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Nuclear Weapons Effects (NWE)

Lead by Gregory Valentine, Program Manager

This thrust is aimed at building a stable program to support capabilities in the prediction of nuclear weapon effects. These capabilities declined over the past decade, but have become important again with the need to more accurately predict damage to complex targets and the resulting collateral damage, and to predict the potential effects of a terrorist nuclear device detonated on the U.S. homeland. The thrust involves several LANL divisions (EES, ESA, D, X, and T) and is closely coordinated with Sandia National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. EES developed a planning roadmap for NNSA that resulted in a series of technical workshops (to assess the state of the art in NWE, national needs, and technical gaps) and a new Major Technical Effort (MTE 7.5) in the program plan for NNSA's Campaign 7. The program plan includes research and development in the following regimes of NWE:

  • Weapon outputs
  • Hard and deeply buried target defeat
  • Defeat of chemical and biological agents
  • Non-ideal air blast
  • Nuclear weapon-generated fires
  • Fallout
  • Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and high-altitude effects
  • Current efforts are focused on securing funding to support the five-year program plan (at a level of about $8-9M/year for LANL), and on supporting coordination between NNSA and Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). LANL has several staff members in active roles in the joint STRATCOM/NNSA/DTRA/UK Nuclear Weapon Effects Users Group (NWE UG).  Rod Linn of EES-2 co-leads the NWE UG working group on fire effects.  EES is hosting a major conference of the NWE UG in April 2005.

    A significant project with the Nuclear Weapons Effects program is Hard and Buried Targets, lead by Wendee Brunish, Team Leader. The characterization and defeat of hard and deeply buried targets continues to be an important national security issue. Many targets worldwide require careful definition both in terms of the geology and the infrastructure that is hidden or protected by the geology. Geologic models definition and modeling weapons effects are the primary motivation behind EES involvement in this effort. Additional high fidelity modeling of facilities is needed to assess target vulnerability. The geologic models must include topography, lithology, target geometry, and constitutive models for each rock type, and associated uncertainties for each of the model fields. Once geologic/infrastructure models are defined, hydrodynamic and seismic forward modeling of defeat weapons are applied to the model to determine the effects on the hardened target.

    The EES thrust effort has resulted in a successful effort to obtain funding from the DTRA through an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) project. The EES effort for the ACTD includes collaborations with D-3 personnel on facility response modeling. The ACTD program will involve modeling sub-scale, intermediate-scale, and full-scale experiments of tunnel damage in a highly jointed medium. EES has developed a Geotechnical Assessment Methodology for Underground Targets (GAMUT) that will be used in the ACTD. The GAMUT 3-D model for the intermediate scale site (an Indiana limestone quarry), and for the full-scale site (the U16b tunnel at the Nevada Test Site) will be used by all of the participating ACTD modelers, including LANL, LLNL, SNL and two DTRA contractors.

    The ACTD project is focused on defeat, so additional program development efforts for this thrust are centered on characterization efforts. Some of the geophysical characterization techniques that we are exploring include enhanced passive and active seismic imaging, gravity gradiometry, and low frequency electromagnetic monitoring. 








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