DOE's Report Claims "Revolutions" in CTBT-Related Science

By Samantha Pitz

Earlier this week the Los Alamos National Laboratory released a report, “Trends in Nuclear Explosion Monitoring Research and Development -- A Physics Perspective,” assessing current literature relating to explosion monitoring and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) for the years 1993 to 2016. The LANL report claims that "there have been significant technological and scientific revolutions in the fields of seismology, acoustics, and radionuclide sciences as they relate to nuclear explosion monitoring" and the CTBT, and also highlights how the CTBT was necessary to universalize monitoring to more than just nuclear states like the United States and diversify the monitoring capacity and abilities.

The report claims that the technological innovation that occurred due to the collaborative nature of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) could not have happened without countries working together to develop the scientific advances and capabilities necessary for effective monitoring. The first of two goals stated in the report is to present the current challenges and questions scientific researchers face so that the next generation of scientists may combat issues with less redundancy and more innovation. The second goal is to “help sustain the international conversation regarding the CTBT and nuclear explosive testing moratoria while simultaneously acknowledging and celebrating research to date.”

The literature and trends were divided into four research areas: source physics (understanding signal generation), signal propagation (accounting for changes through physical media), sensors (recording the signals), and signal analysis (processing the signal). The researchers were able to find 40 trends that were then assessed based on value and benefit to the monitoring system, and encouraged research and development for the future.

Click here for the full report.