|Test series||Operation Crosstie
|Test site||Carson National Forest|
|Date||December 10, 1967|
Project Gasbuggy was an underground nuclear detonation carried out by the United States Atomic Energy Commission on December 10, 1967 in rural northern New Mexico. It was part of Operation Plowshare, a program designed to find peaceful uses for nuclear explosions.
Gasbuggy was carried out by the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory and the El Paso Natural Gas Company, with funding from the Atomic Energy Commission. Its purpose was to determine whether controlled nuclear explosions could be useful in loosening rock formations for the sake of natural gas extraction. The site, which is now part of Carson National Forest, is approximately 21 miles southwest of Dulce, New Mexico and 54 miles east of Farmington, and was chosen because natural gas deposits were known to be held in sandstone beneath Leandro Canyon. A 29-kiloton device was placed at a depth of 4,227 feet (1288 meters) underground and detonated; a crowd had gathered to watch, which viewed the detonation from atop a nearby butte.
The explosion was carried out according to plan, detonating successfully and creating an 80-foot-wide (24 meters), 335-foot-deep (102 meters) crater at the site. Wells were drilled and natural gas was extracted from the site. However, the gas proved to be too radioactive to be commercially viable. Highly radioactive material in the area was removed, and the site is now level ground safe to approach at the surface, although drilling or digging in the area is prohibited. In 1978, a placard was installed at the site noting the location of ground zero. The placard is publicly accessible via the dirt road New Mexico F.S. 357/Indian J10 through Carson National Forest.
After Gasbuggy, two further nuclear explosions were carried out as part of Operation Plowshare in the interest of gas extraction, both in Colorado. Devices were detonated as Project Rulison in 1969 and Project Rio Blanco in 1973, both with similar results.
- Peter Metzger (February 22, 1970). Project Gasbuggy And Catch-85*: *That's krypton-85, one of the radioactive by-products of nuclear explosions that release natural gas Project Gasbuggy and Catch-85 "It's 95 per cent safe? We worry about the other 5". New York Times. p. SM14.
- Project Gasbuggy. Popular Mechanics, September 1967.
- A Good Start for Gasbuggy. Time, December 22, 1967.
- Project Gasbuggy, Atomictourist.com. Size and depth as per placard at the site.
- Gasbuggy Nuclear Test Site. Center for Land Use Interpretation. Accessed April 11, 2011.