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List of nuclear test sites

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List of nuclear test sites

This article contains a list of nuclear weapon test sites used across the world. It includes nuclear test sites, nuclear combat sites, launch sites for rockets forming part of a nuclear test, and peaceful nuclear test (PNE) sites. There are a few non-nuclear test sites included, such as the Degelen Omega chemical blast sites, which are intimately involved with nuclear testing. Listed with each is an approximate location and coordinate link for viewing through GeoHack, and each site is linked to a WorldHeritage page on the locality or the nuclear event(s) that occurred there.

Nuclear combat, test, launch and PNE sites
Testing country Approx. location Notes
United States The first nuclear power.
White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico A bombing range and more lately a missile range centered in the south near Las Cruces, an area in the north part of the range was acquired during World War II and used for the Trinity test. An area near the Trinity site is designated the Permanent High Explosive Test Site (PHETS) and was used in the 1980s to host very large ANFO blasts for international testing of military gear.
Trinity Site The Trinity nuclear site was originally private property taken over by the Army to test the plutonium implosion weapon,the first nuclear explosion on Earth.
World War II Combat Zone The Japanese Theatre of World War Two. By the time of the atomic blasts, it was centered on the Japanese home islands and included the Pacific Ocean out to Tinian.
Hiroshima, Japan The first target of nuclear weapons, the Mark I atomic bomb. The target was the Aioi Bridge across the Ota River; it exploded several hundred yards off. Hiroshima was a city of 250,000, suffering 40,000 or so deaths immediately and perhaps as many more over time.
Nagasaki, Japan The second target of nuclear weapons, Nagasaki was a city of 240,000 swelled to 263,000 on the day of the strike, chosen when the primary target, Kokura, was found clouded over. About 40,000 died immediately, and officially 73,884 died altogether. 74,909 wereinjured. Hillier than Hiroshima, the 33% increase in yield from Thin Boy resulted in slightly less casualties.
Pacific Proving Grounds A nuclear testing area in the Pacific Ocean.
Bikini Atoll An atoll in the Marshall Islands, Bikini's lagoon was chosen as the site for the first nuclear test area after WWII. Its use ended with the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which forbade atmospheric testing.
Enewetak Atoll The second atoll used for nuclear testing by the US. Near Bikini Atoll, they served as each other's alternate area.
Pacific Ocean Three US tests were performed in the open ocean away from all islands: Wigwam, Swordfish and Frigate Bird.
Johnston Atoll A small, isolated atoll closest to Hawaii (500 km), Johnston Island served the US testing efforts as an airbase for Operation Dominic and as a rocket base for Operation Hardtack II and Operation Fishbowl.
Kiritimati, Kiribati Formerly known as Christmas Island (the Pacific one, not the one in the Indian Ocean) Kiritimati was used as an air base for bombers dropping nuclear tests mostly south of the island. It hosted most of the Operation Dominic drops as well as most of Britain's Operation Grapple.
Nevada National Security Site A nuclear test site carved out of the Nevada Test and Training Range in Nye County, Nevada in 1952. Roughly the size of Rhode Island, it contains many terrains in which various bombs can be tested.
Frenchman Flat, Areas 5, 11 Frenchman Flat was the first area at the NTS used, mostly for drop tests. A small city of structures, a pine forest and multiple cars, trucks and military vehicles were positioned on the salt flat for tests. It is the original "Doom Town".
Yucca Flat, Areas 1-4, 6-10 The heaviest used test area in the NTS, used early for atmospheric, tower, balloon and crater tests, later for bore-hole tests. The latter are responsible for the large number of subsidence craters for which the area is known.
Area 13 An area of the NTS which was used for only one zero-yield dispersion test. The area was returned to the Nellis Range, and the subject of considerable cleanup efforts for dispersed plutonium.
Rainier Mesa, Area 12 The area in which the butte terrain is very amenable for underground horizontal tunnel testing. Contains over a dozen large tunnel complexes and a couple of bore-hole tests.
