Nuclear monitoring facility operational

A box containing electronics that collect data sitting on the ground surrounded by small rocks in the Vestfold Hills
The ISO3 sensing array consists of seven sensing nodes (one pictured here) that detect infrasound frequencies generated by atmospheric disturbances, including nuclear explosions. Each node consists of a wind noise reduction system connected to a central vault containing the electronics that record the data. (Photo: Sara Pearce)
An array vault box installed on site.Location of the IS03 site (array of green circles around the square) and the cable runs (blue lines) back to Davis.Schematic of a typical array site showing the vault (square box) and rosettes which reduce wind noise and detect the infrasound.A small building housing the uninterruptible power supply for the infrasound in a snow-covered landscape.

The Davis Infrasound Facility (IS03), which monitors nuclear explosions in the atmosphere, was made operational last Friday after being officially certified by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO).

Certification and acceptance of IS03 completes Australia’s obligation under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty of establishing and operating 21 facilities in Australia, including the Australian Antarctic Territory.

Data generated by the facility is now available for integration into the International Monitoring System (IMS) — a system of 337 facilities around the world that verify compliance to the Treaty.

During the 2017–18 summer season a Geoscience Australia field team, supported by the Australian Antarctic Division, installed and commissioned a seven sensor array and associated power and fibre optic cabling to the Central Power Distribution Facility, which was constructed and commissioned in 2016–17.

Over the six months since the installation was completed, Geoscience Australia and the Australian Antarctic Division, in coordination with the CTBTO, performed the initial testing and validation of the facility. This included the recording, monitoring and evaluation of data generated by the facility, and validation of the state-of-health monitoring of the remote site, to ensure the reliability and quality of the data provided to the IMS.

This 2018–19 season, personnel from both Geoscience Australia and the Antarctic Division’s Antarctic Infrastructure section will perform minor works on site to finalise the installation and commence the operational maintenance phase of this program.