Underground nuclear explosives create vertical cylindrical rubble-filled cavities in the earth, called chimneys. These chimneys have a practically infinite permeability and a usable void space, depending on the size and depth of the explosive charge. Chimneys created this way in impervious rock media can be used as storage systems for liquids or gases; this paper deals only with the latter kind.

A hypothetical market located in the Midwest Ins been selected as the basis for a model study. The paper touches on matters of nuclear technology but concentrates on the solution of the storage requirements. A realistic construction time schedule and a cost analysis for a nuclear storage system will be discussed.

In comparing underground pore-space gas storage systems with the nuclear alternative, overall advantages of the latter are outlined.


Deeply-buried underground nuclear explosions in competent rock create cylindrical rubble-filled caverns, called chimneys. There have been more than 150 underground nuclear explosions and the phenomenology is well known. (Fig. 1)

The detonation generates extremely high temperatures of the order of 20 million deg. F and pressures of about 16 billion psi. The instant following the detonation, the explosive package and surrounding rock are vaporized package and surrounding rock are vaporized and the high pressure pushes the wall of the resulting spherical cavity outward. As the cavity cools, the vapor phase gives way to one in which the cavity wall melts and the molten rock runs to die bottom. The outward movement of the cavity wag continues and the tremendous shock wave fractures a large zone around the cavity. This whole sequence takes place in a fraction of a second. place in a fraction of a second.

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