Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Amazingly, not a question posed to Randall Monroe

What Would Happen If We Nuked the Bottom of the Ocean?

I really expected to end up here when I clicked on that link. But no. This headline takes you to a Popular Mechanics article, so this is apparently a real question.

… Well, sort of real.

What would happen if you detonated the most powerful nuclear weapon ever used at the deepest point on Earth? Would an enormous fireball consume the trench? Would the world crack open and would earthquakes and volcanoes tear the entire region apart? Would anyone even notice?

The YouTube channel Kurzgesagt decided to find out.

Oh, YouTube channel! That’s gotta be a great place to go to answer questions of this sort.

Also: the answer to this question — what would happen if you set off the most powerful nuke ever made at the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean? — is not exactly surprising.

Click through if you would like to check it out.

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2 Comments Amazingly, not a question posed to Randall Monroe

  1. Pete Mack

    50 megatons is equivalent to around a 7.3 Richter scale earthquake. (I looked it up.) So there would be a modest tsunami at nearby islands. The shock wave would kill sea life in a big volume, too. An “ordinary” atom bomb is around 250 decibels at 100 meters*, while 205dB is enough to kill humans (and fish and whales.) A 50MT bomb would be more like 270dB at short range. To get to 205dB, it needs to be 5*30^6 times less energetic. The ocean depth is around 10 km there, which is enough to attenuate the sound by 10^4. After that, attenuation is much slower. It is possible that sea life would be killed in a radius of 100 miles.

    * i looked that up, too.

  2. Rachel

    Hah!

    I am always willing to look up taxonomic details, but seldom interested in looking up physics details — so good to see these details!

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