Finite Element Modeling of Thermal Effect on Airport Slabs

Chuanyue Shen, Yu Song, David Lange, Omar Jadallah, Jeffery Roesler

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


A sub-ground tunnel connecting two concourses of a terminal at Chicago O’Hare International Airport suffered from water leakage. The airport engineers suspected that the problem was caused by high stresses impinging on the tunnel structure by the pavement sections above the tunnel, acting to damage joints and waterproofing membranes that should have prevented such leakage. To provide a fundamental solution to this problem while minimizing the interference with airport operation, a repair strategy needs to be determined based on a clear understanding of the root cause. A preliminary field inspection confirmed that the concrete pavement slabs moved significantly when ambient temperature changes caused concrete contraction or expansion. This study used finite element modeling to infer the slab displacements and stresses driven by the daily and seasonal thermal changes based on actual temperature statistics. We proposed a reasonable 3D model configuration for the entire pavement section. The simulated slab displacements agree with the results of actual manual measurements. Subsequent analysis predicts the stresses applied to the tunnel structure, whereby insightful data are obtained for preparing the repair plan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2022
Event7th International Conference on Durability of Concrete Structure, ICDCS 2022 - Jinan, China
Duration: May 20 2022May 22 2022


Conference7th International Conference on Durability of Concrete Structure, ICDCS 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science


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