Nuclear weapons: fallout levels after 24 hours by distance

Hypothetical radiation level accumulated at various distances downwind from ground zero of a one megaton ground level nuclear explosion

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Release date

February 1982



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Supplementary notes

A one megaton explosion is equivalent to the force that would be created from the explosion of 1,000,000 tons of TNT. For context, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever created and tested had a blast yield of 50-58 megatons.

Estimates are based on the assumption that 50% of the explosion energy was derived from fission, and that there was a steady wind of 15 miles per hour. In practice, changes in wind speed and direction would cause significant variations in radiation levels.

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