Pahute Mesa, Area 19-20 The farthest north of the NTS areas, this area was used mainly for bore-hole testing in hard rock and hard cap rock situations. It hosted at least one hard rock cratering blast.
Jackass Flat, Area 26 A large area in the NTS southwest. It was not used for nuclear testing, but contains the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, the MX missile mobile test site, the NERVA nuclear rocket test facilities, the BREN Tower, and the X tunnel facility in which depleted uranium weapons were tested. Many of these facilities have been torn down and removed.
Dome Mountain, Area 30 A mountainous area used for only one Operation Plowshare test, Buggy, in which five bombs in a row were fired in salvo, as a test of trench cutting using nukes.
Area 15 An area in the NTS in which three tests were executed. It is the site of the EPA's dairy farm which measured cow uptake of fission products, and the old Climax silver mine. Adjacent to the infamous Area 51, on its east edge.
Shoshone Mountain, Area 16 An area containing a single horizontal tunnel complex used for six separate nuclear tests. It is also the site for the Divine Strake conventional blast experiment, which was aborted by public protests.
Tonopah Test Range (aka Area 52) The area owned by the Air Force as the Tonopah Test Range, in which conventional bombs and tactics are evaluated. In 1963, four nuclear dispersion tests in the Roller Coaster series were executed on Tonopah Range land.
South Atlantic Ocean An area of the South Atlantic Ocean was used in the Argus tests, three rocket launches with small devices to explode in the ionosphere to test electron injection into the magnetosphere as a defensive weapon against enemy ICBM command and control.
central Nevada A site for the underground testing of large (5 Mt) weapons was sought, since the NTS alluvial valley wasn't suitable, by testing with a 1 Mt "calibration" weapon. The "Faultless shot showed central Nevada to be too unstable. The search them turned to Amchitka Island in Alaska.
Amchitka Island Amchitka Island in the Aleutian Islands chain was an alternate site for the underground testing of large nuclear warheads. Used for the Vela test Long Shot, it was tested for the larger role when Faultless in central Nevada proved that area unsuitable. The Millrow test showed suitability,and the island was used for the 5 Mt Cannikin test, the largest underground test ever performed.
Plowshare Sites Sites in which Operation Plowshare devices were exploded besides inside the NTS.
Carlsbad, New Mexico The site of the Gnome Plowshare project. It is 13.5 km (8.4 mi) southwest of the Carlsbad Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).
Farmington, New Mexico A site near Farmington, New Mexico hosted the Gas Buggy shot, an attempt to frac for natural gas.
Parachute, Colorado A site near Rifle, Colorado was used to exlode three nuclear devices simultaneously, hoping to create a reservoir in which oil and natural gas could collect. The test was named Rio Blanco.
Rifle, Colorado The Rulison test was an attempt to frac shale and release gas and oil.
Lawrence Livermore National Lab, CA The US's second national nuclear laboratory, LLNL designed weapons and did explosive, sub-critical testing in the hills west of the lab buildings.
Vela/Verification Sites A set of tests designed to allow scientists to get calibrated seismic and other data from known shots for the purposes of nuclear testing detection and verification. Later, the verification was to determine that tests could be detected by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization protocols, and in calibrating their equipment.
Salmon Site, Lumberton, Mississippi An underground salt dome site which was used for two separate Vela Uniform project tests.
Rainier Mesa One of the tunnels in the Rainier Mesa complex was used to fire a verification test.
Fallon, Nevada A Vela shot, named Shoal, was fired in a bore hole near Fallon, Nevada.
Balapan The US mission to Kazakhstan set off a series of explosions in unused bore holes for Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty calibration.
Degelen (Omega) The US mission to Kazakhstan set off a series of explosions in an unused tunnel for Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty calibration, and as test precursors for the eventual destruction of all tunnels in Degelen, known as the Omega series.
Los Alamos, New Mexico The US's first national laboratory, Los Alamos was created secretly during World War II to build the first nuclear weapon. During the 1958 moratorium on nuclear testing, a number of sub-critical tests were performed underground to learn more about the dynamics of explosions and the metallurgy of plutonium.
