Crack propagation in flexural fatigue of concrete

S. V. Kolluru, E. F. O'Neil, J. S. Popovics, S. P. Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper the behavior of concrete subjected to flexural fatigue loading is studied. Notched concrete beams were tested in a three-point bending configuration. Specimens were subjected to quasi-static cyclic and constant amplitude fatigue loading. The cyclic tests were performed by unloading the specimen at different points in the postpeak part of the quasi-static loading response. Low cycle, high amplitude fatigue tests were performed to failure using four different load ranges. The crack mouth opening displacement was continuously monitored throughout the loading process. Crack propagation caused by quasi-static and fatigue loads is described in terms of fracture mechanics. It is shown that the crack propagation in the postpeak part of the quasi-static load response is predicted using the critical value of the mode I stress intensity factor (K(IC)). The ultimate deformation of the specimen during the fatigue test is compared with that from the quasi-static test; it is demonstrated that the quasi-static deformation is insufficient as a fatigue failure criterion. It is observed that crack growth owing to constant-amplitude fatigue loading comprises two phases: a deceleration stage when there is a decrease in crack growth rate with increasing crack length, followed by an acceleration stage where the rate of crack growth increases at a steady rate. The crack length where the rate of crack growth changes from deceleration to acceleration is shown to be equal to the crack length at the peak load of the quasi-static response. Analytical expressions for crack growth in the deceleration and acceleration stages are developed, wherein the expressions for crack growth rate in the deceleration stage are developed using the R-curve concept, and the acceleration stage is shown to follow the Paris law. It is observed that the crack length at failure for constant amplitude fatigue loading is comparable to that of the corresponding load in the postpeak part of the quasi-static response. Finally, a fracture-based fatigue failure criterion is proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)891-898
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Engineering Mechanics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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