"Tired Mountain Syndrome" - North Korea's Nuclear Test Site Is Headed For A Deadly Collapse

UN Security Council sanctions aside, one of the reasons China has closed much of its border with North Korea and imposed emergency measures to monitor radiation flowing across the mountainous terrain is because the country’s scientists worry that the mountain under which North Korea has held five of its six nuclear tests is in danger of collapsing and unleashing a devastating cloud of radiation on the surrounding terrain.

And just in case anybody doubted the veracity of China’s warnings, a slew of independent analysts have confirmed what Beijing has long feared: North Korea’s Mount Mantap, a 7,200-foot-peak under which North Korea has carried out most of its recent nuclear tests, is suffering from “tired mountain syndrome,” according to the Washington Post.

Satellite images captured during the North’s Sept. 3 test of a purported hydrogen bomb, Mt Mantap could be seen visibly shifting during the enormous detonation which triggered a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in North Korea’s northeast.

And since that test, the region - which is not known for seismic activity - has experienced several landslides and no fewer than three more earthquakes.'

The North, which carried out its first nuclear test more than ten years ago in 2006, has built a complex system of tunnels underneath the mountain that’s known as the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility. According to WaPo, intelligence analysts use satellites to monitor the three known entrances to Punggye-ri to try and anticipate when another test might be coming.

Arms Control Wonk describes the site in more precise detail.

North Korea’s nuclear test site comprises a number of tunnel complexes in mountains surrounding a main support area. Following an initial nuclear explosion in 2006, subsequent nuclear tests have been conducted in a tunnel complex to the North of the support area, under Mt. Mantap. The site contains additional tunnel complexes that may be suitable for nuclear explosions to the south and west of the support area. The Punggye-ri site is capable of hosting nuclear explosions in tunnels with yields of up to a few hundred kilotons.

The tremors unleashed by the North’s last test shook homes in northeastern China. And eight minutes after the initial quake subsided, there was a 4.1-magnitude earthquake that appeared to be a tunnel collapsing at the site.



Images captured by Airbus showed the mountain trembling during the test. An 85-acre area on the peak of Mount Mantap visibly subsided during the explosion, an indication of both the size of the blast and the weakness of the mountain.

Anybody who was around in the 1950s and 1960s will remember that “tired mountain syndrome” was a diagnosis last applied to the Soviet Union’s atomic test sites. To be sure, earthquakes also occurred at the US nuclear test site in Nevada after detonations there.

“The underground detonation of nuclear explosions considerably alters the properties of the rock mass,” Vitaly V. Adushkin and William Leith wrote in a report on the Soviet tests for the United States Geological Survey in 2001. This leads to fracturing and rocks breaking, and changes along tectonic faults.

Analysts Frank V. Pabian and Jack Liu worry that the blasts have caused substantial damage to the North’s tunnel network.

“Based on the severity of the initial blast, the post-test tremors, and the extent of observable surface disturbances, we have to assume that there must have been substantial damage to the existing tunnel network under Mount Mantap,” they wrote in a report for the specialist North Korea website 38 North.

Of course, just because the mountain is literally crumbling doesn’t mean the North will stop using it as a test site. As WaPo notes, the US didn’t abandon the Nevada test site after earthquakes there, they said. Instead, the US kept using the site until a nuclear test moratorium took effect in 1992. For that reason, analysts will continue to keep a close eye on the Punggye-ri test site to see if North Korea starts excavating there again — a sign of possible preparations for another test.

But as Chinese scientists have warned, one more test might be one too many.

Chinese scientists have warned that another test under the mountain could lead to an environmental disaster. If the whole mountain caved in on itself, radiation could escape and drift across the region, said Wang Naiyan, the former chairman of the China Nuclear Society and senior researcher on China’s nuclear weapons program.


“We call it ‘taking the roof off.’ If the mountain collapses and the hole is exposed, it will let out many bad things,” Wang told the South China Morning Post last month.

But perhaps equally as concerning as the collapse of Mantap is the possibility that another test could trigger an eruption at Mt. Paektu, an active supervolcano located on the North Korea-China border, about 80 miles from Pyungge-ri.

The mountain has not experienced a major eruption for centuries, and its last small rumble was in 1903. But an eruption could have devastating consequences - possibly causing more death and destruction than a nuclear blast.

And with a North Korean diplomat reiterating today that the North intends to continue with its nuclear program, while the country has also decried the military exercises happening in the waters east of the peninsula, where the USS Ronald Reagan is conducting training drills with the South Korean navy.

However, the North’s Oct. 10 holiday and the Oct. 18 beginning of China’s National Party Congress having come and gone without a new test. And signs of movement at some of the country’s missile test sites spotted in recent weeks have apparently been false alarms.

But given the amount of time that has elapsed since the North’s most recent missile test, it’s likely that the next provocative test - be it a test of a new long-range missile or a seventh nuclear test - isn’t too far off.


toady Fri, 10/20/2017 - 22:23 Permalink

Ha! I called this a couple weeks ago, after they couldn't decide if the last "test" was a real test or an earthquake.I mused that if they kept testing in the same place they'd eventually get down to the earths core!

Not Too Important beyondtheprogramming Fri, 10/20/2017 - 23:17 Permalink

'Attended by Europe’s most powerful people, the opening ceremony of the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland was a dark, disturbing, weirdly satanic ritual.'"As I discussed in my article on the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics, the occult elite enjoys putting on full display its agenda and philosophy symbolic, dramatic displays which are reminiscent of dramas re-enacted in secret society rituals. Furthermore, there is no better way to showcase sheer power than putting the “Illuminati stamp of approval” on massive mega-projects such as the Olympics or major constructions. Here’s part of the show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVriVjdU8qMhttps://vigilantcitizen.com/… Satan into the light. 

