Complete Report on Failure Analysis of World Trade Center 5

Kevin J. LaMalva
Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Inc.

This research involves a failure analysis of the internal structural collapse that occurred in World Trade Center 5 due to fire exposure alone on September 11, 2001. It is hypothesized that the steel column-tree assembly failed during the heating phase of the fire. Abaqus/Standard was used to predict the structural performance of the assembly when exposed to the fire. Results from a finite element, thermal-stress model confirms this hypothesis, for it is concluded that the catastrophic, progressive structural collapse occurred approximately 2 hours into the fire exposure.

Collapse, Coupled Analysis, Failure, Fire, Heat Transfer, Interface Friction, Structural, Thermal-Stress, World Trade Center (WTC)

1. Background
World Trade Center 5 (WTC 5) was a nine-story building in the World Trade Center complex in New York City, NY (Figure 1). On September 11, 2001, flaming debris from the World Trade Center Tower collapses ignited fires in WTC 5. These fires burned unchecked, ultimately causing a localized interior collapse from the 8th floor to the 4th floor in the eastern section of the building (Figure 2). Debris impact was not a direct factor in this failure; the collapse was caused by fire alone.
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Minneapolis I-35W Bridge Collapse – Engineering Evaluations and Finite Element Analysis

by Carl R. Schultheisz, Alan S. Kushner (National Transportation Safety Board), Toshio Nakamura (State University of New York, Stony Brook), Justin Ocel (Federal Highway Administration), William Wright (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) and Min Li (SIMULIA Central)

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates accidents to identify the probable cause and to make recommendations that would prevent similar accidents. Following the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis on August 1, 2007, the NTSB worked with the Federal Highway Administration, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and other parties with information and expertise, including SIMULIA Central, to determine the circumstances that contributed to the collapse of the bridge, completing the investigation in 15 months. The NTSB concluded that the collapse of the bridge was caused by the inadequate load capacity of gusset plates used to connect the truss members, as a result of an error by the bridge design firm, Sver-drup & Parcel and Associates, Inc. The loading conditions included a combination of (1) substantial increases in the weight of the bridge caused by previous bridge modifications, and (2) the traffic and concentrated construction loads on the bridge on the day of the collapse. Evidence from the collapsed bridge structure, engineering evaluations of the design, and results from the finite element analyses used to support the investigation are reviewed.

Keywords: Bridge Collapse, Gusset Plate, Plasticity, Instability, Riks, Fasteners.
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Socio Economic Impact Of Failure Of Transmission Line Tower Foundations

A report by Christian Johnson and Thirugnanam

Transmission line towers are constructed for power evacuation purpose from generating stations to various load centers. Though they are considered to be the most stable and versatile semi-permanent structure, often they collapse due to failure of foundations, disrupting transfer of large blocks of power affecting the society to a larger extent. A brief review of literature on failure of transmission line tower foundations have been made and Case study involving data collection and visual inspection of transmission line tower foundation apart from diagnosis of transmission line tower stubs and laboratory experimentations have been presented. Based on the literature review and the case study undertaken as a part of the research, three predominant causes leading to failure of transmission line tower foundations have been discussed. Socio – economic impact of failure of transmission line tower foundations have been discussed. Remedial measures found through the research study for preventing failure of transmission line tower foundations have been briefly outlined.

Corrosion, Foundations, Failure, socio- economic, transmission line tower
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Failure Analysis Of Mishap At DMRC On 12 July

It was 12th July 2009 which proved to be the darkest day in the history of DMRC. After achieving a milestone of providing a reliable and easy mean of transportation to the capital of India, it is now facing huge problems which are not only causing loss of human lives but also causing immense damage to the most reputed infrastructure organization of India. So far, this company has achieved every target ahead of schedule under the excellent guidance of Mr. Sreedharan.

Let us try understanding what went wrong on that disastrous day

On 12th July, 2009, while lifting segments of the superstructure, an accident happened in the Badarpur – Secretariat section near P-67. The pier cap of pier P-67 got collapsed causing subsequent collapse of the
(i) Launching Girder
(ii) Span between P-66 and P-67 which had got erected and pre-stressed, already
(iii) Segments of the superstructure for the span between P-67 and P-68.

The incident left 6 people dead and many injured.

Site Investigation
After visiting the site, following observations were noticed
1. The pier cap of affected pier (P-67) has sheared from the connection point of the pier and pier
cap. It is a cantilever pier cap. It was informed by the contractor and DMRC representatives that the support system for viaductwas initially designed as portal pier till the casting of the pier was over. The shop owners put up resistance against casting of the other leg of the portal and it was subsequently decided by DMRC that this would be changed to a cantilever pier, similar to P-68 which is still standing at site.

metro collapse Pier fall

2. It was noticed that the prop support of the cantilever has failed from its connection to the pier.

3. The top reinforcement of the cantilever beam does not have any development length into pier
concrete. As learned from the sources, the top reinforcement of the cantilever beam had an “L”
bend of 500 mm only.


