Sedan Tested Use of Nuclear Explosives to Move
The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) conducted the nuclear excavation
experiment "Sedan" on July 6, 1962.
The detonation was part of the AEC's Plowshare Program to develop
peaceful uses for nuclear explosives. Sedan was the second in the
Plowshare series; the first test, Gnome was fired, on December 10, 1961.
Sedan was a 104-kiloton nuclear device detonated 635 feet underground
to develop the technology to use nuclear energy for earth moving
The explosion displaced about 12 million tons of earth, creating a
crater 1,280 feet in diameter and 320 feet deep.
The force of the detonation released seismic energy equivalent to an
earthquake magnitude of 4.75 on the Richter Scale.
In June 1963, employees of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (today
named the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) and Reynolds
Electrical & Engineering Co., Inc. winched a nine-ton drilling rig to
the floor of the crater on a ramp of metal matting 550 feet long. The
rig was used to determine the depth of the fractured area, and to
penetrate ground zero to collect additional scientific data.
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Date Last Modified:
March 20, 2015