Sparks and Glowing Orange Metal Flow From the South Tower
|These frames from an amateur video show the northeast corner of the South Tower seconds before its precipitous fall. The spout of orange molten metal and rising white smoke has the appearance of a thermite reaction.|
In the final minutes leading up to the South Tower's destruction, sparks and a stream of orange-glowing molten metal flowed from the the northeast corner of the crash zone. The flows were recorded by several amateur videographers, as well as a live ABC News camera.
According to NIST's 2006 FAQ the first of several flows emerging from the South Tower's 80th floor started at 9:52 -- seven minutes before the onset of the "collapse".
The same FAQ attempted to explain the phenomenon as molten aluminum from the crashed jetliner with burning hydrocarbons mixed in. Steven E. Jones, noting that molten aluminum has a dull gray rather than a glowing orange appearance, performed experiments to test NIST's hypothesis that the orange color was imparted by burning hydrocarbons somehow immersed in molten aluminum. The results were negative: molten aluminum and hydrocarbons, burning or not, separate. Even if one could find a way to mix a burning hydrocarbon into molten aluminum, any orange color would be occluded by the opacity of the aluminum.
Jones provided a more plausible hypothesis for the phenomenon: the spouting material was molten iron produced by reacting aluminothermic incendiaries, such as thermite or thermate.