Anisotropic characterization of crack growth in the tertiary flow of asphalt mixtures in compression

Yuqing Zhang*, Rong Luo, Robert L. Lytton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Asphalt mixtures exhibit primary, secondary, and tertiary stages in sequence during a rutting deterioration. Many field asphalt pavements are still in service even when the asphalt layer is in the tertiary stage, and rehabilitation is not performed until a significant amount of rutting accompanied by numerous macrocracks is observed. The objective of this study was to provide a mechanistic method to model the anisotropic cracking of the asphalt mixtures in compression during the tertiary stage of rutting. Laboratory tests including nondestructive and destructive tests were performed to obtain the viscoelastic and viscofracture properties of the asphalt mixtures. Each of the measured axial and radial total strains in the destructive tests were decomposed into elastic, plastic, viscoelastic, viscoplastic, and viscofracture strains using the pseudostrain method in an extended elastic-viscoelastic correspondence principle. The viscofracture strains are caused by the crack growth, which is primarily signaled by the increase of phase angle in the tertiary flow. The viscofracture properties are characterized using the anisotropic damage densities (i.e., the ratio of the lost area caused by cracks to the original total area in orthogonal directions). Using the decomposed axial and radial viscofracture strains, the axial and radial damage densities were determined by using a dissipated pseudostrain energy balance principle and a geometric analysis of the cracks, respectively. Anisotropic pseudo J-integral Paris' laws in terms of damage densities were used to characterize the evolution of the cracks in compression. The material constants in the Paris' law are determined and found to be highly correlated. These tests, analysis, and modeling were performed on different asphalt mixtures with two binders, two air void contents, and three aging periods. Consistent results were obtained; for instance, a stiffer asphalt mixture is demonstrated to have a higher modulus, a lower phase angle, a greater flow number, and a larger n1 value (exponent of Paris' law). The calculation of the orientation of cracks demonstrates that the asphalt mixture with 4% air voids has a brittle fracture and a splitting crack mode, whereas the asphalt mixture with 7% air voids tends to have a ductile fracture and a diagonal sliding crack mode. Cracks of the asphalt mixtures in compression are inclined to propagate along the direction of the external compressive load.

Original languageEnglish
Article number04014032
JournalJournal of Engineering Mechanics
Issue number6
Early online date31 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2014


  • anisotropy
  • asphalt mixtures
  • crack growth
  • damage density
  • Paris' law
  • pseudostrain
  • rutting
  • strain decomposition
  • tertiary flow


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