Above: raw data released by America so far on the Starfish EMP consists of the graph on the left based on a measurement by Richard L. Above: locations of test aircraft which suffered EMP damage during Operation Fishbowl in 1962. Above: if we ignore the late-time MHD-EMP mechanism (which takes seconds to minutes to peak and has extremely low frequencies) there are three EMP mechanisms at play in determining the radiated EMP as a function of burst altitude.
Above: EMP waveform for all times (logarithmic axes) and frequency spectra for a nominal high altitude detonation (P. Above: the measured late-time MHD-EMP at Hawaii, 1,500 km from the Starfish test, was stronger than at Johnston Island (directly below the burst!) because of the ionized X-ray patch of conductive air below the bomb, which shielded Johnston Island.
Above: area coverage by the first (fast or 'magnetic dipole mechanism') peak EMP and by the second (slow or 'magneto-hydrodynamic, MHD-EMP, mechanism') for a 10-20 kt single stage (pure fission) thin-cased burst at 150 km altitude. Above: the 2004 Commission report on EMP includes this map of the EMP from the solar storm on 13 March 1989 which had effects similar to a weak MHD-EMP and the auroral EMP (caused by a fraction of the debris fireball and charged particle radiation which moves along magnetic field lines between conjugate points in different hemispheres).
Prompt gamma ray-produced EMP induced a current of 2,500 amps measured by spark gaps in a 570-km stretch of 500 ohm impedance overhead telephone line to Zharyq, blowing all the protective fuses. Wakefield's curve above, although it suffers from many instrument problems, explained EMP damage on Hawaii some 1,300 km from the burst point - see map below. Wakefield in a C-130 aircraft 1,400 km East-South-East of the detonation, with a CHAP (code for high altitude pulse) Longmire computer simulation for that curve both with and without instrument response corrections (taken from Figure 9 of the book EMP Interaction, online edition), and the graph on the right which is Longmire's CHAP calculation of the EMP at Honolulu, 1,300 km East-North-East of the detonation (page 7 of Longmire's report EMP technical note 353, March 1985). In 1958 tests Teak and Orange, there was hardly any information at all due to both this instrumentation problem and missile errors. Dittmer et al., DNA EMP Course Study Guide, Defense Nuclear Agency, DNA Report DNA-H-86-68-V2,May 1986). Dr Longmire explained Wakefield's curve by a brand new EMP theory called the 'magnetic dipole mechanism' - a fancy name for the deflection at high altitudes of electrons by the Earth's natural magnetic dipole field. The original plan for the Starfish test is declassified here, and the first report on the effects is declassified here.


