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Let’s talk about tsunamis triggered by nuclear weapons May 5, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

After all, the Russians are on television.

Ireland is not mentioned directly in either of the two clips. In one segment, Mr Kiselyov speaks of an attack on the “British Isles” as footage plays of the islands of Ireland and Britain being wiped off the map by a nuclear weapon.

“It actually seems like they’re raving on the British Isles,” Mr Kiselyov says, after baselessly claiming UK prime minister Boris Johnson had threatened a nuclear strike on Russia.

Heated rhetoric, eh?

Anyhow, he continues:

“Why threaten neverending Russia when you’re on an island which is, you know, is so small?” he says, according to a translation from journalist Francis Scarr, who monitors Russian media for the BBC.

“The island is so small that just one Sarmat missile is sufficient to sink it once and for all. Everything has been calculated already,” he claims, as a graphic shows a blast erasing Ireland and Britain from the map.


Mr Kiselyov talks of using a Poseidon nuclear underwater drone, an experimental Russian weapon, to “plunge the British Isles into the depths of the sea”.

“It approaches its target at a depth of 1km at a speed of 200km/h. There’s no way of stopping this underwater drone,” he tells viewers.

“The warhead has a yield of up to 100 megatons and will cause a gigantic tidal wave up to 500m high. Such a barrage alone also carries extreme doses of radiation,” he claims.

The idea of triggering a tsunami by bomb isn’t new. It dates back to World War II. But, there are problems:

The weapon was only tested using small explosions and never on a full scale. 3,700 test explosions[1] were conducted over a seven-month period. The tests revealed that a single explosion would not produce a tsunami, but concluded that a line of 2,000,000 kg (4,400,000 lb) of explosives about 8 km (5.0 mi) off the coast could create a destructive wave.[1]

Let’s look at the Poseidon.

The Poseidon appears to be a torpedo-shaped robotic mini-submarine which can travel at speeds of 185 km/h (100 kn).[24][25][27] More recent information suggests a top speed of 100 km/h (54 kn), with a range of 10,000 km (5,400 nmi; 6,200 mi) and a depth maximum of 1,000 m (3,300 ft).[28]

Typical depth of the drone may be about 50–100 meters for increased stealth features in low-speed stealth mode. Low depth in stealth mode is preferred because sound waves move to ocean floor and reduce radius of detection. Submarines use the same strategy in silent running mode.[29]

It is 1.6–2 metres in diameter and 24 metres long.[30] The warhead shown in the leaked figure is a cylinder 1.5 metres in diameter by 4 metres in length, giving a volume of 7 cubic meters. Comparing this to the volumes of other large thermonuclear bombs, the 1961 Soviet-era Tsar Bomba itself measured 8 metres long by 2.1 metres in diameter, indicating that the yield is at least several tens of megatons, generally consistent with early reports of 100 megatons.[31] Some reports suggest the yield of the Poseidon’s warhead is as low as 2 Mt.[3][4][1]

The Tsar Bomba was remarkable, and there’s some very interesting footage of its detonation which, IIRC, was captured from aircraft in the area. Well worth a look. But note that the Poseiden isn’t quite in that range. Anyhow, say 2Mt to 100Mt as the ballpark figure.

The best point of comparison is with naturally occurring events – earthquakes that trigger tsunami’s. But there’s problems with that comparison. An earthquake isn’t a single point but radiates along tectonic plates.

But we have an interesting example here:

Landslides, tsunamis and earthquakes caused by testing

From 1975, all nuclear blasts were carried out underground, causing both short-term and long-term environmental damage. At the time of the explosion, fracturing of the atoll surface triggered landslides, tsunamis and earthquakes.

A report by the IPPNW and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research on the Environmental Effects of French Nuclear Testing found evidence that radionuclides were vented into the environment. Possible long-term effects include leakage of fission products to the biosphere and transfer of dissolved plutonium from the lagoon to the ocean and the food chain. A number of scientific missions to Moruroa described severe impairment to the atoll. The damage included fissures in the limestone which are propagated by the testing, and surface subsidences of large areas of the atoll.

At least one major test-related landslide and consequent tsunami occurred in Moruroa on 25 July 1979. The report on the Environmental Effects of Nuclear Testing claims that a 120 kiloton weapon that was being tested, became stuck inside the shaft and could not be dislodged but was exploded anyway. The explosion resulted in a major underwater landslide of at least one million cubic metres of coral and rock and created a vast cavity. The underwater landslide produced a major tidal wave comparable to a tsunami, which spread through the Tuamotu Archipelago and injured people on the southern part of Moruroa.