Tech Area 49 The US's first nuclear weapons lab, founded in the Manhattan Project in high secrecy. Tech Area 49 is an open area south of the lab, where zero-yield tests were executed in shallow bore holes during the 1958 moratorium.
Soviet Union The second nuclear power.
Semipalatinsk Test Site, Kazakhstan The first Soviet nuclear test ground, used for all kinds of atmospheric and underground testing, as well as sub-critical tests.
Ground Zero The first area of the Semipalatinsk Test Site to be used. Tower, ground and air dropped weapons were tested there.
Sary Uzen/Murzhik An area used to test a score or so bore-hole emplaced weapons. Some zero-yield testing was done there as well.
Degelen A mountain massif in the Kazakh plains, Degelen was bored with a hundred or so test tunnels. It was the site for the majority of the zero-yield testing at Semipalatinsk. After being returned to Kazakhstan, the tunnels were closed, then more permanently closed to discourage metal thievery.
Balapan Balapan was the site of most the Soviet bore-hole tests. It was also the site of the Chagan massive cratering test, which created Lake Chagan.
Novaya Zemlya, Arkhangelsk, Russia The second Soviet nuclear test site, specializing in the very large air dropped tests, including the largest ever, Tsar Bomba.
A: Chyornaya Guba (Black Bay) Sukhoy Nos].
B: Matochin Shar (Matochin Strait) A mountainous area (on the south side of the north end of the strait which names the test area) is used for horizontal tunnel testing and zero-yield testing. It is still in use for the latter today.
C: Sukhoy Nos (Sukhoy Nose) The area on the north side of Matochin Strait, used for air and rocket tests of massive blasts. The Tsar Bomba was tested here. The name refers to the land that forms the peninsula on the north side of the west end of the strait.
Kapustin Yar The first Soviet missile launch and test area. From the original V-2 rocket launch area almost a dozen nuclear tipped missiles were launched to explode over Sary Sagan, Central and West Kazakhstan and the Volgograd Oblast (region in Russia).
Kola Launch Area A launch area in the Barents Sea between the Kola peninsula and Novaya Zemlya.
Orenburg, Russia The site of a Soviet Army exercise which included a live nuclear blast.
Karagandy, Kazakhstan Karagandy had four of the Project K nuclear rockets explode in space above its soil.
Kyzylorda, Kazakhstan Kyzylorda was the location over which the 5th Project K rocket propelled bomb exploded. It also hosts the Baikonur Cosmodrome, uninvolved in nuclear testing.
West Kazakhstan West Kazakhstan hosted at least three high altitude detonations, USSR #s 82 and 83, and ZUR-215, all on rockets from Kapustin Yar.
Komi, Russia This area contains the Vorkuta Sovietski Airbase, from which the two Rosa nuclear rockets were launched toward Sukhoy Nos.
Volgograd, Russia The military Grom (Thunder) and Groza (Storm) atomic tests, on rockets from Kapustin Yar, occurred above this area.
PNE Sites The Soviets had an extensive program of peaceful nuclear explosions.
Arkhangelsk, Russia This region contains Novaya Zemlya, but besides that it hosts three seismic probe PNEs, Kvartz 1 (Quartz), Rubin 1 (Ruby), and Globus 2 (Globe).
Astrakhan, Russia This region has the Kapustin Yar space center, from which many nuclear tipped missiles were tested. 15 tests to create natural gas reservoirs, called the Vega series are in Astrakhan.
Bashkortostan, Russia This autonomous republic contains six PNEs, five named Butan (Butane) and concerned with oil/gas recovery intensification, and two Kama for creating chemical waste storage areas.
Irkutsk, Russia Hosts the seismic probe PNEs Meteorit 4 (Meteorite) and Rift 3.
Ivanovo, Russia Hosts the Globus 1 seismic probe PNE.
Kemerovo, Russia Kemorovo contains a single seismic probe PNE: Kvartz 4 (Quartz).
