June 6, 2020
|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.
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
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.