ASM Online Member Community

  • 1.  Failure Analysis Efforts at Surfside Condo

    Staff Liaison
    Posted 07-07-2021 17:30

    The recent controlled demolition brought down the remaining section of the previously collapsed South Florida condo building in Surfside, Fla., allowing first responders to better continue their search and rescue efforts. How does the changed landscape of the site affect failure analysis efforts? Will the newly created access to more areas of the site allow FA teams to more easily gather steel and concrete samples for testing? Or did the demolition remove possible fatigue and cracking clues that FA experts look for in these situations?



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    Joanne Miller
    ASM International
    Materials Park OH
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  • 2.  RE: Failure Analysis Efforts at Surfside Condo

    Posted 07-08-2021 15:12
    The sheer volume of broken material is daunting, and being from a building there are not the variety of unique shapes that might be associated with, say, an airplane reconstruction after a crash.  It will be like a jigsaw puzzle that is mostly one color.  The demolition will be dumping a lot more material.  Because much of failure analysis of disasters is putting the pieces back together, the demolition can't make that aspect of the job easier. 

    With respect to finding fatigued or pre-cracked steel, the appearance of something that failed during the demolition or was intentionally broken to facilitate it will be distinct from a fracture that occurred previously.  Fracture morphology and features are different for fatigue, and the amount of corrosion will differ.

    I haven't participated in a building reconstruction.  If for some reason I was going to, in this situation I would have suggested trying to mark the pieces from the purposeful demolition to better distinguish them from the original failure.  For instance, spray painting walls and floors that were intact prior to the demolition.  The understanding of the failure is an immense task, and will take many person-years of effort and add a substantial cost, but it may be demanded to better apportion blame and financial retribution/restitution, as well as to improve safety (hopefully) in adjacent areas as well as similar areas elsewhere.





  • 3.  RE: Failure Analysis Efforts at Surfside Condo

    Posted 07-09-2021 10:14
    I question how much FA will even be necessary given the clearly documented structural damage and warnings that immediate repair was needed. Yes, people will still go through the exercise and might even learn some things that weren't expected, but we know why the building collapsed.

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    Ken Kirby
    Snap-on, Inc.
    Kenosha WI
    (262) 748-3836
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