July 22nd, 2010


My Atomic Garden

I was reading a story this morning that fascinated me. The gov't detonated a nuclear bomb underground in Colorado in the 60's in an effort to increase natural gas production. The good news was that the explosion DID break up the rock formation and increased production. The bad news was that nobody wanted radioactive natural gas. The story made news because exploration companies are once again looking at the property as a source of natural gas. What caught my eye in the story was that it was mentioned that a similar blast had taken place in New Mexico. I did a little Internet searching and found out that, yes indeed, the explosion at the Trinity Site was not the only atomic blast in New Mexico. In fact there were 2 underground tests conducted in the state; Project Gasbuggy and Project Gnome.

Project Gasbuggy was part of Operation Plowshare where peaceful uses of nuclear blasts were investigated. I had heard that the Soviets used nukes for engineering projects but was unaware that the US also conducted such tests and especially that they occurred in places other than the Nevada Test Site. Project Gasbuggy took place in 1967 in the wilds of northern New Mexico between Farmington and Dulce. The test was to see if an explosion could increase gas production. Like the test in Colorado, Project Rulison, this test had similar results in that no one wanted to buy gas with traces of radioactivity.

Project Gnome took place in southern New Mexico near Carlsbad. In this test it was hoped to create molten salt which could be used as a source of geothermal energy. Obviously the test didn't work. I would certainly love to get a specimen of the salt glass that was created. There are descriptions of blue, green, and violet glass that was found in the blast cavern. What is also interesting is that this test took place in an area with lots of oil and gas development. If you look at Google Earth/Maps, you see this blank spot in an area otherwise dotted with wells. According to the marker at the site, drilling is prohibited within a mile of the site. The coordinates are 32.263, -103.866.

In reading about these 2 other nuke tests in the state, my mind of course drifted to the idea of fursuiting. C'mon! What else would one think of when reading about atomic blasts?!? *chuckle* Since I have already fursuited an above-ground test site in New Mexico, why not visit the other 2 sites?!? Both are on public land in the middle of nowhere. I will be known as the Atomic Fursuiter! *lol* So now I have a couple of destinations to shoot for over the next several months. If nothing else I have learned a great deal about our country's nuclear history.