On the island of Kauai, EMP closed down telephone calls to the other islands despite the 1962 sturdy relay (electromechanical) telephone technology, by damaging the microwave diode in the electronic microwave link used to connect the telephone systems between different Hawaiian islands (because of the depth of the ocean between the islands, the use of undersea cables was impractical).
This motion of charge constitutes a large time-varying electric current which emits the final pulse of EMP, which travels around the world.
If the Starfish Prime warhead had been detonated over the northern continental United States, the magnitude of the EMP would have been about 2.4 times larger because of the stronger magnetic field over the USA which deflects Compton electrons to produce EMP, while the much longer power lines over the USA would pick up a lot more EMP energy than the short power lines in Hawaiian islands, and finally the 1962 commonplace electronic 'vacuum tubes' or 'triode valves' (used before transistors and microchips became common) which could survive 1-2 Joules of EMP, have now been completely replaced by modern semiconductor microchips which are millions of times times more sensitive to EMP (burning out at typically 1 microJoule of EMP energy or less), simply because they pack millions of times more components into the same space, so the over-heating problem is far worse for a very sudden EMP power surge (rising within a microsecond). The second (negative) pulse of the late-time EMP is bigger in the case of the Starfish test, because it is unshielded: this large negative pulse is simply due to the auroral effect of the ionized fireball rising and moving along the earth's magnetic field lines.
MHD-EMP has serious effects for long conductors because its extremely low frequencies (ELF) can penetrate a lot further into the ground than higher frequencies can, as proved by its effect on a long buried power line during the nuclear test of a 300 kt warhead at 290 km altitude on 22 October 1962 near Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan (as part of some Russian ABM system proof tests). This motion of ionized fission product debris constitutes a large varying electric current for a high yield burst like Starfish, and as a result of this varying current, the accelerating charges radiate an EMP signal which can peak at a minute or so after detonation. In this test, prompt gamma ray-produced EMP induced a current of 2,500 amps measured by spark gaps in a 570-km stretch of overhead telephone line out to Zharyq, blowing all the protective fuses.
NOBEL LAUREATE FAILED TO PREDICT THE SEVERE EMP MECHANISMIn October 1957, Nobel Laureate Dr Hans A. Similar effects from the Russian 300 kt nuclear test at 290 km altitude over Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan on 22 October 1962 induced enough current in a 1,000 km long protected underground cable to burn the Karaganda power plant to the ground. Bethe's report, "Electromagnetic Signal Expected from High-Altitude Test" (Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory report LA-2173, secret-restricted data), predicted incorrectly that only a weak electromagnetic pulse (EMP) would be produced by a nuclear detonation in space or at very high altitude, due to vertical oscillations resulting from the downward-travelling hemisphere of radiation. Dr Lowell Wood testified on 8 March 2005 during Senate Hearings 109-30 that these MHD-EMP effects are: 'the type of damage which is seen with transformers in the core of geomagnetic storms. A1-27.The illustration of Richard Wakefield's EMP measurement from the Starfish test is based on the unclassified reference is K. The geomagnetic storm, in turn, is a very tepid, weak flavor of the so-called slow component of EMP.
Then, after those neutrons are slowed down a lot by successive inelastic scattering in the air (releasing gamma rays each time), they are finally captured by the nuclei of nitrogen atoms, which causes gamma rays to be emitted and a further EMP signal which adds to the gamma rays from decaying fission product debris.


So when those transformers are subjected to the slow component of the EMP, they basically burn, not due to the EMP itself but due to the interaction of the EMP and normal power system operation. Williamson who was at Kwajalein Atoll when Starfish was detonated in 1962, has an informed page about EMP protection here.But it is not even all one-sided doom and gloom! Full calculations of EMP as a function of burst altitude are also online in pages 33 and 36 of Louis W.
Department of Defense Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Nuclear Weapon Effects Test, Evaluation, and Simulation, page 29.). Wakefield's measurement - the only one at the extremely high frequency that measured the peak EMP with some degree of success, was an attempt to measure the time-interval between the first and secondary stage explosions in the weapon (the fission primary produces one pulse of gamma rays, which subsides before the final thermonuclear stage signal).
Defense Threat Reduction Agency who states that either the 1958 Teak or Orange shot caused unexpected EMP induced power cuts on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands:'As it was, one of those two high altitude shots [Teak and Orange, August 1958] did affect the power grid on Oahu, knocking out quite a bit of it.
That was unexpected.'Oahu is 71 km long by 48 km wide, and power cables could have picked up significant EMP, especially the MHD-EMP effect caused by fireball expansion.
But I shall have more to say about this later on, particularly after reviewing extensive Russian EMP experiences with long shallow-buried power lines and long overhead telephone lines which Dr Rabinowitz did not know about in 1987 when writing the critical report. But it was on the 9 July 1962, during the American Starfish shot, a 1.4 Mt warhead missile-carried to an altitude of 400 km, that EMP damage at over 1300 km east was seen, and the Starfish space burst EMP waveform was measured by Richard Wakefield. Cameras were used to photograph oscilloscope screens, showing the EMP pickup in small aerials. Longmire's theory is therefore called the 'magnetic dipole' EMP mechanism, to distinguish it from Bethe's 'electric dipole' mechanism.



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