So, I'm coming up with a world in which, after a nuclear war in Africa, there is a bunker in the country of Chad. The landscape has been affected by over 50 atomic bombs. The main characters leave the bunker as the radioactivity has mostly worn off (after 100-something years), and I want them to discover a harsh, warped environment. What would the most extreme topographical effects of an atomic bomb be on a Saharan or Sahelian environment be?

  • How would the landscape change? Would it flatten? Would it crack? Would it create strange landforms?
  • How would the landscape's composition change? Would the sand turn to rock or glass?
  • How would climate be effected? Would it become colder or hotter? Would precipitation levels change?
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    $\begingroup$ One atomic bomb, or two, or ten, or twenty will have about zero effect on the landscape, climate etc. After 100 years you would need specialized equipment to determine where the bombs detonated. (Fun factoid: in the 1960s and 1970s France detonated dozens of atomic bombs in the Sahara. The climate of the Sahara did not change, there are no gigantic craters, and by and large nothing much happened; which is why you haven't heard of those tests. Do the names Reggane and Ekker mean anything to you?) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! I'll edit the question. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ P.S. The area of Chad is about 1/3 of the area of the USA, or 2/5 of the area of the contiguous 48 states... Just to put things in perspective when you say that there is a bunker somewhere in Chad. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, I know this. I wanted to make it rather unspecific, mostly for plot reasons. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 18:31

1 Answer 1


A large enough nuclear airblast will "glassify" sandy desert directly under it. The molten layer is very thin, and will soon crumble under normal weather, but will still be recognizable for what it is 100 years later.

There will still be detectable radiation spots near the blasts, but they would need quite sensitive equipment. The radiation would be way, way, way under dangerous levels. If the explosions were groundlevel or below ground explosions, then there would be a visible crater and significant radiation, even after 100 years. Likely not dangerous any more, but much more easily detectable.

'Trinitite', from the first nuclear blast 'Trinitite', from the first nuclear blast


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