CATHER-POUND DEMOLITION/WHAT TO EXPECT: Blast waves and nearby buildings

Calendar Icon Dec 19, 2017      Person Bust Icon By Keith McGuffey     RSS Feed  RSS Submit a Story

Christine Wittich, assistant professor of civil engineering.
Christine Wittich, assistant professor of civil engineering.


During the implosion of Cather and Pound residence halls, more than 20 million pounds of debris will come crashing to the ground.

Christine Wittich, an assistant professor of civil engineering who specializes in earthquake engineering and structural dynamics, will be measuring the effects of the event on other buildings. The implosion presents a unique opportunity to study the effects of seismic or blast loads in a dense urban setting.

“When we study the earthquake response of buildings, we typically examine the effects of an event on a single structure,” said Wittich. “This is a rare opportunity to study the effects of the blast load on adjacent buildings, as well as how those buildings respond together as a group. The ultimate goal is to study and enhance the resiliency of communities as opposed to a single structure.”

The amplitudes and frequencies imparted to the adjacent buildings depends on the characteristics of the implosion and the soil composition. Sensors will be placed on several buildings around campus to monitor their vibrations, including Neihardt and Abel residence halls.

While the buildings will be subject to the ground’s acceleration similar to an earthquake, Wittich emphasized that the effects will be noticeably smaller.

“During an earthquake, a massive amount of energy is released over a large area,” said Wittich. “Comparatively, the building implosion is much smaller and the focal point is very localized – creating only small vibrations on the nearby structures.”

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