Joint Royal Navy Scientific service
Blast is a general term used to convery the effect produced when an explosive is detonated in any medium. Blast-produced injury implies those detrimental changes occurring in an organism whilst it is being subjected to the pressure field produced by an explosion, whether such changes are produced directly or indirectly by the explosive phenomena. This article examines briefly the physical and pathophysiological effects of blasts resulting from detonations in air and in water. Air blast is further subdivided into blast form conventional and nuclear explosions. Detonation produces a high speed chemical decomposition of a solid or liquid explosive into gas. Almost instantaneously the space previously occupied by the explosive is filled with gas and there is a release of large amounts of thermal energy. The hot gaseous products develop a very high pressure which is transmitted to the surrounding medium and propagated in all directions as a shockwave, travelling at about the speed of sound. Typically this is a steep-fronted wave rising in a few microseconds and decaying over a period of milliseconds, depending upon the nature of the explosive and the medium which surrounds it. These also determine the character of the shock pulse and the subsequent phenomena.
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