The Events Leading to the Boston Molasses Disaster


The day of tragedy. Two things happened. Which helped influence events i was that a ship arrived from cuba and transferred over six hundred thousand gallons of molasses to the tank. The molasses was heated to make it less viscous so it would be easier to transfer and the amount transferred almost completely filled the tank to the top. It was one of the few times the tank had been completely filled since it was constructed. The other thing which happened. Was that a warm front descended on boston. The temperatures went from two degrees fahrenheit or minus seventeen degrees celsius to forty degrees fahrenheit or four degrees celsius in one day. It's believed the thermal expansion of the previously cold molasses due to the increase in the temperature and the addition of warm molasses from the ship. Put enough pressure on the tank to cause it to fail catastrophically there also may have been fermentation going on inside the tank which would produce co two. Which would also create pressure at twelve thirty pm. The tank burst because of the increased temperature of the molasses and the incredible pressure. It was under in the full tank. The viscosity was quite low. When it bursts out of the tank it did so like water. It wasn't slowly pouring out like you would see molasses come out of a bottle reports. Were that the wave of molasses was twenty five feet or six meters high and traveled at thirty five miles per hour down the street. The explosion of the tank burst with the energy of eight hundred fifty sticks of dynamite rivets from the tank. Shot out like bullets lodged in buildings. The tank couldn't have burst at a worse time. Children were walking home from school for lunch and workers were out in the street. Buildings and elevated railways were hit by the flood and collapsed. Once the molasses burst forth from the tank the non newtonian nature the fluid to kick in now that it was no longer under pressure and exposed to the outside air the molasses viscosity increased and its flow. Slow dramatically once. People were caught in it. It became the fix europe that most people are accustomed to which made it very difficult to get out of the initial death. Toll was only ten people however over the next several days and weeks more bodies were found with the final body. Count reaching twenty one. The last bodies were found four months after the flood because they were swept out into the boston harbour

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