Large explosions in Uzbekistan

About 31 kilotons of chemical explosive was used in Uzbekistan during the period 1964 to 1993. The purpose, was for construction of irrigation canals in the Amu-Darya region. Information about these explosions were classified and not published in the USSR.

The most detailed list of these explosions (total 19 events) was published in report presented to the IRIS Consortium by the Institute of Dynamics of Geospheres, Russian Academy of Science (D.Sultanov et.al., 1995).

We have found in ISC catalogs 12 additional events which can be large chemical explosions in the Amu Darya River region of Uzbekistan.

Evidences which supports our assumption about the explosion nature of these 12 events:
  1. All 12 explosions were carried out within three small subareas, where it is known that real chemical explosions have occurred.
  2. No other seismic events located within or near (less than 70 km) of these subareas are mentioned in ISC catalogs during 1981-1995.
  3. Presumed explosions occurred between 04h GMT and 15h GMT (9-20 local time), the same time period as known explosions.
  4. 18 known explosions and 11 presumed explosions occurred during March - August period. One known explosion was made in December and one presumed explosion in January.
  5. 24 events occurred during a single period of 8 months : from Dec 1982 till Aug 1983. Among them were 18 known explosions and 6 presumed explosions.


All 31 explosions were located within three small (20-50 km) subareas, separated from each other by 100 - 250 km.

Table 1. Coordinates of subareas, and number of explosions carried out in each subarea
Name of subarea Latitudes N Longitudes E Number of explosions Distance,in km, of explosions from Gazli earthquake zone
URGENCH 40.86 - 41.04 61.60 - 61.74 4 130 - 200
BUKHARA 39.13 - 39.44 64.09 - 64.36 16 90 - 180
KARSHI 39.08 - 39.17 65.26 - 65.62 11 170 - 260

Below in Table 2 is a full list of the known and presumed chemical explosions in this area. There are thirty-one events with magnitude from 4.0 to 5.0. It is surprising that these events appear not to have aroused much comment by western seismologists. Twenty-three of them, each of which was a few kilotons in yield, were conducted during 6 months of 1983 in almost aseismic areas. Another eight were conducted before and after this period. All events are listed in ISC catalogs as earthquakes with magnitude mb = 4.1 - 4.9.

The closest active seismic zone is the Gazli region (40.3 - 40.6 N and 63.2-63.7 E) located in similar geological conditions.

All explosions were well recorded teleseismically. They represent a unique opportunity for testing and developing techniques for discrimination between earthquakes and chemical explosions.

