Catastrophic failure

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A catastrophic failure is a sudden and total failure of some system from which recovery is impossible. Catastrophic failures often lead to cascading systems failure.

The term is most commonly used for structural failures, but has often been extended to many other disciplines where total and irrecoverable loss occurs. Such failures are investigated using the methods of forensic engineering, which aims to isolate the cause or causes of failure. Catostrophic failure is also observed in the steam turbine rotor occuring due to peak stress acting on the rotor and also the stress concentration increases which ultimately leads to the failure of the disc.


Original Tay Bridge from the north
Fallen Tay Bridge from the north

Examples of catastrophic failure of engineered structures include:

See also[edit]