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Sedan Tested Use of Nuclear Explosives to Move Earth

Photo - Project Sedan 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 projects.

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: February 20, 2014