Take it easy
  Project Faultless

38.634251° N-116.216149° W


June 6, 2020
Our breakfast: Eggs at Tonopah Station
Our Lunch- MRE's on the trail
Our dinner: Pizza at Home Town Pizza, Tonopah

DIRECTIONS From Tonopah, turn E onto US 6 for 74.6 miles; turn left and take dirt road, heading generally NW for 13.6 miles.

All you need to know about this site is detailed on the brilliant and useful https://www.atomictraveler.com/ web site, AKA The Traveler's Guide to Nuclear Weapons, which I suggest you not only visit but purchase several copies of An Indispensable Guide to the Nuclear Weapons Complex for the casual traveler or the professional historian for yourself, your friends and family, and the occasional passersby.

The following text comes from this web site.

THE LIMITED TEST BAN TREATY in 1963 forced the AEC to go underground and changed nuclear explosions from atmospheric spectacles to seismic events. Through the 1960s, the AEC continued its tests at the NTS with devices of greater and greater yields. In late December 1966, the 870-kiloton Greeley detonation shook multi-story buildings in Las Vegas and alarmed its citizens, who naturally wondered whether their buildings would stand up to the increased shaking and rolling expected from even larger future tests. Recognizing this risk, the government searched for a new underground test site farther from Las Vegas that could contain megaton-range nuclear detonations without shaking other nearby towns to pieces. The AEC found a likely candidate in the desert 65 miles northeast of the Town of Tonopah. Now, the Central Nevada Supplemental Test Area is nestled against the eastern edge of the Hot Creek Range several miles south of the abandoned Moores Station ranch.

In 1967, the drilling contractor for the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory advanced the Project Faultless emplacement shaft into volcanic tuffaceous sediments to a depth of 3,275 feet, where roughnecks positioned a thermonuclear device. The AEC reported that the purpose of this test, as part of the Vela Uniform Program, was to assess the seismic effects of “high-yield” detonations located outside the NTS and to determine the suitability of the Moores Station area for additional large detonations. On January 19, 1968, the AEC detonated the device, which yielded approximately 1 megaton of explosive energy. The blast effects extended radially outward over 1,000 feet, violently heaved the ground upward 15 feet, and created a steep chimney that collapsed upwards toward the surface. Windows shattered at the White Pine High School in Ely, 87 miles away. However, this huge explosion did more than just melt and vaporize rock. Like a tectonic jack, the pressure rammed the bedrock laterally and created or reactivated two roughly parallel faults 0.9 miles apart northeast and southwest of the explosion. As these faults each ruptured the surface for 3,400 feet, a 340-acre keystone-shaped mass of rock and earth slid downward between them, settling as an irregular-shaped graben about 10 feet below the rest of the desert landscape. At the same time, the collapsing chimney created a minor subsidence crater at the surface directly above the detonation. Additional smaller parallel faults curved from SGZ and formed radial fractures at the surface. Contrary to its name, the Project Faultless detonation created one of the most bizarre faulting patterns of any underground detonation.

The AEC later drilled test borings into the shot cavity to sample the rubble and resolidified rock melt and to measure the chimney dimensions to assess the yield of the nuclear device. The large amount of surface faulting and fracturing forced the scientists to conclude that the Moores Station area was geologically unsuitable for high-yield underground nuclear tests. The AEC eventually abandoned a second nearby emplacement shaft 3.4 miles to the north (codenamed “Adagio”) and moved all other high- yield underground tests to Amchitka Island in Alaska. The DOE completed its surficial cleanups and radioisotope surveys during 1973 and then returned control of the site to the BLM.

But if you want to know more, there's this:

The Faultless test was a calibration test conducted in a mine cavity 3,200 feet beneath the Hot Creek Valley near Tonopah Nevada, with a yield of around 1 megaton . This test was conducted to see if the land was fit for testing a 5 megaton thermonuclear warhead for the Spartan missile. The test failed because of the large degree of faulting that resulted in the area around the test. It was decided that the land was unfit for multi-megaton nuclear tests, so a similar calibration test was conducted at Amchitka Island in the fall of 1969 during Operation Mandrel.
The 7.4 foot diameter steel pipe that was used to place the bomb remains at the test site. The top of the pipe was originally flush with the surface, however, the ground sunk by nine feet following the explosion. A plaque is mounted on the exposed pipe to commemorate the event.
The blast also created a huge cylindrical underground cavity, a so-called nuclear rubble chimney. It is approximately 820 feet in diameter, and 2,460 feet in height. At its bottom lies over 500,000 metric tons of highly radioactive rubble, with radiation levels similar to the core of a nuclear reactor.
The completely unpredicted disastrous geological damage led to the cancellation of the entire project. The steel pipe was sealed with concrete and all other sites that were being prepared for more, even more powerful tests were abandoned. The excavations can still be seen nearby. A bronze plaque reminding of the test was affixed to the top of the steel pipe, which now serves as a memorial, marking Ground Zero of the Project Faultless test.
The center of the blast, deep inside the ground, is contaminated with radiation for thousands of years. But it appears that the surface is relatively "clean", and it is safe to visit the site. However, the plaque
prohibits digging in the area, or even picking up material from the ground.
On the way, about 9.7 miles past the Warm Springs junction, you see a group of buildings and an airfield on the left side of US-6. This is Basecamp, built by the Atomic Energy Commission as base camp for the Central Nevada Test Area. After the project was cancelled the USAF took over Basecamp and extended the runway to its current size. Today it is used as an auxiliary airfield for the Air Force, including secret test flights out of TTR and Area 51.



Lots of warning markers, some referring to "petroleum" but we have no idea what that might be referring to. At the site, thousands of feet below you, is a glowing radioactive cavern that you really want to stay away from. Looking to the west, you can see the fault created by the blast.

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