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U.S. Geological Survey Crustal Studies Technical Letter Number 6

In cooperation with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Fish Kill from Underwater Explosions

By David J. Stuart


Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (12.8 MB)Summary

The U.S. Geological Survey has used 23 different shotpoints during two seasons of field work in our seismic study of crustal structure in western United States. Without exception, it has been found that under-water shotpoints result in a more efficient conversion of explosive energy into seismic energy than do drilled-hole shotpoints. This experience, together with elimination of drilling costs, has led to the use of underwater shotpoints wherever possible.

Three of the 23 shotpoints were in the Pacific Ocean, and for these we have no detailed information on the fish kill. Another six shotpoints were located in inland bodies of water. These are:

•   Soda Lake near Fallon, Nevada
•   Mono Lake near Lee Vining, California
•   Lake Mead near Boulder City, Nevada
•   Shasta Lake near Redding, California
•   C.J. Strike Reservoir near Bruneau, Idaho
•   Lucky Peak Reservoir near Boise, Idaho

The 22 high-explosive charges, weighing a total of 95,100 pounds, that were fired in lakes containing fish life resulted in the known death of 2,413 game fish with a total weight of 759 pounds. The average mortality was 110 game fish or 34.5 pounds of game fish killed per average shot of 4,325 pounds of high-explosives.

  • This report is available only on the Web.

For additional information:
Contact Information, Earthquake Science Center, Menlo Park Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road, MS 977
Menlo Park, California 94025

This report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Stuart, D.J., 1962, Fish kill from underwater explosions: U.S. Geological Survey Crustal Studies Technical Letter Number 6, 8 p. (Available at



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