Khanty-Mansi, Russia This district hosts five different PNEs: Kraton 1 (Craton), Kvarts 3 (Quartz) and Kimberlit 1 (Kimberlite), seismic probes; and Angara and Benzol (Benzine), oil intensifications.
Komi, Russia This region contains PNEs Globus 3 and 4 (Globe), Kvarts 2 (Quartz), Gorizont (Horizon), all seismic probes.
Krasnoyarsk, Russia The area has seven seismic probe PNEs: Meteorit 2 and 3 (Meteorite), Kimberlit 3 (Kimberlite), Batholit 1 (Batholith), Kraton 2 (Craton), 'Gorizont 3 (Horizon) and Rift 4, and an oil intensification PNE: Schpat 2 (Spar).
Kalmykia, Russia The Republic of Kalmykia hosts the Region 4 seismic probe PNE.
Murmansk, Russia Murmansk holds two apatite recovery PNEs: Dnepr 1 and 2.
Nenetsky, Russia Holds one seismic probe PNE: Pirit 1 (Pyrite), a failed attempt to close a burning gas well.
Orenburg, Russia Besides the infamous Totskoye nuclear exercise, Orenburg hosts three seismic probe PNEs: Magistral (Highway) and Region 1 and 2, and an oil intensification PNE: Sapfir 1 and 2 (Sapphire).
Perm, Russia Perm hosts three channel digging PNEs: Tiaga 1,2 and 3, and seven oil intensification PNEs: Geligy 1-5 (Helium) and Grifon 1-2 (Griffin).
Sakha, Russia Hosts seismic probe PNEs Kimberlit 4 (Kimberlite), Kraton 3-4 (Craton), an excavation PNE Krystal (Crystal),and oil intensification shots of the Neva series of 5.
Stavropol, Russia Stavropol contains a single PNE named Stavropol, for gas intensification.
Tyumen, Russia Tyumen contains a single PNE Tavda, designed for underground gas storage.
Yamalo-Nenets, Russia Contains the three seismic probe PNEs: Gorizont 2 (Horizon), Rift 1 and Rubin 1 (Ruby).
Zabaykalsky, Russia The long range atomic missile test Tyulpan (Tulip) originated from this district, then known as Chita.
Aktobe, Kazakhstan The site of a single seismic sounding PNE named Basolit 2 (Batholith).
Atyrau, Kazakhstan The location for a series of PNEs exploring the use of salt domes for storage of natural gas, name Galit (Halite or rock salt).
Karagandy, Kazakhstan Containing part of Semipalatinsk and all of Sary Shagan, Karagandy has a single PNE named Meridian 1, but also had four of the Project K nuclear rockets explode in space above its soil.
Kostanay, Kazakhstan Kostanay Province hosted a single PNE called Region 5, one of the seismic probing series.
Mangystau, Kazakhstan Mangystau hosted three shallow PNEs known as Say Utes. Their purpose may have been exploration for a high energy weapons test site.
South Kazakhstan South Kazakhstan hosted a single PNE named Meridian 3, one of the seismic probe shots.
West Kazakhstan West Kazakhstan hosted three underground cavity experiments named Lira', and Region 2, a seismic probe. There were also military high altitude tests.
Bukhara, Uzbekistan Near Turkmenistan, another gas well fire was extinguished with a nuke named Urta-Bulak.
Kashkadarya, Uzbekistan Kashkadarya hosted a single PNE call Pamuk, to successfully extinguish a gas well fire.
Donetsk, Ukraine The Donetsk region of Ukraine hosted a single PNE name Klivazh (Cleavage), a shot designed to releieve gas pressure in a coal deposit.
Kharkiv, Ukraine Kharkiv hosted a single PNE named Fakel (Torch), a successful effort to extinguish a burniing gas well.
United Kingdom The third nuclear power.
Montebello Islands An archipelago of islands on Australia's northwest coast, the area was chosen for three British tests. The first, Hurricane, was in a ship in a waterway; the other two were tower shots on a couple of the islands.