There’s a better reference here which notes:

Since army engineers were unable to move the device [stuck 400m down the shaft], they exploded it where it was, causing a massive chunk of the outer slope of the atoll to break loose. This generated a huge tsunami, which hit Moruroa, overturning cars and injuring seven workers. After the blast, a crack 40cm wide and two km long, appeared on the island. As a precaution against further tusnamis and hurricanes, refuge platforms were built at intervals around the atoll. For an hour before and after each test all personnel had to climb up on these platforms.

Note that it was the dislodgement of the outer slope of the atoll which caused the tsunami and that it was relatively low impact. Although disgraceful that this was done in the first place and appalling the legacy of same.

As for underwater explosions, it seems from nuclear tests that shallow underwater explosions can send significant volumes but that these are nowhere as described on the Russian report.

The Baker nuclear test at Bikini Atoll in July 1946 was a shallow underwater explosion, part of Operation Crossroads. A 20 kiloton warhead was detonated in a lagoon which was approximately 200 ft (61 m) deep.

The first effect was illumination of the sea from the underwater fireball. A rapidly expanding gas bubble created a shock wave that caused an expanding ring of apparently dark water at the surface, called the slick, followed by an expanding ring of apparently white water, called the crack. A mound of water and spray, called the spray dome, formed at the water’s surface which became more columnar as it rose. When the rising gas bubble broke the surface, it created a shock wave in the air as well. Water vapor in the air condensed as a result of Prandtl–Meyer expansion fans decreasing the air pressure, density, and temperature below the dew point; making a spherical cloud that marked the location of the shock wave. Water filling the cavity formed by the bubble caused a hollow column of water, called the chimney or plume, to rise 6,000 ft (1,800 m) in the air and break through the top of the cloud.

A series of ocean surface waves moved outward from the center. The first wave was about 94 ft (29 m) high at 1,000 ft (300 m) from the center. Other waves followed, and at further distances some of these were higher than the first wave. For example, at 22,000 ft (6,700 m) from the center, the ninth wave was the highest at 6 ft (1.8 m). Gravity caused the column to fall to the surface and caused a cloud of mist to move outward rapidly from the base of the column, called the base surge. The ultimate size of the base surge was 3.5 mi (5.6 km) in diameter and 1,800 ft (550 m) high. The base surge rose from the surface and merged with other products of the explosion, to form clouds which produced moderate to heavy rainfall for nearly one hour.[6]

The heights of surface waves generated by deep underwater explosions are greater because more energy is delivered to the water. During the Cold War, underwater explosions were thought to operate under the same principles as tsunamis, potentially increasing dramatically in height as they move over shallow water, and flooding the land beyond the shoreline.[7]

Later research and analysis suggested that water waves generated by explosions were different from those generated by tsunamis and landslides. Méhauté et al. conclude in their 1996 overview Water Waves Generated by Underwater Explosion that the surface waves from even a very large offshore undersea explosion would expend most of their energy on the continental shelf, resulting in coastal flooding no worse than that from a bad storm.[2]

The Operation Wigwam test in 1955 occurred at a depth of 2,000 ft (610 m), the deepest detonation of any nuclear device.

Unless it breaks the water surface while still a hot gas bubble, an underwater nuclear explosion leaves no trace at the surface but hot, radioactive water rising from below. This is always the case with explosions deeper than about 2,000 ft (610 m).[6]

Now, all these used devices in the Kt range, but consider again the examples from earthquakes where the equivalent energy is massively greater.

Take the Indian Ocean Earthquake of 2004 which saw a surface energy release of 26Mt (about a quarter of Tsar Bomba). But crucially it was the underground release that powered the tsunami. This was 9,600 Gigatons ( 9,600,000 Mt). Waves reached up to 24 m in some places where they came ashore. There was near unimaginable devastation and at least 227, 898 people died.

In no sense underplaying the enormity of what took place it is worth noting that the apocalyptic scenes of tsunami hundreds meters high depicted on Russian television were not replicated in this appalling event where there were many many many multiples of the energy release from the one device described in the report.

It’s not even the vicious hyperbole used but rather the underlying threat. That’s what is  so telling.

There’s another factor the Russians didn’t consider in their interesting, and in an unintended way educative, little video. For there is a second video that was shown on the same programme.

The second video… was aimed at comments by British officials supporting Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory, as well as driving Russian forces from all Ukrainian territory. The video shows an RS-28 Sarmat – Russian’s newest ICBM, nicknamed the Satan II – being launched from western Russia and landing in central England.

Though as Forbes notes;

“It actually seems like they’re raving on the British Isles,” Kiselyov said. “Why threaten never-ending Russia with nuclear weapons when you’re on an island that is so small? The island is so small that one Sarmat missile is sufficient to sink it once and for all.”

Of course, the fact that the UK is geographically smaller than Russia is irrelevant for purposes of mutual destruction. However many ICBMs Russia has, what matters is that Britain has four Vanguard-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, each armed with up to 16 American-made Trident II missiles equipped with multiple nuclear warheads. That arsenal is probably sufficient to turn Russia into a nearly pre-industrial state.

