Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Natural disaster recorded near North Korea's nuclear test site

Natural disaster recorded near North Korea's nuclear test site

Today (Thursday), a relatively weak 2.9 magnitude natural disaster was recorded near the North Korean town of Sungjibaegam.

The magnitude of the test was much lower than the North's most recent nuclear test on September 2, which measured 6.3 on the Richter scale.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) detected a 2.9-magnitude quake in area close to North Korea's nuclear test site on Thursday evening, but is now unable to explain the nature of the seismic event.

Prior to North Korea's nuclear test in early September, the DPRK previously conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, 2013, and two in 2016, with explosive yields of less than one kiloton, 2-4 kilotons, 6-9 kilotons, 7-10 kilotons, and 20-30 kilotons, respectively. These have prompted experts and observers to suspect the last test may have destabilized the mountainous location.

There are no nearby tectonic plate faultline boundaries to the test site.

A statement on the US Geological Survey website reads: "This event occurred in the area of the previous North Korean Nuclear tests".

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"I think the Punggye-ri region is now pretty saturated".

Fox News reported that the absence of two key officials in North Korea's nuclear programme during public events this week, which may suggest that another test was imminent.

These disturbances are more numerous and widespread than seen after any of the North's previous tests, 38 North has said.

"The reason why Punggye-ri has become North Korea's nuclear testing field is because this area was considered stable and rarely saw tremors in the past", said Hong Tae-kyung, a professor of earth system science at Yonsei University in Seoul.

North Korea has hinted its next test could be above the ground.

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