Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

Shake, Rattle, and Roll

Los Alamos scientists analyze North Korea’s January 2016 “hydrogen bomb” test to determine the details—location, yield, and type—of the explosion.
March 22, 2016
Shake, Rattle, and Roll

South Korean protesters burned placards of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un during an anti-North Korea rally on January 7, 2016, in Seoul, South Korea. Kim Jong-Un claimed that North Korea had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb the previous day. (Photo: Getty Images)


  • Managing Editor
  • Clay Dillingham
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“When it hits the fan, the government is counting on us—and we deliver.” —Terry Wallace, Principal Associate Director for Global Security

Around 10 a.m. Pyongyang Time on Wednesday, January 6, 2016, seismic analysts around the world picked up something unusual—a 5.1-magnitude seismic event in the northeast corner of North Korea. Earthquakes of this size aren’t common on the Korean Peninsula, which likely meant the violent shaking was caused by something else: an explosion.

Enter Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Los Alamos isn’t just in the business of developing, testing, and maintaining explosives. A significant part of the Laboratory’s mission is to evaluate global seismic data to identify and locate possible nuclear explosions.