Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Montage of images and link description. Race for the Superbomb Imagemap: linked to kids and home
The Film and More
Imagemap(text links below) of menu items
The American Experience
25 Megaton Air Blast: Pressure Damage

Radius of destructive circle: 6.5 miles
12 pounds per square inch

The remains of some buildings' foundations are visible. Some of the strongest buildings -- those made of reinforced, poured concrete -- are still standing. Ninety-eight percent of the population within this area are dead.

Radius: 10.7 miles
5 psi

Virtually everything is destroyed between the 12 and 5 psi rings. The walls of typical multi-story buildings, including apartment buildings, are completely blown out. As you move from the center toward the 5 psi ring there are more structural skeletons of buildings standing. Single-family residences within this this area have been completely blown away -- only their foundations remain. Fifty percent of the population between the 12 and 5 psi rings are dead. Forty percent are injured.

Radius: 20 miles
2 psi

Any single-family residences that are not completely destroyed are heavily damaged. The windows of office buildings have been blown away, as have some of their walls. The contents of these buildings' upper floors, including the people who were working there, are scattered on the street. A substantial amount of debris clutters the entire area. Five percent of the population between the 5 and 2 psi rings are dead. Forty-five percent are injured.

Radius: 30.4 miles
1 psi

Residences are moderately damaged. Commercial buildings have sustained minimal damage. Twenty-five percent of the population between the 2 and 1 psi rings are injured, mainly by flying glass and debris. Many others have been injured from thermal radiation -- the heat generated by the blast. The remaining seventy-five percent are unhurt.

NOTE: This information has been drawn mainly from "The Effects of Nuclear War" (Washington: Office of Technology Assessment, Congress of the United States, 1979). The zones of destruction described on this page are broad generalizations and do not take into account factors such as weather and geography of the target.

See damage from another blast or learn more about fallout and other effects of a nuclear explosion.