Mechanics of Collapse of WTC Towers Clarified by Recent Column Buckling Tests of Korol and Sivakumaran

Jia Liang Le, Zdenek P. Bazant*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The previously formulated model of the gravity-driven collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) on September 11, 2011 was shown to match all the existing observations, including the video record of the crush-down motion of the top part of tower during the first few seconds, the seismically recorded duration of collapse, the size distribution of particles caused by impact comminution of concrete floor slabs, the loud booms due to near-sonic lateral ejection velocity of air and dust, and precedence of the crush-down collapse mode before the crush-up. Nevertheless, different degrees of ductility, fracturing and end support flexibility of WTC columns could lead to an equally good match of these observations and remained uncertain, due to lack of test data. Recently, Korol and Sivakumaran reported valuable experiments that allow clarifying this uncertainty. They revealed that, under the simplifying assumptions of rigid end supports and unlimited ductility (or no fracturing) of unheated columns, the energy dissipation of the WTC columns would have been at maximum 3.5-times as large as that calculated by the plastic hinge mechanism normally considered for small-deflection buckling. This increase would still allow close match of all the aforementioned observations except for the first two seconds of the video. The proper conclusion from Korol and Sivakumaran's tests, based on close matching of the video record, is that the fracturing of unheated columns and the flexibility of their end restraints must have significantly reduced the energy dissipation in columns calculated under the assumptions of no fracture and no end restraint flexibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1771011
JournalInternational Journal of Structural Stability and Dynamics
Volume17
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017

Keywords

  • 9/11
  • Column buckling
  • WTC collapse
  • ductility
  • fracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics

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