North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility could be on the verge of a massive collapse, and the hermit kingdom could be on the verge of a nuclear catastrophe.
North Korea conducts its nuclear tests under a large mountain which prevents radiation dispersal. Researchers now claim the mountain is under serious stress, and further weapons testing could cause the mountain collapse, causing a release of radiation from further blasts.
Since 2006, North Korea has conducted tested six nuclear weapons tests under Mount Mantap since 2006 at the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility. Analysts who monitor the 7,200-foot-high peak say the mountain is taking a toll from the tests, now suffering “tired mountain syndrome.”
According to the New York Post, a September blast caused a 6.3 magnitude tremor felt in China. Satellite images show that the mountain visibly shifted from the blast which caused massive landslides and lofted stone and gravel field around the area.
The area is now abundant in seismic activity, suffering three more quakes in the short time since North Korea’s self-proclaimed H-bomb test. International officials say the North’s claims might not have been exaggerated, as earthquakes generated from the blast indicate a massive thermonuclear explosion.
The Washington Post reports:
“What we are seeing from North Korea looks like some kind of stress in the ground,” said Paul G. Richards, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “In that part of the world, there were stresses in the ground but the explosions have shaken them up.”
Chinese scientists have already warned that further nuclear tests could cause the mountain to collapse and release the radiation from the blast.
[…] After the latest nuclear test, on Sept. 3, Kim Jong Un’s regime claimed that it had set off a hydrogen bomb and that it had been a “perfect success.”
The regime is known for brazen exaggeration, but analysts and many government officials said the size of the earthquake the test generated suggested that North Korea had detonated a thermonuclear device at least 17 times the size of the American bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
It registered as an artificial 6.3-magnitude earthquake so big it shook houses in northeastern China. Eight minutes later, there was a 4.1-magnitude earthquake that appeared to be a tunnel collapsing at the site.
Images captured by Airbus, a space technology company that makes earth observation satellites, showed the mountain literally moving during the test. An 85-acre area on the peak of Mount Mantap visibly subsided during the explosion, an indication of both the size of the blast and the weakness of the mountain.
The area, not known for earthquakes, has since been active.
Frank V. Pabian and Jack Liu claim the peak may be suffering “tired mountain syndrome,” a geological phenomenon rarely seen since nuclear weapons tests conducted by the Soviet Union.
Pabian and Liu wrote on 38 North:
It has generally been speculated that the first post-test earthquake-like event was somehow related to a structural collapse or cave-in, but this remains unverified at this time. Another similar event of 3.5 magnitude having “earthquake characteristics” was detected at essentially the same location on September 23. Most recently, on October 12, a 2.9 magnitude earthquake with similar waveform and depth (~5 kilometers) was detected.
[…] Because Mt. Mantap has been the location for the last five of six of North Korea’s declared underground nuclear tests (via the North Portal) and has undergone widespread observable surface disturbances resulting from the most recent test, it is not surprising that there were a number of post-test earthquakes. This may have caused some concern both inside and outside North Korea about “Tired Mountain Syndrome.”
For now, the nuclear test site endures occasional tunnel collapse, but things could get worse if the North continues to conduct blasts of increasing magnitude under the mountain. A collapse of the mountain would cause absolutely disastrous radioactive fallout to rain down on North Korea and China. The effects of that would be absolutely catastrophic.