The Mach Stem

A movie showing the Mach Stem effect from a nuclear explosion.

If the explosion occurs above the ground, when the expanding blast wave strikes the surface of the earth, it is reflected off the ground to form a second shock wave. This reflected blast wave can merge with the incident shock wave. This merging phenomenon is called the "Mach effect". The overpressure at the front of the Mach wave is generally about twice as great as that at the direct blast wave front. This footage is from a conventional explosion.

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National Science FoundationNational Science Digital LibraryNuclear Pathways Member SiteThis project is part of the National Science Digital Library and was funded by the Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation Grant 0434253