Orders of Magnitude

                                                    Patrick Healy Moran, MIT

The energy content of bombs and explosions is measured in equivalent tons of TNT. A one-kiloton explosion is equivalent to detonating one-thousand tons of TNT, also a one-megaton is equivalent of one-million tons of TNT. The explosion of one ton of TNT releases approximatly 4.2 × 1012 joules of energy; for comparison, it takes almost 6.0 ×104 joules to warm up a cup of coffee. The Trinity test, a plutonium fueled bomb had an estimated yield of 21 kilotons, and left a crater 2.9 meters deep and 335 meters wide.

Explosive Yield (tons of TNT)   Event Notes
1.30E-05 « 1 kT Fireworks Roman Candle (Class 1.4G pyrotechnic)
1.20E-04 « 1 kT M67 grenade Commonly-used hand grenade
1.00E-03 « 1 kT Rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) RPG-7 with GTB-7G round
5.00E-01 0.0005 kT Tomahawk Cruise Missile  
1.10E+01 0.011 kT GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) “The Mother of All Bombs”
Most powerful non-nuclear explosive ever used in combat. Used by the United States in Afghanistan in April 2017.
1.50E+04 15 kT Little Boy Dropped by the United States on Hiroshima, Japan on 6 August 1945
2.00E+04 20 kT Fat Man Dropped by the United States on Nagasaki, Japan on 9 August 1945
39,000-80,000 deaths
1.30E+07 13 MT 1 typical nuclear submarine  
2.40E+07 24 MT Eruption of Mount St. Helens 1980 volcanic eruption in Washington, USA
5.00E+07 50 MT Tsar Bomba Hydrogen bomb tested by the USSR in October 1961
Largest bomb ever detonated
1.40E+10 14,000 MT Total combined US and Russian nuclear arsenals  
1.00E+14 100,000,000 MT Chicxulub Impact Asteroid impact that lead to KT extinction


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