Detection of Dynamic Phenomena Associated with Underground Nuclear Explosion Using Multiple Seismic Surveys and Machine Learning

Shaji Mathew*, Colin MacBeth, Jenny Stevanovic, Maria-Daphne Mangriotis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


The application of an active seismic method for detecting the source location of an underground nuclear explosion (UNE) is an ongoing field of research. The objective of active seismic in On-Site Inspection (OSI) is to detect the static signatures such as the cavity created by the UNE. Along with characteristic static signatures, UNEs produce dynamic phenomena such as groundwater mounding, which gradually revert to pre-test conditions. These dynamic phenomena are observable for an extended period, even up to several decades. The magnitude of these phenomena is prominent near the source origin and results from the redistribution of residual energy, such as pressure, temperature, and saturation. These dynamic changes in sub-surface rock and fluid properties will affect the seismic property of the rock, resulting in changes of P-wave velocity. These changes can be detected by using an active seismic survey. This study highlights the potential of using time-lapse seismic to identify ground zero by monitoring post-explosion variation in the seismic signature. Time-lapse seismic, also known as 4D seismic, is a well-known technology, used in the oil and gas industry for several decades for petroleum production monitoring and management. It involves taking more than one 2D/3D survey at different calendar times over the same reservoir and studying the difference in seismic attributes. This study investigates the characteristic dynamic phenomena associated with the UNE and their impact on the emplacement rock’s seismic property. Groundwater mounding (GWM) is one of the phenomena with a high gradient of dissipation during the initial days immediately after the explosion. We look at the impact of GWM variation on seismic P-wave velocity and discuss the potential of using time-lapse seismic for its detection. The challenges of implementing time-lapse seismic, such as non-repeatability, seasonal variations and time constraints, are discussed. A frequent seismic monitoring survey method (time-lapse seismic) is proposed to monitor rock and fluid properties changes due to the post-UNE dynamic phenomena. Due to the time constraint for the OSI activity, conventional time-lapse seismic processing would not be suitable. Therefore, a machine learning-based 4D detection workflow is presented. The near-real-time 4D detection workflow using machine learning can be implemented during the OSI to identify the source location or ground zero.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1287-1301
Number of pages15
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Issue number4
Early online date21 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • 4D seismic
  • groundwater mounding
  • machine learning
  • On-Site Inspection
  • OSI
  • time-lapse seismic
  • Underground Nuclear Explosion
  • UNE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Detection of Dynamic Phenomena Associated with Underground Nuclear Explosion Using Multiple Seismic Surveys and Machine Learning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this