Emu Field The site of a pair of British tower tests named Totem.
Maralinga The site of a pair of British test series named Buffalo and Antler, as well as a long series of "small" tests: safety tests, zero yield tests and so on.
Kiritimati, Kiribati Formerly known as Christmas Island (the Pacific one, not the one in the Indian Ocean) Kiritimati was used as an air base for bombers dropping nuclear tests mostly south of the island It hosted most of the Operation Dominic drops as well as most of Britain's Operation Grapple.
Malden Island, Kiribati Three of the UK's Operation Grapple series were exploded above this island.
Nevada Test Site In 1958 the US and the UK concluded the 1958 US–UK Mutual Defence Agreement. Among other things, it gave the UK the right to use the US testing facilities to test their weapon designs. The UK tested 24 weapons underground in the US starting in 1962, ending when the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty closed all testing in 1991.
France The fourth nuclear power.
Reggane (CEMO) A French experimental facility, Centre Saharien d'Expérimentations Militaires (CEMO), was chosen for France's initial bomb tests. The fourth bomb Gerboise Verte had to be scuttled so it would not be confiscated by the Algerian regime in revolt.[1]
In Ekker (CSEM) A large mountain massif in Algeria near the village of In Eker was leased from Algeria for French underground testing base under the name Centre d'Expérimentations Militaires des Oasis (CSEM); the nearby smaller rock of Adrar Tikertine was the site of five safety tests named Pollen.[1]
French Polynesia A French colony, French Polynesia has hosted the bulk of France's tests, atmospheric and underground.
Moruroa Atoll The primary atoll for French nuclear tests in French Polynesia. Earlier tests were air drops in the area, later bore holes into the coral and volcanic rock underneath were used.[2]
Fangataufa Atoll The secondary atoll for French tests, used when Muroroa became too contaminated for crew safety.[2]
China The fifth nuclear power.
Lop Nur The test base for all of China's nuclear tests.[3]
Area A: Nanshan The Nanshan (North Mountain) featured a mountain bluff ideal for horizontal tunneling. Four, and later a fifth, tunnels were bored to accommodate six nuclear tests and a series of sub-critical tests.[3]
Area B: Qinggir Qinggir is an area of broken, but fairly level ground which was exploited for 13 boreholes used for underground tests.[3]
Area C: Beishan Beishan (South Mountain) was used for tunnels for two tests.[3]
Area D: Drop Area An area of Lop Nur set aside for bomb drops from airplanes, and was the site of 596, the first Chinese (tower) explosion.[3]
Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center China's first civil and military space operations base, the nuclear launch was probably from Site 2 or 3, now inactive.[4]
India The sixth nuclear power.
Pokhran An area in India's western desert. The first test was in an open area, the rest in a containment several miles southwest.
Pakistan The seventh nuclear power.
Kirana Hills A series of low hills in a populated area in Pakistan, in which the Army dug tunnels in which to perform "cold" (zero-yield) tests in preparation for building their nuclear weapon.
Ras Koh The test site for the first Pakistani weapon, a horizontal tunnel dug under a mountain massif. The trademark pictures of the test are of the mountain shaking off a layer of dust and avalanching rock from the internal impact.
Kharan Desert The site for the balance of the Pakistani nuclear testing, a single test which may have had from 1 to 6 weapons included, all fired simultaneously.
North Korea The eighth nuclear power.
Punggye-ri Test Site A test area for tunnel underground tests in northeastern North Korea.
South Africa South Africa was embarked on creating nuclear weapons when the apartheid government decided to cancel the program short of the first test.[5]
Vastrap Field The intended site for South Africa's first nuclear tests. The site was prepared for use, and then abandoned when the apartheid government decided to given up nuclear weapons.
Brazil Brazil's program for creating nuclear weapons was canceled in 1990, five years after the military regine that started it.[6]
Campo de Provas Brigadeiro Velloso Brazil had a semi-clandestine weapons program called the "Parallel Program" until 1990 when President Fernando Collor de Mello canceled it, and this was to be the test site.
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