September 2017 Meeting

Monday, September 11, 2017
6:00 - 7:30 pm

Pellissippi State Technical Community College
10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville
J.L Goins Administration Building


A Trip To Ground Zero
The Trinity Site Today

R. C. (Dick) Merrill
Petroleum Consultant and Aviation Archeologist, Retired
Chuckey, Tennessee


The final product of the Manhattan Project was a deliverable nuclear bomb. Two types of bombs were developed, one used enriched Uranium and the other used Plutonium. Project engineers and scientists did not feel a test of the uranium bomb was practical or necessary but with the unknowns surrounding a plutonium bomb, a test was required. The test for the plutonium bomb was given the code name "Trinity". It took place July 16, 1945, in the northern New Mexico desert about 105 miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico in an area called Jornada del Muerto. This area is now part of the White Sands Missile Test Range.

Twice a year, the Alamogordo chamber of commerce along with the cooperation of the White Sands proving grounds, allows access to the heavily restricted area that contains the former Trinity test site. My trip to Trinity took place in the fall of 2001. This presentation will share 2001 photographs as well as historical archive photographs, discuss the necessity of the test and technical reasons for the bomb design, and a brief discussion of the test area geology.


Mr. Merrill is a retired petroleum geologist with a BS degree in geology from Ohio State and a MS degree in geology from Brigham Young University. He has worked in the Oil and Gas industry for 50 years and the last ten years as a consulting geologist in Houston, TX. He and his wife Virginia, both pilots, live on an airpark in Chuckey, TN. In his spare time, he researches early aviation navigation facilities and is slowly attempting to complete a geologic map of the Chuckey USGS quadrangle.


Page updated May 26, 2018