Quake vs all the worlds Nukes.

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

According to Wiki's Richtor Scale the 8.8 quake was equal to a 15.8gigaton explosion.

How does a 15.8 Gt explosion measure up to all the World's nuclear stockpiles detonating at once in one spot?

Stronger or weaker?

Then what about the fact that this quake lasted several minutes. Would each individual tremor of the 8.8 be considered one 15.8 gigaton blast?


When I tried to understand 15.8g as a large pile of TNT, I came up with 43,287 Empire State buildings made out of TNT lined up side by side. It's difficult to imagine a pile of TNT that large detonating. 15.8 gigatons is such a large number for an explosive force.

At least with numbers that big it is not so difficult to imagine an 8.8 changing the rotation of the Earth which quakes this large do.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
mgb_phys
Science Advisor
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The total energy for the quake was 15.8Gt tnt - it takes quite a lot of energy to move 1000s of cubic km of rock even a small distance, and a lot more energy to compress and deform them.

The US and Russia have reduced their stockpiles to 'only' (!) around 3000 weapons each, say an average 100kT yield = 0.5Gt total. Even at their peak the capacity was nothing like the energy in an earthquake (or a major hurricane)

If you detonated all these weapons 30km underground 80km offshore as in the Chilean quake you probably wouldn't even detect it without special equipement.
 

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