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UNLIKELY: 'Explosions in the WTC Basement Preceded the North Tower Impact'

Claims that explosions occurred in the basements of the Twin Towers prior to the first jet impact go back to at least the article Seismic Proof – 9/11 Was An Inside Job, first published in September of 2006. That paper, whose approach is summarized below, claims to prove that explosions occurred in the basements of each of the Towers prior to its respective impact by a jet. (These claims should not be confused with those that seismic spikes preceeded the Towers' falls.)

The primary basis cited by Seismic Proof for this claim is that the estimated times of impact published by two different organizations -- the 9/11 Commission citing FAA records and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LEDO) seismic reports -- differ by 14 seconds and 17 seconds for the North Tower and South Tower, respectively.

How does this prove that 9/11 was an inside job? Is the difference in reported times even an anomaly? What are the error deltas for the different reports? Seismic Proof doesn't ask any of those questions. Instead, it strongly implies that the reported times are unquestionably accurate down to 10-millisecond increments.

e x c e r p t
title: Seismic Proof – 9/11 Was An Inside Job
authors: Craig T. Furlong & Gordon Ross
There exist two separate precision data time sets that address when the aircraft crashed into the Towers. Both data time sets are based on UTC (Coordinated Universal Time, the world’s atomic clock system) and the sources that determined these times were prestigious, reliable and credible. There is no question regarding the precision and accuracy of the instruments used to record both data time sets, since their entire function depends and relies upon temporal accuracy, and therefore there can be no doubt that both data time sets are correct. The time data sets represent objective scientific data recorded by two separate, independent entities.

By now the skeptical reader may have dismissed the articles' premise on the basis of its assertion that the veracity of data published by two government sources are beyond doubt. The same FAA and 9-11 Commission that are frequently accused of being complicit in the 9-11 cover-up are, in this instance, held up as infallible. Seismic Proof tells us that the times reported by the Commission are the correct impact times:

e x c e r p t
title: Seismic Proof – 9/11 Was An Inside Job
The Commission Report has the impact times. Their data set is based upon actual flight data that ended when the Towers were struck. There is no question: AA Flight 11 died at 8:46:40 and UA Flight 175 at 9:03:11 [UTC – 4 hrs]. Since the planes crashed at those times, the question is: What caused the LDEO times 14 and 17 seconds earlier? What caused those seismic spikes?

Without pausing to examine possible explanations for the apparent discrepancy, Seismic Proof answers its loaded question: basement explosions, it explains, preceded the plane crashes, and showman-turned-hero William Rodriguez has a story to match. How are the authors so certain that the discrepancy is even significant, even assuming the times are reported accurately? They imply that the UTC timestamping and the speed of light guarantees the accuracy of the FAA times reported by the Commission:

e x c e r p t
title: Seismic Proof – 9/11 Was An Inside Job
All of this radar and accompanying Air Traffic Control data was recorded to UTC timestamping. These stations utilized primary radar return tracking with all times to the second. Also, an Air Traffic Controller replied to this investigation stating that a time-check is done daily by all stations to make sure that all radar tracking is precisely coordinated to UTC. Radar is based upon microwaves that travel at the speed of light, so error variance is not stated.

The sleight of hand here should be obvious to anyone familiar with radar. Ground-to-air radar of the type used by the FAA employ directional antennas that rotate on a vertical axes so as to repeatedly sweep out the sky with a period of anywhere between 5 and 120 seconds. When a plane being tracked by a radar crashes, the radar doesn't show the loss of its blip until its next sweep, or until the phosphor fades. If the FAA estimated the time of a plane crash based solely on radar data, it seems likely that it would peg the moment of crash to that of an expected radar return didn't show up. That could easily account for a 17-second delay in the FAA-reported crash time.

Discovering how the FAA arrived at its estimated crash times might be difficult to impossible. The NSTB reports do not provide any details about the radar systems used to track the aircraft. The authors of Seismic Proof don't even acknowledge this topic, let along show any interest in it, because making the reader believe that that crash times are infallible and accurate to as many digits as printed is essential to selling its premise.

Basement Explosions

There are numerous eyewitness accounts of the sights, sounds, and other sensations of explosions in the Twin Towers on the morning of 9/11/2001, some from inside of the Towers. At least one witness -- William Rodriguez -- claims to have experienced an explosion in the basement of the North Tower that he knew preceded the jetliner impact. The authors don't ask how Rodriguez could be sure that the explosion he reported was not caused by the impact.

Seismic Proof highlights Rodriguez' account and that of Lt. William Walsh FDNY, who describes elevator doors in the lobby being "blown off their hinges". The authors "rule out" aircraft impact as a possible cause of explosions in the ground-level elevator shafts with the reasoning that there was only one continuous elevator shaft from the North Tower's crash zone to lobby (actually there were two), failing to provide any analysis of the possible dynamics of fuel-air explosions. Apart from the specific assertions that there were pre-impact explosions in the basements of the Towers, claims of basement explosions predate Seismic Proof.

In a Nutshell

Seismic Proof combines two corroborating alleged anomalies. It starts by highlighting a discrepancy between reported crash times of Flights 11 and 175 by the Commission (FAA) and by the seismic observatory at Palisades (LEDO) implying that both reports must be accurate down to 10 milliseconds. It ignores obvious inherent inaccuracies in data acquisition and possible reporting errors, and declares that the discrepant reports must represent two separate events. Then it provides the explanation for the alleged earlier event: pre-impact explosions in the basements of the Towers, which it attempts to corroborate with a few eyewitness reports, none of which provides anything like conclusive evidence of pre-impact events.

Far from being "proof that 9/11 was an inside job" Seismic Proof is likely to diminish the credibility of 9/11 investigations of the crime that uncritically cite it.


page last modified: 2010-12-18
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Seismic chart of North Tower impact (LEDO)
Seismic chart of South Tower impact (LEDO)