Nuclear Test Sites
From 1945 until 2008, there have been over 2,000 nuclear tests conducted worldwide.
United States Test Sites
Nevada Test Site, Nevada
Established by President Truman in 1951 and now operated by the Department of Energy, the Nevada Test Site (NTS) has been the site of over 900 atmospheric and underground nuclear tests. The Nevada Test Site was the primary testing location of American nuclear devices; 126 tests were conducted elsewhere (many at the Pacific Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands). On July 17, 1962 the last atmospheric test detonation occurred at the Nevada Test Site. Underground testing continued until September 23, 1992.
Trinity Site, New Mexico
Trinity Site is where the first atomic bomb was tested at 5:29:45 a.m. Mountain War Time on July 16, 1945. The site was part of the Alamogordo Bombing Range, now the White Sands Missile Range.
Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands
Some 43 nuclear tests were detonated at Enewetak from 1948 to 1958. The first hydrogen bomb test, code-named Mike, was tested on November 1, 1952. The explosion vaporized the island of Elugelab.
Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
Administered by the United States, this island was first used for nuclear testing during Operation Crossroads in 1946. On March 1, 1954, Bikini Atoll was also the site of the largest U.S. nuclear test ever exploded. The Bravo test had a yield of 15 megatons, 3 times the planned yield.
Johnston Island, United States Minor Outlying Islands
Site of 12 high-altitude nuclear tests during the late 1950's and early 1960's. It is administered by the United States.
Christmas Island, Kiribati
Used for British and American nuclear testing in the 1950's and early 1960's. Site of the first British thermonuclear detonation on November 8, 1957. The USA conducted 22 successful nuclear detonations as part of Operation Dominic here in 1962.
Amchitka Island, Alaska
Amchitka Island was the site for three underground nuclear tests. The first test, Long Shot (1965), was designed to determine whether the blast's shock waves could be distinguished from earthquakes. Milrow, the second (1969), and Cannikin (1971) were part of the U.S. anti-ballistic missile development program. Cannikin had a yield "under 5 megatons", the largest underground test ever conducted by the United States. Amchitka is no longer used for nuclear testing.
The Shoal event was part of the VELA UNIFORM program. It was intended to produce a better understanding of the seismic detection of underground nuclear explosions.
Central Nevada Test Area, Nevada
Project Faultless detonation, a nuclear weapons test conducted on January 19, 1968. The nearly 1-megaton yield was detonated at a depth of 3,200 feet below the surface. This area is also known as the Central Nevada Test Area.
Carlsbad, New Mexico
Project GNOME was the first nuclear explosion to be used for peaceful purposes. It's goal was to explore the possibility of converting heat produced by a nuclear explosion into steam for the production of electric power.
Green Valley, Colorado
The aim of Project Rulison was to determine if natural gas could be easily liberated from underground regions. The test had a yield of 43-kilotons. After the test, the natural gas that was extracted was determined to be too radioactive to be sold commercially.
The Rio Blanco test site had three simultaneously detonated 30 kiloton bombs, each at the bottom of a shaft more than a mile deep. The blast was marginally successful in causing the gas to collect in the cavity and fissures produced by the bombs, however the gas was too radioactive to be sold commercially.
Farmington, New Mexico
This was the site of the first U.S. underground nuclear experiment for the stimulation of low productivity gas resources. On December 10, 1967 a 29 kiloton nuclear explosive was detonated at a depth of 4222 feet. The GASBUGGY shot was part of the overall Operation PLOWSHARE (Atoms for Peace) program.
Two nuclear detonations performed in a subterranean salt dome formation, as part of a 1960's Atomic Energy Commission Test. The first detonation, to form the cavity, code-named Salmon, took place in 1964 using a 5.3 kiloton bomb, placed at the bottom of a sealed 2,710-foot shaft. The second nuclear blast, a relatively small 0.38 kilotons yield shot code-named Sterling, was exploded within Salmon's 110-foot diameter cavity more than two years later.
Open Sea, South Atlantic Ocean
Three high-altitude nuclear weapons tests, name Operation Argus, were conducted between August and September of 1958. The tests were designed to see if high-altitude nuclear detonations would create a radiation belt in the extreme upper regions of the Earth's atmosphere.
