Chronological Listing of Above Ground Nuclear Detonations

Explanation and Summary

compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston
last updated 6 February 2001

Explanation of data:

nation: USA=United States of America; USSR=Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; UK=United Kingdom; France; PRC=People's Republic of China; RSA=Republic of South Africa

test name: upper case name is test series

date and time: Greenwich Mean Time

latitude and longitude in degrees

hob: height of burst (meters)

test type: A=atmospheric; AA=atmospheric, artillery; AB=atmospheric, balloon; AD=atmospheric, air drop; AR=atmospheric, rocket; AS=atmospheric, surface; AT=atmospheric, tower; AW=atmospheric, barge at water surface; W=underwater; WB=underwater, on shallow bottom; WD=underwater, deep; WS=underwater, shallow

site: AS=South Atlantic Ocean; BK=Bikini Atoll; CH=Christmas Island area; EM=Emu Field, Australia; EN=Eniwetok Atoll; FA=Fangataufa, French Polynesia; JO=Johnston Island area; JP=Japan; K=Kazakhstan; KS=Semipalatinsk Test Site, Kazakhstan; LN=Lop Nur, PRC; MA=Maralinga, Australia; MB=Monte Bello Islands; MD=Malden Island; MT=Missile Testing Range, Kapustin Yar, Russia; MU=Mururoa, French Polynesia; NV=Nevada Test Site; NZA=Novaya Zemlya, Southern Test Site, Zone A, Russia; NZI=Novaya Zemlya, Southern Test Site, Chernaya Inlet, Russia; NZN=Novaya Zemlya, Northern Test Site, Russia; PL=Poligon, Semipalatinsk Test Site, Kazakhstan; PO=Pacific Ocean; R-O=Orenburg area, Russia; RE=Reggan, Algeria

yield: (kilotons) ~ indicates approximate or assumed yield

device: mod=modification; primary=primary for multistage thermonuclear weapon

device type: BF=boosted fission; BP=boosted primary; FZ=fizzile; GT=gun-type fission; IC=implosion, composite core; IF=implosion, unspecified core; IP=implosion, plutonium core; IU=implosion, uranium core; LI=linear implosion; ND=no detonation; PR=primary; SF=some fusion reaction; SL="Sloika" thermonuclear; TN=multistage thermonuclear; (number)=multistage thermonuclear with number indicating percent fission yield

Summary of listed detonations

nationnumber of above ground detonationsyearstotal yield
United States2161945-1962153.8 mt
U.S.S.R.2141949-1962281.6 mt
United Kingdom211952-195810.8 mt
France461960-197411.4 mt
P.R.C.231964-198021.5 mt
South Africa119790.003 mt

Principal sources: Bruce Bolt, Nuclear Explosions and Earthquakes, 1976 (W.H. Freeman and Co., San Francisco, CA); Thomas Cochran, William Arkin, Robert Norris, and Jeffrey Sands, Nuclear Weapons Databook Vol. IV, 1989 (Harper and Row, New York, NY); Chuck Hansen, The Swords of Armageddon, 1995 (Chukelea Publ., Sunnyvale, CA); Chuck Hansen, U.S. Nuclear Weapons, 1988 (Aerofax, Arlington, TX); U.S. DOE, United States Nuclear Tests, 2000 (U.S. GPO, Washington, DC); John Lewis Wilson and Xue Litai, China Builds the Bomb, 1988 (Stanford Univ. Press, Stanford, CA); Robert Norris and William Arkin, eds., "Nuclear Notebook," The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1989-1998; Robert Norris, Andrew Burrows, and Richard Fieldhouse, Nuclear Weapons Databook Vol. V, 1994 (Westview Press, Boulder, CO); Leonard Spector, Going Nuclear, 1984 (Ballinger, Cambridge, MA); Carey Sublette, "Soviet Atmospheric Tests," 7 Oct. 1997, High Energy Weapons Archive, online.

© 2001 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 6 February 2001.
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