Concrete Deterioration in a Shipway


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Title: Concrete Deterioration in a Shipway

Author(s): Ruth D. Terzaghi

Publication: Journal Proceedings

Volume: 44

Issue: 6

Appears on pages(s): 977-1006

Keywords: none

Date: 6/1/1948

Concrete in the gate structure of a large submerged shipway in the southeastern United States began to deteriorate two years after construction was completed. The defects included abnormally low strength of some of the concrete and numerous cracks which became progressively wider. An investigation of the cause of deterioration, begun at this time, concluded microscopic examination and chemical analyses of core specimens, chemical analyses of specimens of water issuing from relief pipes in the pier, frequent crack surveys, periodic measurement of change of length of the pier and change of width of two of the chief cracks, and compression tests on selected core specimens. On the basis of the data obtained by these various methods, it was concluded that detrimental processes of two types are taking place in the concrete. One of these causes expansion of the central part of the pier and thus leads to cracking at the pier surface. This process is ascribed to a reaction between hydrated cement and sulfates and/or other substances softening or even complete disintegration of the concrete. It appears to be due chiefly to a chemical reaction between the paste and carbon dioxide which is present in unusually high concentration in the water percolating through the structure.