Explosion-induced compressive stress increases near an underground nuclear explosion are believed to contribute significantly to the containment of high-pressure gases within the explosion-produced cavity. These induced compressive stresses are predicted by computer calculations, but have never been adequately confirmed by field measurements, owing primarily to the unique difficulties of obtaining such field data. Vibrating-wire stressmeter measurements made near the Mighty Epic nuclear detonation, however, qualitatively indicate that within 150 meters of the working point, permanent compressive stress increases of several megapascals were present 15 weeks after the event. Additionally, stress-change magnitudes interpreted from the stressmeter data between the 75- and 260-meter range from the working point compare favorably with calculational predictions of the stress changes believed to be present shortly after detonation of the event. The measurements and calculations differ, however, with regard to the pattern of stress change radial and transverse to the explosion source. For the range of the field measurements from the working point, computer models predict the largest compressive-stress increase to be radial to the explosion source, while the field data indicate the transverse component of. stress change to be the most compressive. The significance of time-dependent modification of the initial explosion-induced stress distribution is, however, uncertain with regard to the comparison of the field measurements and theoretical predictions.
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Explosion-induced stress changes estimated from vibrating-wire stressmeter measurements near the Mighty Epic event, Nevada Test Site