Microstructure-based inherent anisotropy of asphalt mixtures

Yuqing Zhang*, Rong Luo, Robert L. Lytton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Asphalt mixtures have been demonstrated to be anisotropic materials in both laboratory and field tests. The anisotropy of asphalt mixtures consists of inherent anisotropy and stress-induced anisotropy. In previous work, the inherent anisotropy of asphalt mixtures was quantified by using only the inclination angles of the coarse aggregate particles in the asphalt mixtures. However, the inclination of fine aggregates also has a contribution to the inherent anisotropy. Moreover, the contribution to the inherent anisotropy of each aggregate may not be the same as in the previous work but will depend on the size, orientation, and sphericity of the aggregate particle. This paper quantifies the internal microstructure of the aggregates in asphalt mixtures by using an aggregate-related geometric parameter, the vector magnitude. The original formulation of the vector magnitude, which addresses only the orientation of coarse aggregates, is modified to account for not only the coarse aggregate orientation, but also the size, orientation, and sphericity of coarse and fine aggregates. This formulation is applied to cylindrical lab-mixed lab-compacted asphalt mixture specimens varying in asphalt binder type, air void content, and aging period. The vertical modulus and the horizontal modulus are also measured by using nondestructive tests. A relationship between the modified vector magnitude and the modulus ratio of the vertical modulus to the horizontal modulus is developed to quantify the influence of the inherent microstructure of the aggregates on the anisotropy of the mixtures. The modulus ratio is found to depend solely on the aggregate characteristics including the inclination angle, size, and sphericity, and it is independent of the asphalt binder type, air void content, and aging period. The inclination angle, itself, proves to be insufficient to quantify the inherent anisotropy of the asphalt mixtures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1473-1482
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Materials in Civil Engineering
Issue number10
Early online date18 Apr 2011
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • aggregate
  • anisotropy
  • asphalt mixtures
  • microstructure
  • modulus ratio
  • vector magnitude


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