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The Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers: A Metallurgist's View

Abstract

This article is based on an edited transcript of a presentation given by Frank W. Gayle (National Institute of Standards and Technology) on April 12, 2007, in Symposium X at the Materials Research Society Spring Meeting in San Francisco.

The NIST investigation of the World Trade Center disaster addressed many aspects of the catastrophe, from occupant egress to factors affecting the ability of the Twin Towers to remain standing after being hit by the airplanes, with the goal of gaining valuable information for future best practices in building materials, building design, and emergency response. The presentation addressed the structure of the towers, the analysis of the recovered steel, and special issues faced during the investigation. The probable collapse sequence for each of the towers was also discussed.

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1.Gann R.G., Ed., Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers (NIST NCSTAR 1, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md., 2005).
2.Gayle F.W., Fields R.J., Luecke W.E., Banovic S.W., Foecke T., McCowan C.N., Siewert T.A., McColskey J.D., Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster: Mechanical and Metallurgical Analysis of Structural Steel (NIST NCSTAR 1–3, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md., 2005).
3.Banovic S.W., Foecke T., Gayle F.W., Assessment of Structural Steel from the World Trade Center Towers, Part I: Recovery and Identification of Critical Structural Elements 6 (5), 47 (2006).
4.Foecke T., Banovic S.W., Gayle F.W., Assessment of Structural Steel from the World Trade Center Towers, Part II: Analysis of Images for Forensic Information 6 (5), 70 (2006).
5.Banovic S.W., Foecke T., Gayle F.W., Assessment of Structural Steel from the World Trade Center Towers, Part III: Physical Damage Caused by Impact of Aircraft 6 (5), 86 (2006).
6.Banovic S.W., Foecke T., Assessment of Structural Steel from the World Trade Center Towers, Part IV: Experimental Techniques to Assess Possible Exposure to High-Temperature Excursions 6 (5), 103 (2006).
7.Foecke T., Banovic S.W., Gayle F.W., Assessment of Structural Steel from the World Trade Center Towers, Part V: Forensic Photographic Evidence of Tower Collapse Initiation and Progression 6 (5), 121 (2006).
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MRS Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0883-7694
  • EISSN: 1938-1425
  • URL: /core/journals/mrs-bulletin
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