GT0 Explosion Sources for IMS Infrasound Calibration: Charge Design and Yield Estimation from Near-source Observations

Y. Gitterman, R. Hofstetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Three large-scale on-surface explosions were conducted by the Geophysical Institute of Israel (GII) at the Sayarim Military Range, Negev desert, Israel: about 82 tons of strong high explosives in August 2009, and two explosions of about 10 and 100 tons of ANFO explosives in January 2011. It was a collaborative effort between Israel, CTBTO, USA and several European countries, with the main goal to provide fully controlled ground truth (GT0) infrasound sources, monitored by extensive observations, for calibration of International Monitoring System (IMS) infrasound stations in Europe, Middle East and Asia. In all shots, the explosives were assembled like a pyramid/hemisphere on dry desert alluvium, with a complicated explosion design, different from the ideal homogenous hemisphere used in similar experiments in the past. Strong boosters and an upward charge detonation scheme were applied to provide more energy radiated to the atmosphere. Under these conditions the evaluation of the actual explosion yield, an important source parameter, is crucial for the GT0 calibration experiment. Audio-visual, air-shock and acoustic records were utilized for interpretation of observed unique blast effects, and for determination of blast wave parameters suited for yield estimation and the associated relationships. High-pressure gauges were deployed at 100-600 m to record air-blast properties, evaluate the efficiency of the charge design and energy generation, and provide a reliable estimation of the charge yield. The yield estimators, based on empirical scaled relations for well-known basic air-blast parameters-the peak pressure, impulse and positive phase duration, as well as on the crater dimensions and seismic magnitudes, were analyzed. A novel empirical scaled relationship for the little-known secondary shock delay was developed, consistent for broad ranges of ANFO charges and distances, which facilitates using this stable and reliable air-blast parameter as a new potential yield estimator. The delay data of the 2009 shot with IMI explosives, characterized by much higher detonation velocity, are clearly separated from ANFO data, thus indicating a dependence on explosive type. This unique dual Sayarim explosion experiment (August 2009/January 2011), with the strongest GT0 sources since the establishment of the IMS network, clearly demonstrated the most favorable westward/eastward infrasound propagation up to 3,400/6,250 km according to appropriate summer/winter weather pattern and stratospheric wind directions, respectively, and thus verified empirically common models of infrasound propagation in the atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-619
Number of pages21
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Issue number3-5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Controlled surface chemical explosion
  • IMS infrasound station calibration
  • airblast secondary shock delay
  • infrasound propagation
  • yield estimation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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