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AS PER IS : 4991 - 1968



General characteristics of blast and effect on structures
Blast force
Scaling law
Blast load on above ground structure


Over the last decades considerable attention has been

raised on the behavior of engineering structures under blast
or impact loading. The use of explosives by terrorist groups
around the world that target civilian buildings and other
structures is becoming a growing problem in modern
societies. Explosive devices have become smaller in size
and more powerful than some years ago, leading to
increased mobility of the explosive material and larger
range effects. Usually the casualties from such a detonation
are not only related to instant fatalities as a consequence of
the direct release of energy, but mainly to structural
failures that might occur and could result in extensive life
loss therefore it is essential to consider appropriate blast
loading for the design of structure.


Blast wave : An explosion can be defined as a very fast

chemical reaction involving a solid, dust or gas, during
which a rapid release of hot gases and energy takes
place. The phenomenon lasts only some milliseconds
and it results in the production of very high
temperatures and pressures. During detonation the hot
gases that are produced expand in order to occupy the
available space, leading to wave type propagation
through space that is transmitted spherically through an
unbounded surrounding medium. The blast wave
contains a large part of the energy that was released
during detonation and moves faster than the speed of

General characteristics of
blast and effect on
Shock wave :

As a result of explosion, a shock wave is

generated in the air which moves outward in all directions from
the point of burst with high speed causing time-dependent
pressure and suction effects at all points in its way. The shock
wave consists of an initial positive pressure phase followed by a
negative (suction) phase at any point as shown in Fig. I. The
shock wave is accompanied by blast wind causing dynamic
pressures due to drag effects on any obstruction coming in its

The peak values depend upon the size of explosion, the

distance of the surface from the source, and other factors
like ambient pressure and temperature in air.
The peak positive intensity quickly drops down to zero the
total duration of the positive phase being a few
milliseconds. The maximum negative overpressure is much
smaller than the peak positive overpressure, its limiting
value being one atmosphere. But the negative phase
duration is 2 to 5 times as long as that of the positive

Blast Force

Maximum values of reference explosion : The maximum

values of the positive side-on overpressure pso, reflected
over pressure pro and dynamic pressure qo, as caused by
the explosion of one tone explosive at various distances
from the point of explosion, the duration of the positive
phase of the blast t, and the equivalent time duration of
positive phase td are given in Table 1 of the IS 49911968.
Decay of pressure with time : The pressure varies with
time according to the following relation.

Table - 1 From IS : 4991 1968

Notes :
The value of pa the ambient air pressure may be taken as 1
kg/cm2 at mean sea level.
One tone of explosive referred to in this table is equivalent
to 1.5 X 109 calories.
Velocity of sound in m/s may be taken ( 331.5 + 0.607 T )
where T is the ambient temperature in centigrade.

Scaling law

For any explosion other than the reference explosion, the

peak pressures and time durations may be found from the
peak values given in Table 1 by the cube root scaling laws
as given below:

W = yield of explosion in equivalent weight of the reference
explosive measured in tones,
x = scaled distance for entering the Table 1 for reading
peak values, and
to = scaled time read from Table 1 against scaled distance.
NOTE - Actual distance is measured from the ground zero to
the point under consideration. Actual time is the time for
actual explosion.

Blast load on above ground

Types of structure : There are mainly two types of structure:
Diffraction type of structures : these are closed structures

without openings, with total area opposing the blast. These

are subjected to both shock wave overpressure and the
dynamic pressure caused by blast wind.
Drag type of structure : These are the open structures
composed of elements like beams, columns, trusses, etc.
which have small projected area opposing the shock wave.
These are mainly subjected to dynamic pressure q

Closed rectangular structure :

Front Face As the shock wave strikes the vertical face of
a structure normal reflection occurs and the pressure on
the front face instantaneously increases to the reflected
overpressure pro given by the following equation:

Pa = the ambient atmospheric pressure.

Above ground rectangular structure

The net pressure acting on the front face at any time t is

the reflected overpressure pr. or ( ps + Cd q), whichever
is greater:
Cd = drag coefficient given in Table 2, and
pr = the reflected overpressure which drops from the
peak value pro to overpressure (ps + Cd q) in clearance
time tc, given by:
tc = 3S/U or td whichever is less
S = H or B/2 whichever is less (as shown in Fig)
U = shock front velocity = M x a
a = velocity of sound in air which may be taken as 344
m/s at mean sea level at 20oC, and
M = Mach number of the incident pulse given
Sqrt(1+6Pso/7Pa). The values of M for various conditions
are also tabulated in Table 1.

The net average loading on the front face (B x H) as a

function of time is shown in below fig. depending on whether
tc, is smaller than or equal to t d. The pressures Pro, Pso and q0
and time td are for actual explosion. Determined according to
the scaling laws

Pressure versus time for front face

Rear Face - Using the pressures for the actual explosion,

the average loading on the rear face is taken as shown in
below fig. where the time has been considered from the
instant the shock first strike the front face. The time
interval of interest are the following.
L/U = The travel time of shock from front to rear face, and
4S/U = Pressure rise time on back face.

Pressure versus time for rear face

Roof and Side Walls : As considered for rear face the

average pressure versus time curve for roof and side
walls is given in below fig. when td is greater than the
transit time tt = L/U. When tt is greater than td the load
on roof and side walls may be considered as a moving
triangular pulse having the peak value of overpressure (
Pso+ Cd q0 ) and time td as shown in below fig.

Average pressure diagram when

td > t

Moving pressure pulse for tt > td

Table -2 From IS 4991 1968

Blast parameters due to the detonation of a 0.1 tone explosive
are evaluated on an above ground rectangular structure, 3 m
high, 10 m wide and 8 m long, situated at 30 m from ground
a) Characteristics of the blast
Scaled distance x = 30 / (0.1)1/3 = 64.65m
Referring to Table 1 assuming Pa = 1.00 kg/cm 2 and linearly
interpolating between 63 m and 66 m for the scaled distance
64.65 m, the pressure are directly obtained.
Pso = 0.35 kg/cm2
Pro = 0.81 kg/cm2
qo = 0.042 kg/cm2
The scaled times to and td obtained from Table 1 for scaled
distance 64.65 m are multiplied by (0.1 ) 1/3 to get the values of
the respective quantities for the actual explosion of 0.1 tone

to = 37.71 (0.1)1/3 = 17.5 millisecond

td=28.32 (0.1)1/3 = 13.15 millisecond
M=sqrt(1+(6/7)(Pso/Pa)) = 1.14
a = 344 m/s U = 392 m/s = 0.392 m/millisecond
b) Pressure on the building
Here H= 3m, B=10m, and L=8m then S = 3m
then S=3m
tc=3S/U=(3x3)/0.392=23.0millisecond > td
tt=L/U=8/0.392=20.4millisecond > td
As tr>td no pressure on the back face is considered.
For roof and side Cd=-0.4
Pso+Cd q0=0.35-0.4x0.042=0.33 kg/cm2

The pressure diagrams are shown below

Recommended values of
blast pressure for design

For general guidance the buildings may be designed for

a bare charge of 100 kg at distances given in Table 7.
Table - 7

Load combination

Wind or earthquake forces shall not be assumed to

occur simultaneously with blast effects. Effects of
temperature and shrinkage shall be neglected.
Live load on floors shall be considered as per IS : 875-I
964* depending upon the class of building. No live load
shall be considered on the roof at the time of blast.