There is very nominal (or no trace) of shear reinforcement at the juncture.

4. The launching girder has fallen below with the failure of pier cap. Also, the span between P-67
and P-68 has fallen inclined, supported by the ground at one end and pier cap (P-68) on the


5. The boom of the crane, used for lifting the launching girder on 13 July, 2009, has failed in bending
and shows clear sign of overloading.


i. The pier (P-67) was initially designed as a leg of a portal frame and subsequently changed to support cantilever pier cap.

ii. The same method was followed for P-68 and P-66.

iii. The alignment of track here is in curvature and gradually leaves the median of the road to align on one side of the road.

iv. The longitudinal reinforcement of the pier was protruding by around 1500 mm beyond top of pier.

v. The top reinforcement of pier cap was 36 mm in diameter and had a development length of 500 mm. only as an “L” from the top. There was insufficient bond length for the structure to behave like a cantilever beam.

vi. During launching operation of the launching girder itself, this pier cap developed crack and work was stopped for couple of months. During this period, the cantilever pier cap was grouted in crack areas and further strengthened by introducing prop or jacketing.

vii. However, the behavior of the structure changed due to introduction of this jacket and the cantilever pier cap remained no more cantilever.

viii. The segments of superstructure for the span between P-66 and P-67 was erected and launched and the prop beam / jacketing could sustain the load to that extend.

ix. During the launching of superstructure segments between P-67 and P-68, only 6 segments could be lifted and the whole system collapsed when seventh segment was hooked for lifting.

The sequence of failure is as follows:
a. The support of the prop / jacket got sheared from its connection due to inadequate section / welding.

b. The cantilever pier cap which was behaving as a simply supported beam due to introduction of prop / jacket started behaving like a cantilever beam suddenly after failure of the prop which it can not sustain ( It was inadequately designed). So, the so called “cantilever pier cap” collapsed.

c. The launching girder / span between P-67 & P-66 / the temporarily erected segments between P-67 and P-68, all got collapsed in one go.

Crane Failure
The launching girder was lifted by the cranes. However, it needed to be pushed little forward for
unloading it on the ground. So, all the cranes were asked to stretch there booms by some length.
During this operation, the 250 MT capacity crane on extreme left exceeded it’s capacity and the
boom failed and broke down. Since, there were unequal loading on the 250 MT crane by it’s side,
that also failed and broke down. The crane of 350 MT capacity didn’t broke but it toppled with it’s
base. The 400 MT crane remained intact.

Final overview
a. It is concluded that the failure of pier cap occurred due to inadequate prop / jacket. This was coupled with failure of cantilever pier cap due to inadequate development length of top reinforcement of the cantilever pier cap.

b. The failure of the crane was a case of operational inexperience for such synchronized crane operation. The crane -1 did not have the requisite capacity for the extended boom length and radius. Once crane – 1 failed, the crane – 2 was loaded almost half of the launching girder amounting to around 200 MT. For the extension of boom and radius, it did not have the requisite capacity so it failed, too. The crane -3 was loaded more than it’s capacity. However, in this case the crane got toppled instead of boom getting sheared. The crane -4 did not undergo the severe loading due to failure of other 3 cranes and most of the loads got grounded by that time.

What it taught us?
a. Structural designs should be proof checked by experienced structural engineer.

b. Once failure observed, structure should be as far as practicable abandoned and new structure should be built up

c. More emphasis should be given on detailing of reinforcement to cater for connections and behavior of the structural components.

d. Any make-shift arrangement to save a failed structure should be avoided.

e. Reinforcement detailing in corbels, deep beams, cantilever structures should be checked as per the provisions of more than one type of Standards (both IS & BS should be followed).

f. Adequately experienced Engineer / Forman should be deployed for erection works.

This article has been written/submitted to us by a Civil Engineer and we are thankful to him/her for his so valuable inputs.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse

It was an unfortunate morning of 7th November 1940 when winds having speed of 42 miles per hour suddenly twisted the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and lead to its collapse. This accident though didn’t look any lives but it surely made the civil engineers to think new ways to combat bridge collapses.

Some of the important statistics of this bridge are –
It is located in Tacoma, Washington, USA and was completed in 1940. This was a suspension type of bridge with length of 7,392 feet and was built at the cost of $6.4million.It had the longest span of 2800 feet.

The bridge was designed by engineer Moisseiff who had strengthened it with a solid steel girder beneath the roadway.But the problems started soon it was opened to traffic.Under strong winds, it swayed much beyond the permissible limits and thus sent rippling waves along the deck. It took just 4 months before this bridge collapsed after its completion.

On investigating it was found that the solid steel girders provided to strengthen the bridge were actually blocking the wind which caused the bridge to twist.Due to this a swirling motion developed which ultimately lead to the collapse. After knowing the reason for collapse a new bridge was constructed which had a truss so that it can allow the passage of wind


This bridge also got the name “Galloping Gertie” due to its unusual twisting and rolling behavior.

See this video to see how this “Galloping Gertie” used to sway.

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