Yield estimation of the 2020 Beirut explosion using open access waveform and remote sensing data

Sci Rep. 2021 Jul 8;11(1):14144. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-93690-y.


We report on a multi-technique analysis using publicly available data for investigating the huge, accidental explosion that struck the city of Beirut, Lebanon, on August 4, 2020. Its devastating shock wave led to thousands of injured with more than two hundred fatalities and caused immense damage to buildings and infrastructure. Our combined analysis of seismological, hydroacoustic, infrasonic and radar remote sensing data allows us to characterize the source as well as to estimate the explosive yield. The latter is determined within 0.13 to 2 kt TNT (kilotons of trinitrotoluene). This range is plausible given the reported 2.75 kt of ammonium nitrate as explosive source. As there are strict limitations for an on-site analysis of this catastrophic explosion, our presented approach based on data from open accessible global station networks and satellite missions is of high scientific and social relevance that furthermore is transferable to other explosions.