Small Quake Rattles North Korea Nuclear Testing Grounds, Not Manmade: South Korea

Cheryl Sanders
October 13, 2017

The agency says Friday's magnitude 2.7 quake was 54 kilometers (0.62 miles) northwest of the town of Kilju in northeastern North Korea.

South Korea has detected a fourth small quake near North Korea's main nuclear test site after the country's sixth and most powerful nuclear test explosion last month. However, the South Korean experts have said that the tremor did not appear to be man-made.

The quake took place at 16.41 UTC (5.41am NZT) at a depth of 5km, the US Geological Survey reported.

Seismic activity does not always indicate a nuclear test.

Kim So-gu, head researcher at the Korea Seismological Institute, said: "The explosion from the September 3 test had such power that the existing tunnels within the underground testing site might have caved in". In July, North Korea carried out two tests of ballistic missiles, and on August 29 and September 15 it launched two missiles, which flew over Japan's territory. "I think the Punggye-ri region is now pretty saturated".

A small quake on September 23 was thought to be an aftershock of the nuclear test earlier in the month.

The last time a weapon was detonated at the site, a magnitude-6.3 quake was detected. These disturbances are more numerous and widespread than seen after any of the North's previous tests, 38 North said.

Hong Tae-kyung, a professor of earth system science at Yonsei University in Seoul, said: "The reason why Punggye-ri has become North Korea's nuclear testing field is because this area was considered stable and rarely saw tremors in the past".

The China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC) said the event may have been caused by an artificial explosion, but the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Lassina Zerbo said the quake was unlikely to be manmade. The authorities added that the epicentre of the quake was located north of the Punggye-Ri testing site.

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