Determining the low-temperature fracture toughness of asphalt mixtures

Mihai O. Marasteanu, Shongtao Dai, Joseph F. Labuz, Xue Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


There has been a sustained effort in applying fracture mechanics concepts to crack formation and propagation in bituminous pavement materials. Adequate fracture resistance is an essential requirement for asphalt pavements built in the northern part of the United States and Canada, for which the prevailing failure mode is cracking due to low-temperature shrinkage stresses. The current Superpave® specifications address this issue mainly through the use of strength tests on unnotched (smooth boundary) specimens. However, recent studies have shown the limitations of this approach and have suggested that fracture mechanics concepts, based on tests performed on notched samples, should be used instead. Research in progress at the University of Minnesota investigates the use of fracture mechanics principles to determine the low-temperature fracture properties of asphalt mixtures. A testing protocol is presented that makes it possible to obtain multiple measurements of fracture toughness as a function of crack propagation based on the compliance method to measure crack length. An increase in fracture toughness with crack length is observed, which is consistent with the behavior displayed by other brittle materials. The plateau of the curves may be representative of the asphalt concrete resistance to fracture, because the initial values can be significantly influenced by the presence of the inelastic zone at the crack tip.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-199
Number of pages9
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number1789
StatePublished - 2002


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