Case Study: Federal Building Bombing
Nautilus Systems provided FEMA with:
Nautilus identified key data points and provided supporting evidence to the mechanics of the detonation. Imagery analysis provided some curious details indicating evidence of implosion of some physical structures and a rolling force wave. Fragmentation patterns and blast damage data were collected using differential ground positioning system (GPS) devices. Historical and current meteorological data, and the collected GPS data were mapped by geo-location.
The resulting map showed a well defined corridor of destruction, as opposed to a radiating pattern that one would expect from an explosion. The corridor was identified by the meteorological data, and corresponded to a natural air flow pattern for that area raising from the southwest to the northeast.
On the morning of the bombing, a high pressure thermal inversion layer settled over that corridor. When the bomb detonated, the initial explosion lifted the vehicle about twenty to thirty feet off the ground, and raked the face off of the Murrah Federal building and the Oklahoma Chronicle archive building (directly opposite). A second explosion then forced the exposed floors to break off and stack one upon another. Given the low ceiling and a northeasterly push, the blast force followed the corridor away from the building which resulted in the extensive damage.
By analyzing and understanding the collected geographic, meteorological, and imagery of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building bombing, Nautilus was a major contributor to documenting the crime scene and ballistic forensics, and provided a better understanding the unfolding dynamics of the blast. The combination of munitions data modeling combined with GPS, GIS, and data visualization also proved a valuable tool in identifying high probability survivor zones.