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Coordinates: 22°15′S 138°45′W / 22.25°S 138.75°W / -22.25; -138.75

The satellite view of Fangataufa Atoll shows the dark blue depths of the induced crater. Courtesy NASA.

Fangataufa (Fangatafoa) is a small, low, narrow, coral atoll in the eastern side of the Tuamotu Archipelago. Along with its neighboring atoll, Moruroa, it has been the site of approximately 200 nuclear bomb tests.

Access to the lagoon is through a pass lying 0.5 mile SW of the northernmost point of the atoll; the channel has a width of about 60m and a dredged depth of 6.5m. A 12m long quay, in 2.5m of water, is situated in the NE part of the lagoon; another quay, 50m long in 5m of water, and landing ramps, were constructed in its E part. The access channel is marked, on each side, by two beacons. There is an abandoned airfield, built to accommodate medium size transport aircraft, on the NE coast of the atoll. It is reported that the pass of Fangataufa is obstructed by a chain boom. This boom can be moved by agreement with the local military authority.

Contents

History

The first recorded European to arrive to Fangataufa Atoll was Frederick William Beechey in 1826. This atoll was inhabited well into the 20th century.

Fangataufa was the site of France's first two-stage thermonuclear test, code named Canopus, detonated on August 24, 1968. The nuclear explosion had a yield of 2.6 megatons. The atoll was also the location of 3 other atmospheric nuclear tests as well as several underground nuclear tests. Today, Fangataufa serves as a wildlife sanctuary for various species of birds.

Fangataufa is permanently uninhabited. It is classified as a Common Military Zone. The zone includes the lagoon areas enclosed by the atoll and by baselines linking the closet points emerging from the reef on both sides of the channel. Entry is prohibited without authorization.

Administration

Administratively Fangataufa Atoll is part of the commune of Tureia, which includes the atolls of Tureia, Moruroa, Tematangi and Vanavana. It was ceded to France for nuclear tests in 1964.

References

See also

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