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Kingdome implosion -- dust cloud volume

Jerry Russell     version1.0  1/22/04

The frames above are captured from the mpeg file posted at www.controlled-demolition.com (mirrored here.)  Notice the lamp-pole in the foreground, which is being approached by the dust cloud at frame 4, and entirely engulfed at frame 5.

From this aerial photo (source: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/mapsdata/photogrammetry/PhotogImages/Photog4.jpg) we confirm that the Kingdome was round, and had 40 rafters holding up the domed roof.

Using 3ds max (Discreet Software, Inc.) we build a 3D model of the Kingdome structure, given the following dimensions (from http://www.metrokc.gov/stadium/ ) -- diameter, 660 feet (excluding exterior ramps), height 250 feet, roof area 7.85 acres, enclosed volume 67 million cubic feet.  Using the peak of the dome, and 5 points around the base of the stadium at the intersections of columns spaced 3 joists apart, we use the "Camera Match" feature of 3ds max to solve for the perspective of the video images.

The above image shows the match between the model (shown in yellow wireframe) and the video image of the Kingdome.  We can also locate the lamp-pole in 3D perspective, grounded from its base where it intersects the parking lot surface.

This perspective view shows the spatial relationships between the Kingdome, the lamp-post and the camera.  The lamp-post is at a distance of about 600 feet from the center of the dome, and is about 80 feet tall.  The camera is about 1100 feet from the center of the dome, and is about 150 feet high.

Now we can estimate the size of the dust-cloud.  At frame 5 the cloud has engulfed the lamp-post, so its radius must be about 600 feet, and its height (somewhat above the lamp-post) is about 100 feet.  To at least a first rough approximation, the dust cloud appears to be cylindrical and symmetrical, although arguably taller at the center.  So we can approximated the dust cloud volume as pi*600^2*100 -- which is about 113 million cubic feet, or about 1.7 times the volume of the Kingdome before demolition. 

After frame 5, the dust-cloud continues to billow towards the camera, but it appears that the cloud may be growing somewhat asymmetrically (driven towards the camera by the wind) and at any rate, without any foreground landmarks to compare against, it is hard to tell whether the volume has grown any further.

A possible source of error in this analysis is the aspect ratio of the video images.  The actual resolution of the video file is 352*240, but according to the Elecard MPEG2 player, the image aspect ratio is 4:3, so the images were restored to that aspect ratio (that is, 320*240 pixels) for the rest of the analysis.