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Novaya Zemlya – The Place Where Largest & The Most Powerful Nuclear Weapon Ever Detonated

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Novaia Zemlya or Novaia Zemlya or as Dutch people say Novaia Zembla is a Russian archipelago on the extreme North East of Europe. It was a sensitive military area during Cold War and it is still used today. In particular this place was used to test the explosion of Tsar Bomba the largest most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated.

Novaya Zemlya became the site of some of the world's largest test explosions after the Soviet Union determined that its test site in Kazakhstan was too close to human settlements to test large nuclear weapons. Consisting of two islands approximately 450 km from the Arctic Circle, Novaya Zemlya was inhabited by nomadic peoples and reindeer before nuclear testing started. Roughly 500 people were relocated due to the testing programme. Most of the reindeer either died or were transported to the mainland.

Testing on Novaya Zemlya represents the greatest single source of artificial radioactive contamination in the Arctic.

A total of 130 nuclear tests were conducted there atmospherically, underground, and in the surrounding oceans between 1954 and 1990. Between 20 September and 25 October 1958, 15 bombs were detonated in the atmosphere over Novaya Zemlya. After the signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) in 1963, the first underground test there took place on 15 September 1964. Forty two underground explosions were conducted on the Arctic islands until 24 October 1990. Although the site accounts for only 25 percent of all Soviet testing, the aggregate yield of tests at Novaya Zemlya is estimated at 273 Mt, roughly 94 percent of the total yield for all Soviet tests.

Testing on Novaya Zemlya represents the greatest single source of artificial radioactive contamination in the Arctic. From 1958 to 1962, the large number of high yield atmospheric tests on the islands resulted in radioactive contamination not only on Russian territory but also in Alaska and northern Canada. Norway, located just 900 km away from the islands, also received considerable radioactive fallout and became very concerned about the possibility of the Barents Sea, one of its main fishing areas, becoming polluted. Fallout from all past atmospheric weapons testing is still a major source of plutonium isotopes in the Arctic seas.

The Tsar Bomba  was the largest, most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. It was a hydrogen bomb with a yield of about 50 Mt, detonated on 30 October 1961. The explosion was hot enough to induce third degree burns at distances of 100 km. The flash of light was so bright that it was visible at a distance of 1,000 km, despite cloudy skies. Tsar Bomba caused extensive environmental damage: the ground surface of the island was completely levelled, as were the rocks. Everything in the area was melted and blown away.

Nevertheless, people inhabit this place both civil and military. And here is a set of the life on the islands. Polar bears, huge northern dogs, snow piles of three human heights etc – you've got it all inside:


"Be proud that you serve on the Archipelago Novaia Zemla".

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Military transport planes.

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Soldiers eating collectively.

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Everything they got here is mostly shipped by those huge cargo planes.

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Including the cars.

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Which often get stuck overnight somewhere.

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Just like this.

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Also Read: 16 Things You Should Know About The Worlds Highest Battlefield


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Russian pilots.

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Lots of snow everywhere, including the airplane landing field.

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Polar bears visit local trash bins and dogs have fun.

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Hope you liked this selection!


Read More: Russian Submarine B 396 | An Inside Story


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