The Geological Impact of Nuclear Testing at the Nevada Test Site

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The Geological Impact of Nuclear Testing at the Nevada Test Site

The Nevada Test Site is an area designated by the United States Government for Nuclear Weapons testing. It is located in rural southern Nevada and is about the size of the State of Rhode Island. This location was founded in 1952 as one of 5 on land sites designated for this task. Above ground nuclear or atmospheric testing was conducted at the Nevada Test Site until 1958. There was a break in testing until the United States decided to begin underground testing in 1962. There were a total of 828 nuclear tests performed underground during these years. In 1963 a limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed by the United States that limited above ground tests world wide. These underground tests were performed until 1992, and nuclear testing in the United States seized all together in 1994 when the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed. The majority of the testing was conducted to further the efforts of the Cold War, as well as, to further general understanding of the effects and results of nuclear testing. This paper will discuss the history, geological aspects, and impacts of the Nevada Test Site on this and surrounding areas of Nevada.

The history of atomic testing begins during the Second World War. The majority of testing during this period was done at the Los Alamos test site in New Mexico. All of the locations where testing was done have several key things that make them good locations for nuclear testing. They are all away from areas of large population density. For example the Nevada Test Site is 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas but has little or no population in the immediate area. They are also in areas where there is little or very deep ground water aquifer...

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...ically impressive, the atomic reservations are bleak compounds of windowless concrete reactors and factories and hasty government-spec architecture: places frozen in the 1950s and 1960s. (Seattle Times Company 1995)

Works Cited

"Estimated Exposures and Thyroid Doses Received by the American People from Iodine-131 in Fallout Following Nevada Atmospheric Nuclear Bomb Tests National Cancer Institute (NCI). 2002. June 2004.


Eckel, Edwin B., ed. Nevada Test Site. Memoir 110 Boulder, CO: The Geological Society of America, 1968

Nevada Test Site. Global security.Org. 21 December 2002. June 2004.


Part II The Nevada Test Site. The Seattle Times Web Edition. 1995. Seattle Times Company. June 2004. <>
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