Satellite radar observation of large surface collapses induced by the 2017 North Korea nuclear test

Sci Rep. 2020 Oct 20;10(1):17833. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-74957-2.


The artificial earthquake of mb 6.1 related to the North Korea's sixth nuclear test occured at Mt. Mantap, North Korea on September 3, 2017. It was reported that a large and complex surface deformation was caused by the event. The surface deformation was composed of expansion of explosions, collapse, compaction and landslides. Since the precise vertical deformation measurement is very important to estimate the stability of the nuclear test facility, we retrieved a precise 3D surface deformation field and then decomposed the vertical deformation pattern from the 3D deformation. The measured maximum deformation was about - 491, - 343 and 166 cm with the measurement uncertainty of about 3.3, 4.1 and 2.7 cm in the east, north and up directions, respectively. The maximum horizontal deformation was approximately 515 cm. The horizontal deformation clearly showed a radial pattern because it was mainly caused by the explosions and landslides, while the vertical deformation displayed a rugged pattern because it was affected by the explosions, compaction and collapse. The collapse may seem to occur along the underground tunnels and at the test site's epicenter as well. Moreover, the severe collapse was observed westside from the epicenter of the sixth nuclear test, and it has a depth of about 68.6 cm on the area of 0.3765 km2. On the basis of our results including the shapes, locations and volume changes of the large collapse, evidently a new vital piece of information was obtained so that it could be used to interprete the sixth nuclear test more accurately.