Amchitka Nuclear Test Videos
September 7, 2009 11:33 PM   Subscribe

Back in the early 1960s, Amchitka, a volcanic, tectonically unstable island in the Rat Islands group of the Aleutian Islands in southwest Alaska was selected by the United States Atomic Energy Commission to be the site for underground detonations of nuclear weapons. Three such tests were carried out and, thanks to Youtube, you too can watch some declassified US Government Amchitka test films. The first, named Long Shot, was an 80-kiloton blast (video) and was followed by Milrow (1-megaton) (video) and Cannikin (said to be under 5-megaton) (video). There's also a declassified video that discusses the program at Amchitka in more detail.
posted by Effigy2000 (10 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Interesting. Google maps has no image at their default zoom level. You have to zoom out until the island is invisible before Google will show you anything. It would appear the island itself has not been declassified. Then again, maybe some other online source has satellite imagery and I can put my tinfoil beanie back in the closet.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 12:02 AM on September 8, 2009

Incidentally, Greenpeace was born out of opposition to the tests at Amchitka. Also, the Wikipedia article on the island, which is decent.
posted by IvoShandor at 12:19 AM on September 8, 2009

OK, Wikipedia has plenty of satellite imagery linked. Tinfoil hat is back on the rack.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 12:38 AM on September 8, 2009

Yeah, the US government has been treating Alaska's native lands as a waste dump for decades.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:16 AM on September 8, 2009

Alaska, you say? Yah! And but also it was our brave American fighting troops, who, they were testing nuculer bombs against the Russian Communist Socialist Fascists, so they had to come here, to our, beautiful, Alaskan state of Alaska, right here in the US, and I can see Russia from my house.
posted by kcds at 5:40 AM on September 8, 2009 [3 favorites]

What I've always wondered is what happens to the radiation in underground tests? Does that get into the atmosphere or is it somehow "contained" underground? (Somehow, I have trouble believing that)
posted by nax at 6:15 AM on September 8, 2009

Antidisestablishmentarianist, the island is visible on Google maps, but it sure does have areas at very different levels of detail--I mean, check this view.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:33 AM on September 8, 2009

According to WP the island is almost continuously covered by clouds; that might explain the poor quality of the imagery, and why the only high-res images (the ones linked to by MrMoonPie) appear to be radar rather than visible-light images. That might be pretty much all you can get through the clouds.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:32 AM on September 8, 2009

They also payed out some cash to the workers.
UAF has some good background material too.
posted by vporter at 7:50 PM on September 8, 2009

What I've always wondered is what happens to the radiation in underground tests? Does that get into the atmosphere or is it somehow "contained" underground?

It depends on how deeply its buried and the yield of the weapon. Some are contained others aren't. Take the Storax Sedan shot for instance, it yielded a large crater and expelled tons of rock and earth and a fallout cloud, all very contaminated. Bury it deep enough though, and nothing escapes.
posted by IvoShandor at 3:40 AM on September 9, 2009

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