A catastrophic failure is a sudden and total failure from which recovery is impossible. Catastrophic failures often lead to cascading systems failure. The term is most commonly used for structural failures, but has often been extended to many other disciplines in which total and irrecoverable loss occurs. Such failures are investigated using the methods of forensic engineering, which aims to isolate the cause or causes of failure.
For example, catastrophic failure can be observed in steam turbine rotor failure, which can occur due to peak stress on the rotor; stress concentration increases up to a point at which it is excessive, leading ultimately to the failure of the disc.
In firearms, catastrophic failure usually refers to a rupture or disintegration of the barrel or receiver of the gun when firing it. Some possible causes of this are an out-of-battery gun, an inadequate headspace, the use of incorrect ammunition, the use of ammunition with an incorrect propellant charge,a partially or fully obstructed barrel, or weakened metal in the barrel or receiver. A failure of this type, known colloquially as a "kaboom", or "kB" failure, can pose a threat not only to the user(s) but even many bystanders.
In chemical engineering, thermal runaway can cause catastrophic failure.
Examples of catastrophic failure of engineered structures include:
Forensic engineering has been defined as "the investigation of failures - ranging from serviceability to catastrophic - which may lead to legal activity, including both civil and criminal". It therefore includes the investigation of materials, products, structures or components that fail or do not operate or function as intended, causing personal injury, damage to property or economic loss. The consequences of failure may give rise to action under either criminal or civil law including but not limited to health and safety legislation, the laws of contract and/or product liability and the laws of tort. The field also deals with retracing processes and procedures leading to accidents in operation of vehicles or machinery. Generally, the purpose of a forensic engineering investigation is to locate cause or causes of failure with a view to improve performance or life of a component, or to assist a court in determining the facts of an accident. It can also involve investigation of intellectual property claims, especially patents.
The Great Sheffield Flood was a flood that devastated parts of Sheffield, England, on 11 March 1864, when the Dale Dyke Dam broke as its reservoir was being filled for the first time. At least 240 people died and more than 600 houses were damaged or destroyed by the flood. The immediate cause was a crack in the embankment, the cause of which was never determined. The dam's failure led to reforms in engineering practice, setting standards on specifics that needed to be met when constructing such large-scale structures. The dam was rebuilt in 1875.
The Teton Dam was an earthen dam on the Teton River in Idaho, United States. It was built by the Bureau of Reclamation, one of eight federal agencies authorized to construct dams. Located in the eastern part of the state, between Fremont and Madison counties, it suffered a catastrophic failure on June 5, 1976, as it was filling for the first time.
An environmental disaster or ecological disaster is a catastrophic event regarding the environment due to human activity. This distinguishes it from the concept of a natural disaster. It is also distinct from intentional acts of war such as nuclear bombings.
On July 17, 1981, two walkways collapsed at the Hyatt Regency Kansas City hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, one directly above the other. They crashed onto a tea dance being held in the hotel's lobby, killing 114 and injuring 216. As a product of a corporate culture of profound neglect, the disaster contributed many lessons to the study of engineering ethics and errors, and to emergency management. The event remains the deadliest non‑deliberate structural failure in American history, and it was the deadliest structural collapse in the U.S. until the collapse of the World Trade Center towers 20 years later.
The Banqiao Reservoir Dam is a dam on the River Ru (汝河), a tributary of the Hong River in Zhumadian City, Henan province, China. The Banqiao dam and Shimantan Reservoir Dam are among 62 dams in Zhumadian that failed catastrophically or were intentionally destroyed in 1975 during Typhoon Nina. The dam was subsequently rebuilt.
Anthropogenic hazards are hazards caused by human action or inaction. They are contrasted with natural hazards. Anthropogenic hazards may adversely affect humans, other organisms, biomes, and ecosystems. The frequency and severity of hazards are key elements in some risk analysis methodologies. Hazards may also be described in relation to the impact that they have. A hazard only exists if there is a pathway to exposure. As an example, the center of the earth consists of molten material at very high temperatures which would be a severe hazard if contact was made with the core. However, there is no feasible way of making contact with the core, therefore the center of the earth currently poses no hazard.
STS-51-L was the disastrous 25th mission of the United States Space Shuttle program, the program to carry out routine transportation for Earth-to-orbit crew and cargo; as well as the final flight of Space Shuttle Challenger.
The Dee Bridge disaster was a rail accident that occurred on 24 May 1847 in Chester, resulting in five fatalities. It revealed the weakness of cast iron beam bridges reinforced by wrought iron tie bars, and brought criticism of its designer, Robert Stephenson, the son of George Stephenson.
