Types of Nuclear Explosions

The effects of a nuclear explosion depend in part to the height of the detonation. There five general classifications of bursts: air, high-altitude, underwater, underground, and surface bursts.

An air burst is defined as one in which the explosion occurs in the air at an altitude below 100,000 feet (30,480 meters), but at such a height that the fireball does not touch the surface of the earth. A detontation above that altitude is generally refered to as a high-altitude burst.

A nuclear explosion that occurs at or slightly above the actual surface of the land or water is known as a surface burst. If the explosion happens beneath the surface of the land or water, then it is known as underground or underwater respectively. The design of Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) uses the charaterastics of an underground burst in an attempt to destroy buried targets.

One of the greatest results of the type of burst is the amount of radioactive debris and fallout, and the force of the blast wave.

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