Soviet scientists have successfully used underground unclear explosions to bring water to arid regions by creating vast storage reservoirs.
Soviet scientists have successfully used underground unclear explosions to bring water to arid regions by creating vast storage reservoirs. They have also pioneered the use of carefully controlled nuclear blasts to put out runaway natural gas fires. Film of both projects was presented to the United States Atomic Energy Commission during bilateral talks in Moscow last February.
When a fire at a natural gas well in a desert area roared out of control, Soviet firefighters used all conventional means in their efforts to put out the gigantic torch - consuming 10 million cubic metres of valuable fuel a day.
Their efforts failed because there was a sudden pressure surge in the well, and the gas started to leak through the earth in several places. Dangerous amounts of gas began to escape, posing a contamination threat to a populated area.
So scientists decided to plug the well by means of an underground nuclear explosion. They drilled a new shaft at an angle to the gas well, sank in the nuclear device, then plugged the new shaft with concrete.
Shock waves from the blast compacted the earth above the gas field and blocked the flow of escaping gas. The dead well, its fire now extinguished, was filled in with earth and radiation was kept to a minimum.
The second pilot project using an underground nuclear device was also in an arid region. The plan was to collect floodwater in a reservoir so that it could be used for irrigation during the long dry seasons.
In the case, the blast was triggered to create a crater 100 yards (metres) deep and 430 yards in diametre.
A control room 6 miles (10 kms) from the site recorded all stages of the explosion and measured radioactivity. Within 15 days it was safe for men to work on the edge of the crater.
Then a channel was excavated and floodwater diverted into the crater. An artificial lake containing millions of gallons of water had been formed to prove that controlled nuclear explosions can be used to bring water to isolated areas in a very short period of time.