground shaft,
weapons development
5 kt Venting detected, 50 Ci (1,900 GBq) [1][3][4][5][6][7]
Norbo 8 March 1980 15:35:00.09 PST (-8 hrs)
NTS Area U8c 1,349 m (4,426 ft) - 271 m (889 ft) underground shaft,
weapons development
1 kt I-131 venting detected, 0 [1][3][4][5][7]
Liptauer 3 April 1980 14:00:00.089 PST (-8 hrs)
NTS Area U2eh 1,304 m (4,278 ft) - 417 m (1,368 ft) underground shaft,
weapons development
20 kt [1][3][4]
Pyramid 16 April 1980 20:00:00.089 PST (-8 hrs)
NTS Area U7be 1,266 m (4,154 ft) - 579.1 m (1,900 ft) underground shaft,
weapons development
89 kt [1][3][4][6][8]
Canfield 2 May 1980 18:46:30.092 PST (-8 hrs)
NTS Area U3kx 1,211 m (3,973 ft) - 350.5 m (1,150 ft) underground shaft,
weapons development
6 kt [1][3][4]
Flora 22 May 1980 13:00:00.089 PST (-8 hrs)
NTS Area U3lg 1,179 m (3,868 ft) - 335.6 m (1,101 ft) underground shaft,
weapons development
less than 20 kt Venting detected, 1 kCi (37 TBq) [1][3][4][5][7]
Kash 12 June 1980 17:15:00.09 PST (-8 hrs)
NTS Area U20af 1,911 m (6,270 ft) - 645 m (2,116 ft) underground shaft,
weapons development
140 kt Venting detected [1][3][4][7]
Huron King 24 June 1980 15:10:00.07 PST (-8 hrs)
NTS Area U3ky 1,187 m (3,894 ft) - 320.04 m (1,050.0 ft) underground shaft,
weapon effect
6 kt [1][3][4][9] Radiation and EMP effects shot through a mockup DMSP2 satellite on the surface, which was then towed off the collapsing cap. Picture of the test chamber. It is still on the NE lip of the test's crater.
Tafi 25 July 1980 19:05:00.082 PST (-8 hrs)
NTS Area U20ae 1,859 m (6,099 ft) - 680 m (2,230 ft) underground shaft,
weapons development
140 kt Venting detected [1][3][4][7]
Verdello 31 July 1980 18:19:00.092 PST (-8 hrs)
NTS Area U3ku 1,183 m (3,881 ft) - 365.76 m (1,200.0 ft) underground shaft,
weapons development
3.5 kt Venting detected, 45 Ci (1,700 GBq) [1][3][4][5][6][7]
Bonarda 25 September 1980 14:45:00.094 PST (-8 hrs)
NTS Area U3gv 1,209 m (3,967 ft) - 381 m (1,250 ft) underground shaft,
weapons development
20 kt [1][3][4]
Riola 25 September 1980 15:26:30.084 PST (-8 hrs)
NTS Area U2eq 1,254 m (4,114 ft) - 424 m (1,391 ft) underground shaft,
weapons development
1.1 kt Venting detected off site, 2.2 kCi (81 TBq) [1][3][4][5][7][8]
  1. ^ The US, France and Great Britain have code-named their test events, while the USSR and China did not, and therefore have only test numbers (with some exceptions – Soviet peaceful explosions were named). Word translations into English in parentheses unless the name is a proper noun. A dash followed by a number indicates a member of a salvo event. The US also sometimes named the individual explosions in such a salvo test, which results in "name1 – 1(with name2)". If test is canceled or aborted, then the row data like date and location discloses the intended plans, where known.
  2. ^ To convert the UT time into standard local, add the number of hours in parentheses to the UT time; for local daylight saving time, add one additional hour. If the result is earlier than 00:00, add 24 hours and subtract 1 from the day; if it is 24:00 or later, subtract 24 hours and add 1 to the day. All historical timezone data are derived from here:
  3. ^ Rough place name and a latitude/longitude reference; for rocket-carried tests, the launch location is specified before the detonation location, if known. Some locations are extremely accurate; others (like airdrops and space blasts) may be quite inaccurate. "~" indicates a likely pro-forma rough location, shared with other tests in that same area.
  4. ^ Elevation is the ground level at the point directly below the explosion relative to sea level; height is the additional distance added or subtracted by tower, balloon, shaft, tunnel, air drop or other contrivance. For rocket bursts the ground level is "N/A". In some cases it is not clear if the height is absolute or relative to ground, for example, Plumbbob/John. No number or units indicates the value is unknown, while "0" means zero. Sorting on this column is by elevation and height added together.
  5. ^ Atmospheric, airdrop, balloon, gun, cruise missile, rocket, surface, tower, and barge are all disallowed by the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Sealed shaft and tunnel are underground, and remained useful under the PTBT. Intentional cratering tests are borderline; they occurred under the treaty, were sometimes protested, and generally overlooked if the test was declared to be a peaceful use.
  6. ^ Include weapons development, weapon effects, safety test, transport safety test, war, science, joint verification and industrial/peaceful, which may be further broken down.
  7. ^ Designations for test items where known, "?" indicates some uncertainty about the preceding value, nicknames for particular devices in quotes. This category of information is often not officially disclosed.
  8. ^ Estimated energy yield in tons, kilotons, and megatons. A ton of TNT equivalent is defined as 4.184 gigajoules (1 gigacalorie).
  9. ^ Radioactive emission to the atmosphere aside from prompt neutrons, where known. The measured species is only iodine-131 if mentioned, otherwise it is all species. No entry means unknown, probably none if underground and "all" if not; otherwise notation for whether measured on the site only or off the site, where known, and the measured amount of radioactivity released.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Yang, Xiaoping; North, Robert; Romney, Carl (August 2000), CMR Nuclear Explosion Database (Revision 3), SMDC Monitoring Research 
  2. ^ "Timezone Historical Database". Retrieved March 8, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Official list of underground nuclear explosions, Sandia National Laboratories, 1994-07-01, retrieved 2013-12-18 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n United States Nuclear Tests: July 1945 through September 1992 (PDF) (DOE/NV-209 REV15), Las Vegas, NV: Department of Energy, Nevada Operations Office, 2000-12-01, retrieved 2013-12-18 
  5. ^ a b c d e Estimated exposures and thyroid doses received by the American people from Iodine-131 in fallout following Nevada atmospheric nuclear bomb tests, Chapter 2 (PDF), National Cancer Institute, 1997, retrieved 2014-01-05 
  6. ^ a b c Operation Argus, 1958 (DNA6039F), Washington, DC: Defense Nuclear Agency, Department of Defense, retrieved 26 November 2013 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Radiological Effluents Released from U.S. Continental Tests 1961 Through 1992 (DOE/NV-317 Rev. 1) (PDF), DOE Nevada Operations Office, August 1996, retrieved 2013-10-31 
  8. ^ a b Hechanova, Anthony E.; O'Donnell, James E. (1998-09-25), Estimates of yield for nuclear tests impacting the groundwater at the Nevada Test Site, Nuclear Science and Technology Division 
  9. ^ Sublette, Carey, Nuclear Weapons Archive, retrieved 2014-01-06 
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