In reply to by beyondtheprogramming

any_mouse Automatic Choke Fri, 10/20/2017 - 23:25 Permalink

Maybe Mothra. Godzilla was from the sea.

Raymond Burr could walk in Godzilla. It was a miracle!

All those radioactive flying monster movies were outward manifestations of a national nightmare from a single B-29 overhead.

The Japanese military was powerless to stop the monsters.

The Japanese worried for years about nuclear weapons on USN ships and USAF planes.

Little did they know the real horror was to be coming in as cargo from GE, "We bring good things to life." and placed on a fault line at sea level on a shoreline.

Hiroshima was a limited hangout compared to Fukashima.

In reply to by Automatic Choke

Not Too Important any_mouse Fri, 10/20/2017 - 23:43 Permalink

The radiation emitted from a nuclear weapon is completely dependent on the size of nuclear material inside the warhead, known as the 'pit'. There is no publicly available information on the various pit sizes of different nuclear weapons, but say, for instance, it's an average of 35 pounds. They're not big. So there is wild hysteria over 4-5 nuclear tests, roughly the radiation emitted from 140-175 pounds of nuclear warhead pit material. It's going to blow over China! It's going to blow over South Korea! Fukushima is measured in the thousands of tons of nuclear material, blown sky-high on 3/11/11. Much of that material was MOX fuel, uranium mixed with high levels of plutonium from used fuel rods. MOX fuel used in NPP's never designed for fuel that hot. Like putting nitro drag fuel in a Model T. And to take it one step further, there are only a small handful of NPP's designed to use MOX, yet MOX is shipped to nuclear power plants all over the world, yet no country will allow any NPP operator to say which ones are using MOX. Nuclear plutonium Russian roulette with the entire planet.If you live close to an NPP and it blows up, my suggestion is to run to it and get it over quick. The alternative will be far, far worse.People have no idea what's coming, and coming soon. “Fukushima Equals 3,000 Billion Lethal Doses“Dr Paolo Scampa, a widely know EU Physicist, single handedly popularized the easily understood Lethal Doses concept. “Lethal Doses” is a world wide, well understood idea that strips Physics bare and offers a brilliant, understandable explanation for all the physics gobbledygook Intelligence agencies and their respective governments use to disguise the brutal truths of the Fukushima Daiichi Disaster.“Three thousand billion (3,000,000,000,000) Lethal Doses of Radiation means there are 429 Lethal Doses chasing each and every one of us on the planet, to put it in a nutshell. This is up from about 70 Billion Lethal Doses March 23, 2011. It is getting worse everyday without any intervention by the US and the other nuclear powers….” http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/05/28/fukushima-how-many-chernobyls-is-it/"Note that the lethality of radioactive reactor cores goes up the first 250,000 years they are out of the reactor – not down." http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/05/28/fukushima-how-many-chernobyls-is-it/

In reply to by any_mouse

lucitanian Not Too Important Sat, 10/21/2017 - 06:17 Permalink

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“We are all in the same cart, going to execution; how can I hate anyone or wish anyone harm?”  - Sir Thomas More - 

In reply to by Not Too Important

IH8OBAMA toady Fri, 10/20/2017 - 22:31 Permalink

The next test will be hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific launched on an ICBM.  Two tests in one.But if they did test under that mountain with a hydrogen bomb and it collapsed, the question will be, which way does the wind blow in that region?  I'm not sure but I think it blows towards China. 

In reply to by toady

nmewn JackT Fri, 10/20/2017 - 22:53 Permalink

Yeah...but its still Trump fault because he tweeted a rayzist dog whistle at Congressperson Frederica "Hatz" Wilson (of course only a dog can hear it...but thats beside the point) while she was wearing a "We Are All Dying Here" T-shirt...(an over stocked item donated by that other asswipe Congresscritter Gutierrez)...and of course, some garish, red, sequined cowboy hat that even Hillary wouldn't be caught dead in on the campaign trail in Texas, while bumming a ride in a tax payer provided limo, a limo, meant for a widow with more integrity than "Hatz" will ever have. Still...Trumps fault! ;-)

In reply to by JackT

waspwench IH8OBAMA Sat, 10/21/2017 - 16:10 Permalink

Prevailing winds are supposedly SE in summer and NW in winter, so it depends on when a test is performed as to who is most likely to suffer.BUT China would almost certainly be affected to some degree and China could, if they so wished, deal with Kim.   It made sense for China to allow Kim's activities to continue as long as Kim could be used to antagonize the US, but now that Kim is a threat to China I do not understand why the Chinese are not taking action against him.This is localized damage.   The contamination in the upper atmosphere would be dispersed over a much larger area and would eventually drift over the Pacific

In reply to by IH8OBAMA

Nobody For President Miffed Microbi… Sat, 10/21/2017 - 02:50 Permalink

Oban is really peaty scotch. An acquired taste. My family went there without me while I was paragliding in France (the good old days), met back up with them in Glasgow. They really liked Oban and the mountain island right offshore. Talisker is the other peaty one. I used to be into the water of life. I do like the cut of your jib, Miffed.I mean anybody that can use obstreperousnus, and even spell it right (I obviously can't) has got a lot going for them.

In reply to by Miffed Microbi…