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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Jul 19;113(29):8104-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1602792113. Epub 2016 Jul 5.

Measurements of extinct fission products in nuclear bomb debris: Determination of the yield of the Trinity nuclear test 70 y later.

Author information

1
Nuclear and Radiochemistry Group, Chemistry Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545 skhanson@lanl.gov hds@lanl.gov woldham@lanl.gov.
2
Nuclear and Radiochemistry Group, Chemistry Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545.

Abstract

This paper describes an approach to measuring extinct fission products that would allow for the characterization of a nuclear test at any time. The isotopic composition of molybdenum in five samples of glassy debris from the 1945 Trinity nuclear test has been measured. Nonnatural molybdenum isotopic compositions were observed, reflecting an input from the decay of the short-lived fission products (95)Zr and (97)Zr. By measuring both the perturbation of the (95)Mo/(96)Mo and (97)Mo/(96)Mo isotopic ratios and the total amount of molybdenum in the Trinity nuclear debris samples, it is possible to calculate the original concentrations of the (95)Zr and (97)Zr isotopes formed in the nuclear detonation. Together with a determination of the amount of plutonium in the debris, these measurements of extinct fission products allow for new estimates of the efficiency and yield of the historic Trinity test.

KEYWORDS:

nuclear forensics; nuclear testing; stable isotope perturbation measurements; treaty monitoring

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