Satellite Images Reveal Numerous Landslides Around North Korea Test Site After Nuclear Test

Commercial satellite images taken one day after North Korea conducted its largest nuclear test to date (currently estimated to have been around 120 kilotons, or 8 times the yield of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima), show numerous landslides throughout the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site and beyond, 38 North reveals.

The area of these surface disturbances, which include numerous areas of pre-existing gravel and scree fields that have apparently been lofted in place from the tremors, is centered about Mt. Mantap at an elevation of 2205 meters.

According to the authors, these disturbances are more numerous and widespread than what they have seen from any of the five previous tests North Korea conducted, which would be in keeping with the increased power of the latest test. That said, there does not appear to be any evidence of a collapse crater, as might have been suggested from the strong, post-test tremor. Unfortunately, the resolution of this imagery is presently insufficient to show any other damage, (e.g. to buildings at the base of the mountain in the support areas), although it is sufficient to justify concerns that the entire site may have become unstable following the test, as some Chinese scientists have suggested (more on that shortly).

Figure 1A is a pre-test image acquired on September 1, 2017 for comparison with Figure 1B, which is the post-test image acquired on September 4, 2017. This overview provided is unannotated so as not to obscure any part of the image to assist in that comparison. Figure 2A is a close-up of one portion of the slope between the North Portal and the mountain peak showing a number of small landslides going down into a stream bed.

Figure 1. Overview of Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site Before the nuclear test:

And after:

Close-up of slope between North Portal and mountain peak showing multiple landslides before:

And after:

A different perspective.