Satellite view of Fangataufa Atoll showing the dark blue depths of the induced crater. Courtesy NASA.
|Area||45 km2 (17 sq mi) (lagoon)
5 km² (above water)
|Length||9.5 km (5.9 mi)|
|Width||9.5 km (5.9 mi)|
Fangataufa or Fangatafoa is a small, low, narrow, coral atoll in the eastern side of the Tuamotu Archipelago. Along with its neighboring atoll, Moruroa, it has been the site of approximately 200 nuclear bomb tests.
The island is approx. 9.5 km long and 9.5 km wide. It has a lagoon area of 45 km2 and a land area of 5 km2. It is located 37 km south of Moruroa atoll, 197 km east of Tematangi, 240 km southwest of the Gambier Islands and 1190 km southeast of Tahiti.
Access to the lagoon is through a pass lying 0.5 mile SW of the northernmost point of the atoll; the channel has a width of about 60m and a dredged depth of 6.5m. A 12m long quay, in 2.5m of water, is situated in the NE part of the lagoon; another quay, 50m long in 5m of water, and landing ramps, were constructed in its E part. The access channel is marked, on each side, by two beacons. There is an abandoned airfield, built to accommodate medium size transport aircraft, on the NE coast of the atoll. It is reported that the pass of Fangataufa is obstructed by a chain boom. This boom can be moved by agreement with the local military authority.
The first recorded European to arrive to Fangataufa Atoll was Frederick William Beechey in 1826. This atoll was inhabited well into the 20th century.
Fangataufa was the site of France's first two-stage thermonuclear test, code named Canopus, detonated on August 24, 1968. The nuclear explosion had a yield of 2.6 megatons. The atoll was also the location of the 1970 914-kiloton Licorne ('Unicorn') test and 2 other atmospheric nuclear tests as well as several underground nuclear tests. Today, Fangataufa serves as a wildlife sanctuary for various species of birds.
Fangataufa is permanently uninhabited. It is classified as a Common Military Zone. The zone includes the lagoon areas enclosed by the atoll and by baselines linking the closest points emerging from the reef on both sides of the channel. Entry is prohibited without authorization.
- Bengt Danielsson, a member of Kon-Tiki crew; an outspoken critic of nuclear testing
- force de frappe
- (French) Archives sur le Centre d'Expérimentations Nucléaires du Pacifique (C.E.P.) à Mururoa, Hao et Fangataufa
- France finally agrees to pay damages to nuclear test victims