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Friday October 31st 2014

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Irish Seismometers Record North Korea Nuclear Test

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The energy from today’s (Tuesday, 12 February 2013) underground nuclear test in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was felt as far away as Ireland and recorded on seismometers in Dublin and Donegal, according to the Irish National Seismic Network (INSN).

The seismometers picked up the “explosion-like” event approximately 11 minutes after North Korea detonated what it called a “miniaturised” nuclear device.

Tom Blake, INSN Director explained that the explosion from the nuclear test propagated through the ground measuring 4.9 magnitude on the Richter Scale.

Mr. Blake, who is also Head of the National Data Centre, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation at the School of Cosmic Physics in the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS), explained: “The energy wave generated by North Korea’s nuclear test was clearly picked up by seismometers in north Donegal and the Dublin Mountains approximately 11 minutes after it occurred at 2:58 AM (GMT) on Tuesday.  It was located roughly in the region of the previous North Korean nuclear tests of 2006 and 2009. The South Korean defence ministry has provided preliminary yield estimates for the test of between 6 to 7 kilotons. Our data suggests the test was a more powerful blast than North Korea’s two previous tests.”

Mr. Blake said that seismometers are so sensitive that they can easily pick up strong seismic activity on the other side of the world.

“The Earth is a dynamic planet and susceptible to behaving in a more elastic fashion that one might think. An earthquake has the same effect on the Earth as a pebble does when dropped into a pool. The ripple effect of last week’s earthquakes in The Solomon Islands were also felt in Ireland, for example,” added Mr. Blake

The DIAS began modern seismic recordings in 1978. The Irish National Seismic Network (INSN) now features six permanent stations in Dublin, Kerry, Galway, Donegal and Wexford. 2013 marks 20 years since the beginning of digital seismic recording of the INSN. For more see www.dias.ie.