Landscape permanence and nuclear warnings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


From the perspective of a human lifetime, the hazards of some nuclear wastes are permanent, so the warnings we place at contaminated nuclear sites must be permanent too. I address questions of how best to provide one hundred centuries of public warning at the first facility for permanent disposal, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. Scenarios of intrusion developed to guide the design of warning markers predicted that most of the changes in the area will be social and cultural. Because blatant and permanent markers will increase, not reduce, the probability of inadvertent intrusion, the most appropriate warning is a "landscape of illusion." Such a landscape needs not permanent surface markers but underground warning devices beneath a soft surface marker. No warning can guarantee deterrence for 10,000 years, however.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-91
Number of pages19
JournalGeographical Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997


  • Landscape
  • Nuclear waste
  • Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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