If you are on a beach in South Japan, it's possible you are standing on what was once Hiroshima

Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine located on the island popularly called Miyajima, in Hiroshima Prefecture, JapanPxhere

  • The ‘worst man made event ever, by far’ — the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima — can be found strewn along the beaches in South Japan.
  • A new study finds that 2.5% of the sand on the beaches around Hiroshima is actually nuclear debris — or what’s left of the city.
  • As the nuclear bomb went off, Hiroshima’s buildings, roads and benches were turned to dust before raining down on the peninsula as teardrop-shared glass particles.
A beach can stand for many things — like spring break or summer vacation — but in Southern Japan, the sandy shores have a darker story to tell.

Hiroshima, the Japanese city that was annihilated with a nuclear bomb during the second world war, can still be found strewn along the beaches in glass particles along with the sand, according to a study published in Anthropocene.

Hiroshima city and bay area with location of the A-bomb hypocenter. (Inset maps: sampling sites at Motoujina <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/peninsula" title="Learn more about Peninsula from ScienceDirect's AI-generated Topic Pages">Peninsula</a> and Miyajima Island)Google Earth/Anthropocene

Mario Wannier, the retired geologist and lead author of the study, asserts that 2.5% of the sand along the beaches around Hiroshima could actually be debris from the ‘worst man made event ever, by far’.

You have a city, and a minute later you have no city.

Mario Wannier, retired geologist and lead author of study published in Anthropocene

Dark rain with memories

The bomb called ‘ Little Boy’ was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. And as the mushroom cloud went up, it took 70,000 people with it and made the entire city disappear in an instant.

Atomic mushroom cloud over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945The National Archives Catalog

In all that chaos, the brick buildings, iron hoardings, and concrete roads — now demolished into tiny little particles — were swept up into the air. And, as those pieces cooled down, they rained down upon the peninsula in tiny teardrop-shaped glass particles.

There was the question of: 'Where is the city ­­– where is the material?

Mario Wannier, retired geologist and lead author of study published in Anthropocene

Wannier and his team found over 10,000 samples one these millimeter sized fragments dubbing them ‘Hiroshimaites’. They write, “Somehow, in this situation of extreme emergency, the question of the whereabouts of the vanished urban built structures was not addressed.”

Even though their hypothesis is difficult to prove, Wannier says that it's the only “coherent explanation” for how these glass particles came into existence.

The 'Hiroshimaite' samples collected by the research teamAnthropocene

It’s not just the buildings that were turned to dust within seconds but the people as well. The many ‘ nuclear shadows’ across Hiroshima are proof of the atomic bomb’s intense heat.

One of the shadows — a person sitting at the entrance of one of the banks in the city — has even been dubbed the ‘ Shadow of Death’.

This is the first time anyone’s found nuclear debris like this in an urban setting.

See also:
If a nuclear bomb is dropped on your city, here's where you should run and hide

Declassified photos show the US's final preparations for the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Here's what the 'Little Boy' atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima would do to major American cities
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