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ERROR: 'The North Tower's Spire Turned to Dust'

The destruction of the Twin Towers involved phenomena never seen before. While normal controlled demolitions shatter a building into many pieces and produce copious dust, the thoroughness of the destruction of towers and the quantities of dust produced were of a higher order of magnitude. In the towers' collapses there are many other features that appear unusual, such as the persistence of large portions of the core structures until after the rest of each tower had been destroyed. The North Tower 'spire' -- a portion of the tower's core that remained standing for 30 seconds after the start of the tower's collapse -- is such a feature. Based on videos of the spire's collapse, some have concluded that it turned to dust.

e x c e r p t
title: The Strange Collapse of the Spire
authors: plaguepuppy
An odd remnant of the core of the north tower remained standing for about 15 seconds after the main collapse, then seemed to abruptly disintegrate into a narrow column of dust where huge steel box columns had been...

In this view the spire can be seen in the wake of the debris cloud just as it reaches the ground. (And incidentally at that moment the scene to the left of the dust cloud gets much brighter, a brightness visible in many images. Its possible source is beyond the scope of this discussion.) This remnant of the core remains standing for a little less than 20 seconds, swaying a bit from side to side but showing remarkably little inclination to topple over. It then abruptly begins to drop straight down on itself in an apparent free fall, but after falling for about a quarter of its height it suddenly turns to dust. It is heavy dust that continues to drop straight down in place with very little dispersion or wind drift, suggesting that the particles were dense, more or less what one would expect to see if the steel of the columns had turned all at once into a coarse powder.

The interpretation that the spire turned to dust is an easy one to make given its appearance in the videos. However, there is a much less exotic alternative explanation. That is that as the spire fell, it released dust which obscured its visibility. The photo on the left shows detail of the lower portion of the spire. It shows what are apparently short horizontal sections of floor connecting several core columns, two of which are visible. Those horizontal sections would have held a great deal of dust, which would be expelled as the spire collapsed from below.

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