Both types of event (earthquakes and these chemical explosions) occurred in a platform region (the Turan Platform) very similar to the Kazakhstan Platform (from the point of view of seimic waves propagation and attenuation). With these events, it would be possible to study both regional and teleseismic discriminants in conditions similar geologically and geophysically (not only crust, but upper mantle) to those of STS.
Table 2. List of large chemical explosions in Uzbekistan, used for construction of irrigation canals in 1964-1993
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Explosion # Subarea and number date origin time (GMT) charge size, tons K mb(ISC, no. sta) mb(NEIS) lat, N long, E locating agency no. of ISC stations used reporting agency, and notes
1 Bukhara 1964-Jul-23 05:29:28 9200 - 4.00 - 39.50 64.00 ISC 2 IDG
2 Karshi-1 1981-Jan-23 09:59:23 ? - 4.2/(3) 4.I 39.17 65.62 ISC 9
3 Urgench-1 1981-Jun-30 14:46:44 ? - 4.6/(17) 4.4 40.92 61.69 ISC 58
14:46:44 41.05 61.60 MOS -
4 Urgench-2 1982-Apr-14 07:40:20 ? - 4.5/(10) 4.6 40.89 61.74 ISC 46
40.92 61.74 MOS -
5 Bukhara-1 1982-Apr-20 05:39:09 ? - 4.0/(2) 4.0 39.61 64.30 ISC 22
39.62 64.25 MOS -
6 Urgench-3 1982-Dec-26 05:29:31 2550 12.4 4.8/(36) 4.9 40.98 61.68 ISC 77 IDG
05:29:28 40.92 61.63 MOS - mb(K) = 5.06
7 Bukhara-2 1983-Mar-05 11:37:51 ? - 4.7/(25) 4.7 39.26 64.39 ISC 77 IDG
11:37:49 39.28 64.34 MOS -
8 Bukhara-3 1983-Mar-23 11:07:57 1960 11.3 4.6/(8) - 39.24 64.13 ISC 29 IDG
11:07:55 39.34 64.09 MOS -
10.8 Uzbek network
11.0 Turkmen mb(K) = 4.56
9 Bukhara-4 1983-Apr-11 08:31:42 ? - 4.9/(10) 4.9 39.29 64.24 ISC 37
10 Bukhara-5 1983-Apr-16 ? 4280 - - - 39.00 64.00 - - IDG
11 Bukhara-6 1983-Apr-22 03:56:22 5426 11.4 4.8/(20) 4.8 39.34 64.24 ISC 74 IDG
39.49 64.27 MOS
11.0 Uzbek network Ms = 3.9
11.7 Turkmen mb(K) = 4.60
12 Karshi-2 1983-Apr-28 12:18:53 ? ? 3.9/(2) 4.3 39.16 65.22 ISC 8 IDG
13 Bukhara-7 1983-Apr-30 14:??:?? 3330 ? - - 39.00 64.00 - - IDG
obscured by large earthquake
14 Karshi-3 1983-May-06 12:01:23 ? ? 4.1/(2) - 39.17 65.44 ISC 9
15 Bukhara-8 1983-May-16 12:07:51 1690 11.3 4.7/(12) 4.7 39.31 64.33 ISC 33 IDG
12:07:49 39.38 64.26 MOS
11.6 Turkmen network m(K) = 4.74
16 Karshi-4 1983-May-19 12:03:09 ? ? 4.4/(6) - 39.14 65.50 ISC 14
17 Karshi-5 1983-May-26 12:18:14 ? ? 4.7/(11) 4.7 39.16 65.48 ISC 28 IDG
18 Bukhara-9 1983-May-26 12:46:22 3830 10.7 4.5/(6) 4.7 39.23 64.27 ISC 17 IDG
10.8 Uzbek network Ms = 3.8
10.8 Turkmen mb(K) = 4.33
19 Karshi-6 1983-Jun-01 11:58:37 ? ? 4.0/(2) 4.3 39.16 65.26 ISC 7
20 Karshi-7 1983-Jun-03 12:10:02 ? ? 4.5/(6) 4.4 39.08 65.39 ISC 14
21 Karshi-8 1983-Jun-11 12:57:30 ? ? 4.6/(10) 4.5 39.13 65.53 ISC 24 IDG
12:57:29 39.60 65.71 MOS
22 Bukhara-10 1983-Jun-15 13:34:03 4140 12.0 4.8/(28) 4.8 39.31 64.36 ISC 56 IDG
13:34:02 39.39 64.29 MOS
12.1 Turkmen network mb(K) = 4.90
23 Urgench-4 1983-Jun-25 20:35:11 2620 11.9 4.5/(24) 4.5 40.92 61.62 ISC 37 IDG
40.86 61.65 MOS
12.0 Turkmen network mb(K) = 4.86
24 Karshi-9 1983-Jul-01 06:08:55 ? ? 4.2/(3) - 38.90 64.90 ISC 9
25 Bukhara-11 1983-Jul-02 11:42:21 2560 11.5 4.8/(20) 4.8 39.22 64.36 ISC 52 IDG
11:42:18 39.44 64.34 MOS
11.6 Uzbek network Ms = 4.2
11.7 Turkmen mb(K) = 4.69
26 Bukhara-12 1983-Jul-11 14:47:56 3460 11.5 4.6/(13) 4.7 39.23 64.38 ISC 30 IDG
14:47:52 39.42 64.34 MOS
11.7 Turkmen network mb(K) = 4.74
27 Karshi-10 1983-Jul-16 04:32:01 ? ? 4.5/(6) 4.5 39.15 65.31 ISC 15 IDG
04:31:57 39.36 65.23 MOS
28 Karshi-11 1983-Aug-04 05:22:56 ? ? 4.5/(5) 4.4 39.09 65.33 ISC 15 IDG
05:22:52 39.32 65.17 MOS
29 Bukhara-13 1983-Aug-27 05:04:49 2280 11.2 4.5/(25) 4.6 39.24 64.47 ISC 45 IDG
39.13 64.30 MOS
11.5 Uzbek network Ms = 4.1
11.0 Turmen mb(K) = 4.51
30 Bukhara-14 1984-Mar-03 09:24:28 ? ? 4.3/(2) - 39.36 64.36 ISC 22
31 Bukhara-15 1993-May-08 13:21:29 ? ? 4.0/(2) - 39.10 64.30 ISC 11


Columns:
5 - yield in tons, data from IDG report (Sultanov et al., 1995, reference [2]);
6 - energy class K from regional seismic station bulletins;
7 - magnitude mb and the number of stations, used by ISC for magnitude determination;
8 - magnitude from NEIS bulletin;
9 - coordinates from ISC data, and sometimes from the Moscow bulletin;
10 - source of information for origin time and coordinates (ISC and Moscow);
11 - number of stations used by ISC for epicenter determination;
12 "IDG" - chemical explosions from IDG, 1995 report [2], total 19.
The remaining 12 events are presumed explosions, indicated in ISC catalogs, and located in the same way as the 19 known explosions within the Urgench, Karshi and Bukhara subareas.

References

[1] ISC regional catalogs, 1982-1995.

[2] Sultanov J, V.Adushkin, H.Rubinshtein, et al. Completion of data base of PNE and large-scale chemical explosions conducted inside the territory of the FSU. Report sponsored by IRIS, produced by the Institute for Dynamics of the Geosphere, Moscow, 1995, 142p.

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