Nuclear Fossils
Recording the Rhythms of Radioactive Territories

Spring 2020
Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Advised by Malkit Shoshan

Collaboration with Ayaka Yamashita

In the early 2020, it is the first time that used nuclear fuel
are to be disposed of at the Onkalo Nuclear Plant in Finland
and the waste will be contained in the ground and remain
radioactive for 100,000 years. [1]

In 2100, the United Nations declares that all nuclear affected
areas should be covered under soil and never be touched
again until they become safe again in 102020.

In 102020, Exclusion Zones are finally declared as safe. It is
now permitable to go back and explore the past radioactive
exclusion zones.

A lift shaft on the site of the Olkiluoto
nuclear-waste repository, Finland.

A message proposed
in 1993 by the US
Department of Energy to
warn future generations
of nuclear-waste sites

Radioactivity and Sound are both intrusive to

the material bodies
They have similar effects to any objects (living/
Sound, just like radioactivity, enters and
vibrates the molecules of material bodies . . .

sound sorting: 
Collect sounds from fieldwork
Segregate sounds that have unique tones and
Normalize the intensity of sounds (loudness), which
indicates the underground depth of the sounds
Focus on the horizontal distribution of patterns in
the site

When the device hits high
radioactive places, it can detect the
intrinsic sound tones, pitches and
intensity of the place.

Radioactivity Sound
Detector MO284506ON1,
invented in 102019.

listen to sound measurement

listen to sound bug

Sound sample from fieldwork on Site N4E56. 
1. wildlife 2. nuclear plant 3. human life 4. earth

Observed sound bug from sound sample listed above. 

sound bug:
After further analysis, the sound bug was interpreted to be
fragmented sounds preserved in their original sound forms/
qualities from the Nuclear Era! [1896-2100], stored in the
“Nuclear Exclusion Zones”.”
The sound bug were compressed sounds (stretched and
speed changed) from 100,000 years ago. Surprisingly, the
compression rate was 1/500, which, in my opinion, indicates
the scale of 200 years vs. 100,000 years.

frequent/repetitive sounds:
Much of the wildlife that existed in the region was extinct
during 2100-102020.
constant sounds:
Radioactivity has been spread out in the soil through the
Nuclear Exclusion Zones

patterns of sound:
People’s life and Nuclear plant: Rare to
detect (not frequent)
Wildlife: Frequent and repetitive
Earth: Constant sounds

The nuclear archaeologist AB, conducting fieldwork in Radioactive Landscapes, March 102020.


It is important not only to unreveal the origins of the individual sounds, but also understand those sounds collectively.
“the temporality of the taskscape, while it is intrinsic rather than externally imposed (metronomic), lies not in any particular rhythm, but in the network of interrelationships
between the multiple rhythms of which the taskscape is itself constituted. -Tim Ingold
The sounds exist only because there were the 200 years of the Nuclear Era. If we consider that noises from that era still stain our planet after 100,000years, what can be our lesson
from that?
Connecting to the sound study: While the recording is useful scientifically and historically, it is also interesting to think that the sounds themselves are like “Sound Object” because they cannot be connected easily to the sound sources.