Microcracking and Inelastic Behavior of Concrete


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Title: Microcracking and Inelastic Behavior of Concrete

Author(s): Gerald M. Sturman, Surendra P. Shah, and George Winter

Publication: Special Publication

Volume: 12


Appears on pages(s): 473-499


Date: 1/1/1965

With discussion by Peter R. Barnard, George Pincus, Charles A. Rich, and Gerald Sturman, Surendra P. Shah, and George Winter. Inelastic behavior of concrete was studied by direct observations of internal microcracking. Thin slices were made from strained specimens and internal cracks were examined by X-ray and microscope techniques. Bond cracks at the interface between coarse aggregates and mortar, exist in concrete even before any load is applied. Analytical and experimental studies showed that tensile stresses are present at the mortar-aggregate interface because of volume changes of mortar and may be partly responsible for bond cracks in virgin concrete. These bond cracks begin to propagate noticeably at applied compression stresses of one-quarter to one-third of the ultimate strength. At this level the stress-strain curve begins to deviate from a straight line. At about 70% to 90% of ultimate strength cracks through mortar begin to increase noticeably and bridge between bond cracks to form a continuous crack pattern. Upon further load increase this condition eventually leads to a descending stress-strain curve and failure. Other investigators have noted that in that same load range, the volume of concrete begins to increase rather than decrease. An hypothesis explaining this volume expansion and propagation of bond cracks in terms of shear bond strength of the interface and microcracking has been presented. In order to investigate the influence of flexural strain gradients, microcracking and the stress-strain relation of eccentrically loaded specimens were compared with those of concentrically loaded specimens, It was found that a flexural strain gradient definitely retards microcracking, especially mortar cracking as compared to cracking at the same strain in axial compression. The stress-strain curve for eccentric compression, which was computed by an experimental-statistical approach was found to differ materially from that for concentric compression. The peak of the flexural curve was located at a strain about 50% larger and at a stress about 20% larger than the peak of the curve for concentric compression. Structural implications of these findings are briefly examined.