Earthquake Rocks North Korea Near Nuclear Weapons Test Site

An earthquake rocked North Korea Saturday, just thirty miles from a nuclear test site.

The China Earthquake Network Center said the quake was a magnitude 3.4 and may have been caused by an explosion, according to Japan’s Kyoto News.

South Korea’s weather agency, however says the quake was closer to magnitude 3 and was likely a naturally caused earthquake.

Seoul’s Korea Meteorological Administration said the “lack of soundwaves” indicate that the tremor was not caused by a nuclear weapon’s test.

Fox News reports:

An official from Seoul’s Korea Meteorological Administration said Saturday’s quake was detected in an area around Kilju, in northeastern North Korea. She said the analysis of seismic waves and the lack of sound waves clearly showed that the quake wasn’t caused by an artificial explosion. She spoke on condition of anonymity, citing office rules.

CTBTO, a nuclear proliferation watchdog, says that the quake was “unlikely man-made.”

Saturday’s magnitude 3 quake was significantly smaller than those caused by previous weapons testing in North Korea.

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Investigation is still ongoing.

The United States Geological Survey claims, “We cannot conclusively confirm at this time the nature (natural or human-made) of the event.”

USGS seismologists say the quake had a depth of 5km.

From BBC:

The size of Saturday’s tremor is smaller than the earthquakes registered as a result of all of North Korea’s six nuclear tests.

After the last test, which North Korea said was a hydrogen bomb, initial reports from the USGS put the tremor at magnitude 5.6 with a depth of 10km but this was later upgraded to magnitude 6.3 at 0km.

[…] While the cause remains unknown, alternative explanations suggested by North Korea analysts include tunnel collapses at the testing site possibly connected to the 3 September test.

Some claim a tunnel collapse may be to blame for today’s quake.

South Korea’s weather agency, however, says that the earthquake may have been “natural” but caused by “geological stress” created by recent nuclear explosions, particularly the massive explosion earlier this month North Korea claimed was an H-bomb test.

ABC News reports:

The quake was detected in an area around Kilju, in northeastern North Korea, just 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) northwest of where the North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3, according to an official from Seoul’s Korea Meteorological Administration.

The area isn’t where natural earthquakes normally occur. A South Korean expert said the quake could have been caused by geological stress created from the recent nuclear explosion. Other possible causes include landslides or the collapsing of test structures such as tunnels, said Hong Tae-kyung, a professor at the department of Earth System Sciences at Yonsei University.

“It could be a natural earthquake that really was man-made as the nuclear test would have transferred a lot of stress,” he said. “The quake is small enough to suspect that it could have been caused by a tunnel collapse, and satellite data shows there have been many landslides in the area since the nuclear test.”

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