[ RadSafe ] Bikini Atoll's Nuked Coral Reef Bounces Back to Life

Perle, Sandy sperle at mirion.com
Sun Apr 20 17:30:24 CDT 2008

Bikini Atoll's Nuked Coral Reef Bounces Back to Life

(FNS) Apr 20 - Half a century after the atomic blasts that devastated
Bikini Atoll, vast expanses of corals in the area seem to be flourishing
once again, much to the surprise of scientists.
American government scientists detonated a hydrogen bomb on the tiny
island (a part of the Marshall Islands in the western Pacific) on March
1, 1954, and about 20 other nuclear tests were carried out on the atoll
between 1946 and 1958.

Many of the natives were moved to Kili Island and today are compensated
by the United States government.
Code-named Castle Bravo, the hydrogen bomb was the most powerful nuclear
weapon ever exploded at the time at 15 megatons, making it 1,000 times
more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in World War II.
The massive explosion vaporized everything on three islands in the
atoll, raised water temperatures to 55,000 degrees and left a crater
that was 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) wide and 240 feet (73 meters) deep.
A team of scientists recently led a diving expedition into Bravo Crater
and found an unexpectedly thriving coral community.

"I didn't know what to expect - some kind of moonscape perhaps. But it
was incredible, huge matrices of branching Porites coral (up to 8 meters
[25 feet] high) had established, creating a thriving coral reef
habitat," said study team member Zoe Richards of the Australian Research
Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook

"Throughout other parts of the lagoon it was awesome to see coral cover
as high as 80 percent and large tree-like branching coral formations
with trunks 30 centimeters [12 inches] thick."
A nearby atoll is likely seeding the coral recovery, the scientists
think, and because the island is rarely visited, the coral is left to
Richards said that the healthy condition of the Bikini corals was a sign
of the resilience of corals after a major disturbance, if left
undisturbed to recuperate.
The news wasn't all good however, as there was a disturbingly high level
of loss of coral species from around the atoll.

Forty-two species of corals are missing compared to a study made before
the atomic tests were carried out.
Though ambient radiation readings are fairly low at Bikini, radioactive
material accumulates in the soil and in produce such as coconuts, making
them unsafe to eat.
It is unlikely that the Bikini natives will be able to return to the
atoll in the near future, the scientists said.

Sander C. Perle 
Mirion Technologies, Inc., Dosimetry Service Division
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614

Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714 ext 2306
Fax:(949) 296-1144

Mirion Technologies Website: http://www.mirion.com
Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com

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