Open Sea, Eastern Pacific Ocean
Operation Wigwam consisted of a single nuclear detonation on May 14, 1955. It was a deep water test to investigate the vulnerability of submarines to deep nuclear weapons, and the feasibility of using depth bombs in combat.
Russian Test Sites
The former Soviet Union's largest nuclear test site. The Semipalatinsk Test Site was founded in 1948 with the first nuclear explosion tested in August 29, 1949 and the last in 1989. Over 460 nuclear weapons tests were conducted at this test site. The site was officially closed on August 29, 1991. The region was heavily contaminated by the testing.
Novaya Zemlya Island, C.I.S.
Site of extensive Soviet atmospheric and underground testing, Novaya Zemlya was the site of the largest thermonuclear device ever tested, a 58 megaton bomb detonated on October 23, 1961. Over its entire history as a nuclear test site, Novaya Zemlya hosted 224 nuclear detonations.
Note: The Soviet Union conducted many more nuclear tests throughout its terrority, but Semipalatink and Novaya Zemlya were the primary testing locations.
French Test Sites
Mururoa and Fangatau Atolls, French Polynesia
CEP (Le Centre d' experimentation du Pacifique). Fangataufa, and its sister atoll Mururoa, were the site of extensive nuclear testing by France between 1966 and 1996. The first French thermonuclear device was detonated here on August 24, 1968. Atmospheric testing ended in 1974, and underground testing ended in 1996.
Reggane, Sahara Desert, Algeria
The first French nuclear device was detonated at Reggan on February 13, 1960. At the time, Algeria was a protectorate of France.
In Ekker, Sahara Desert, Algeria
The site of French 13 nuclear tests between 1961 and 1966.
British Test Sites
Montebello Islands, Australia
The site of Operation Hurricane, the first British nuclear weapons test on October 3, 1952. There were two further tests on Alpha and Trimouille Islands in 1956.
Emu Field, Australia
The site of the Operation Totem, a pair of atmospheric nuclear tests conducted by the British government in October 1953.
Maralinga and Woomera Test Sites, Australia
The site of the Operation Buffalo, a series of four atmospheric nuclear tests conducted in 1956. Operation Antler followed in 1957 with three nuclear tests.
Chinese Test Site
Lop Nur, China
Primary nuclear test site. Site of the first Chinese atomic explosion on October 16, 1964 and first Chinese thermonuclear detonation on December 27, 1968. China's last nuclear test occurred here on July 29, 1996.
Indian Test Site
Pokharan, Rajastan Desert, India
Site of the first Indian nuclear detonation on May 18, 1974. This bomb was exploded 300 feet beneath the surface. The site of the 5 nuclear tests in 1998.
Pakistani Test Site
Chagai Hills, Baluchistan, Pakistan
Site of the first Pakistani nuclear detonations on May 28, 1998.
North Korean Test Site
P'unggye-yok, North Korea
The locale of the October 9, 2006 nuclear detonation.
South African/Israeli Test Sites
Prince Edward Island, Indian Ocean
Site of the suspected South African/Israeli nuclear test. A United States Vela satellite detected the characteristic double flash of an atmospheric nuclear explosion on September 22, 1979.
Site of the first nuclear weapon used in wartime. The Hiroshima bomb, Little Boy, was dropped on August 6, 1945. It is yield was about 12 kilotons. Little Boy killed 70,000 people and injured another 70,000. By the end of 1945, the Hiroshima death toll rose to 140,000 as radiation sickness deaths mounted. Five years later the total reached 200,000. The bomb caused total devastation for five square miles, with almost all of the buildings in the city either destroyed or damaged.
Site of the second nuclear weapon used in wartime. The Nagasaki bomb, Fat Man, was dropped three days after the bomb on Hiroshima, on August 9, 1945. It is yield was about 22 kilotons. Fat Man initially killed 40,000 people and injured 60,000 more. Three square miles of the city were destroyed, less than Hiroshima because of the steep hills surrounding Nagasaki. By January 1946, 70,000 people had died in Nagasaki. The total eventually reached 140,000, with a death rate similar to that of Hiroshima.