So not merely is this belligerent and stupid, even by its own lights. It ignores basic facts in the mix. I guess that’s the very definition of propaganda.

Mind you, so does Tom Clonan in his analysis of it in the Mirror.

“On a kind of a practical level, the simulation shows what they call a Poseidon nuclear underwater drone which has a warhead of up to about 100 megatons, and the idea is as presented by the Russians is that this would be detonated underwater off the northeast coast somewhere above Donegal – maybe about 100 miles or so out.

Are you worried about a nuclear war? Let us know in the comments section

“This would create such a shockwave and a blast that it would create a tsunami of 500m tall that would sweep over Ireland and Britain – which they, rather irritatingly refer to as the British Isles.

“It would represent the destruction of both countries and would see the annihilation of millions and millions of people.”

He continued: “So, it’s an absolutely horrific threat. I mean to actually put it into a graphic and to present it in that way.

“Now, I suppose, not unlike the Russian Navy exercises off the southwest coast it kind of also points the finger at Europe’s vulnerability.”

Mr Clonan said Ireland doesn’t have the capacity to monitor a threat of this level, especially something being launched underwater.

“They’re fighting a war of aggression in Ukraine which is at the very eastern fringes of Europe and we’re at the very western frame but we don’t have any capacity to monitor our ocean space or economic area,” he explained.

“But also, if this drone is launched underwater, they’re saying to the brits that your missile shield won’t work because we will do this underwater.”

Well, that’s wrong on many counts, not least in that the British nuclear forces wouldn’t be affected – although is that what he means regarding a ‘missile shield’? As far as I’m aware, the UK does not possess an anti-ICBM capability. And as noted above such a tidal wave is deeply implausible as an effect of the detonation of a single device, or even a significant number of them. But over-hyping the supposed content of the threat does no service to anyone – it merely deflects attention away from the fact of the threat.

By the way, a footnote:

Underwater nuclear tests close to the surface can disperse radioactive water and steam over a large area, with severe effects on marine life, nearby infrastructures and humans.[4][5] The detonation of nuclear weapons underwater was banned by the 1963 Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and it is also prohibited under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty of 1996.


The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a multilateral treaty that bans nuclear weapons test explosions and any other nuclear explosions, for both civilian and military purposes, in all environments.

So not just absurd and unjustified belligerency, but also something that would be in breach of treaties.

Does that matter? Perhaps not. Though it should. But that’s where we are when loose and threatening rhetoric is the order of the day.


1. Tomboktu - May 5, 2022

I would say the intended main audience for that piece of propaganda is the spittle merchants on social media in Britain and Ireland who can be expected to take video and ‘amplify’ it on twitter and Facebook. By doing that, they expand the numbers Britain who believe they have ‘legitimate concerns’ about the UK’s support for Ukraine. That won’t be enough to cause Johnson out his successor to withdraw their story, but as the supermarket slogan says ‘every little helps’.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - May 5, 2022

That take makes a lot of sense.


WorldbyStorm - May 5, 2022

Btw just on the use of nuclear weapons by Russia Mark Galeotti had some very interesting points to make, not least that this hardware has been mothballed effectively since 1992 or so and that a) it would take time to deploy b) the Russians will be watched like hawks by the US etc for any indications of same and of course c) it’s preposterous and the likelihood of strategic or tactical use of nuclear weapons is simply implausible (for example tactical use could only be as a terror weapon not as a means of military use because there aren’t large scale troop concentrations on the Ukrainian side to use them against. And his read was Putin is very unlikely to use them as a terror weapon since at points where the Russian forces have failed already as with the efforts to take Kyiv they’ve withdrawn – and of course it would be an historic escalation).


2. “Russian state TV shows clips simulating Ireland being wiped out by nuclear weapons” – Expel Ambassador Yuri Filatov! | Tomás Ó Flatharta - May 5, 2022

[…] Vladimir Putin’s puppet tv channel threatens Ireland with nuclear extinction – Expel Ambassador Yuri Filatov from his plush residence in Orwell Road.! See also https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2022/05/05/lets-talk-about-nuclear-explosion-triggered-tsunamis/ […]


3. Jim Monaghan - May 5, 2022

Quite scary. One of my earliest memories were threats of war, nuclear war, over two tiny islands of Mainland China, Quemoy and Matsue. I worry about where, if anywhere, my little grandsons would be safe.
I hope nuclear disarmament talks will happen again leading to a de-escalation of the threat of it.
The above person (I want to use a nasty word) reminds me of this gung ho nasty, Curtis LeMay
Those who threaten nuclear war should be regarded as war criminals and be sent to the Hague.

Liked by 1 person

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