A ground burst is the detonation of an explosive device such as an artillery shell, nuclear weapon or air-dropped bomb that explodes upon hitting the ground. These weapons are set off by (fuses) that are activated when the weapon strikes the ground or something equally hard, such as a concrete building.
In the context of a nuclear weapon, a ground burst is a detonation on the ground, in shallow water, or below the fallout-free altitude. This condition produces substantial amounts of nuclear fallout. An air burst or a deep subterranean detonation, by contrast, makes little fallout.
Ground shock, or water shock will result from nuclear explosions on (or near) the surface of ground or water. The ground shock can damage or destroy hardened structures. In water, the shock is damaging to nearby vessels and may also produce a surface wave to limited ranges. A crater is formed by an explosion at (or near) the ground surface. The size of the crater depends on the type of ground material and how close to the ground surface the explosion occurs.
- National Research Council (2005). Effects of Nuclear Earth-Penetrator and Other Weapons. National Academies Press. ISBN 9780309096737. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
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