A squib load, also known as a squib round, pop and no kick, or just a squib, is a firearm malfunction in which a fired projectile does not have enough force behind it to exit the barrel, and thus becomes stuck. This type of malfunction can be extremely dangerous, as failing to notice that the projectile has become stuck in the barrel may result in another round being fired directly into the obstructed barrel, resulting in a catastrophic failure of the weapon's structural integrity.
The 2003 Hokkaidō earthquake, scientifically named the 2003 Tokachi-Oki earthquake, occurred off the coast of Hokkaidō, Japan on 26 September at 04:50 local time. At a focal depth of 27 km (17 mi), this great undersea earthquake measured 8.3 on the moment magnitude scale, making it the most powerful earthquake of 2003, as well as one of the most intense earthquakes to hit Japan since modern record-keeping began in 1900.
A firearm malfunction is the failure of a firearm to operate as intended for causes other than user error. Malfunctions range from temporary and relatively safe situations, such as a casing that didn't eject, to potentially dangerous occurrences that may permanently damage the gun and cause injury or death. Improper handling of certain types of malfunctions can be very dangerous. The basic rules of firearms safety should be followed at all times to minimize the risk to shooters and bystanders. Proper cleaning and maintenance of a firearm play a big role in preventing malfunctions.
Silver Lake Dam is a dam located on the Dead River 30 miles (48.3 km) upstream of Marquette, Michigan. It is the farthest upstream of five dams on the river and had no electricity generating facilities. The dam failed on May 14, 2003 and forced the evacuation of 1800 people. The dam was rebuilt in 2008.
Structural integrity and failure is an aspect of engineering that deals with the ability of a structure to support a designed structural load without breaking and includes the study of past structural failures in order to prevent failures in future designs.
Shortcuts in engineering design can lead to engineering disasters. Engineering is the science and technology used to meet the needs and demands of society. These demands include buildings, aircraft, vessels, and computer software. In order to meet society’s demands, the creation of newer technology and infrastructure must be met efficiently and cost-effectively. To accomplish this, managers and engineers have to have a mutual approach to the specified demand at hand. This can lead to shortcuts in engineering design to reduce costs of construction and fabrication. Occasionally, these shortcuts can lead to unexpected design failures.
The Mariana dam disaster, also known as the Bento Rodrigues or Samarco dam disaster, occurred on 5 November 2015, when the Fundão tailings dam at the Germano iron ore mine of the Samarco Mariana Mining Complex near Mariana, Minas Gerais, Brazil, suffered a catastrophic failure, resulting in flooding that devastated the downstream villages of Bento Rodrigues and Paracatu de Baixo, killing 19 people. The extent of the damage caused by the tailings dam collapse is the largest ever recorded with pollutants spread along 668 kilometres (415 mi) of watercourses.
The Brumadinho dam disaster occurred on 25 January 2019 when Dam I, a tailings dam at the Córrego do Feijão iron ore mine, 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) east of Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil, suffered a catastrophic failure. The dam is owned by Vale, the same company that was involved in the 2015 Mariana dam disaster. The dam released a mudflow that advanced through the mine's offices, including a cafeteria during lunchtime, along with houses, farms, inns and roads downstream. 270 people died as a result of the collapse, of whom 259 were officially confirmed dead, in January 2019, and 11 others reported as missing, whose bodies had not been found.
The 1975 Banqiao Dam failure was the collapse of 62 dams including the largest Banqiao Dam in Henan, China due to Typhoon Nina of 1975. In August 1975, the dam failure created the third-deadliest flood in history which affected a total population of 10.15 million and inundated around 30 cities and counties of 12,000 square kilometers, with an estimated death toll ranging from 85,600 to 240,000. The flood also caused the collapse of 6.8 million houses. The dam failure took place during the Chinese Cultural Revolution when most people were busy with the "revolution"; the Communist Party of China (CPC) as well as the Chinese government subsequently hid the details of the disaster until the 1990s, when The Great Floods in China's History (中国历史大洪水), a book prefaced by Qian Zhengying who served as the Minister of Water Resources of China in 1970s and 1980s, revealed part of the information to the public for the first time.
Many firearms are destroyed and injuries sustained by home reloaders who make a mistake in estimating the correct powder charge.
... and left the copper jacket lodged in the barrel, leading to a catastrophic failuer of the rifle when the next bullet fired hit the jacket remnants.