Evaluating the safety of unreinforced concrete structures, such as concrete dams, requires an accurate prediction of cracking. Developing a suitable constitutive material model and a reliable computational procedure for analysing cracking processes in concrete has been a challenging and demanding task. Although many analytical methods based on fracture mechanics have been proposed for concrete dams in the last few decades, they have not yet become part of standard design procedures. Few of the current research findings are being implemented by practising engineers when evaluating dam safety. This research is focused on the development of a suitable crack modelling and analysis method for the prediction and study of fracturing in concrete gravity dams, and consequently, for the evaluation of dam safety against cracking. The research aims to contribute to the continuing research efforts into mastering the mechanics of cracking in concrete dams. An analytical method for the purpose of establishing a crack constitutive model and implementing the model for the fracture analysis of concrete structures, in particular massive concrete gravity dams under static loading conditions, has been developed, verified and applied in the safety evaluation of a concrete gravity dam. The constitutive material model is based on non-linear fracture mechanics and assumes a bilinear softening response. The crack model has various improved features: (1) an enhanced mode I bilinear strain-softening approach has been put forward; (2) a new formula for bilinear softening parameters has been developed and their relation with linear softening has been outlined; (3) the influence of bilinear softening parameters on the cracking response has been studied; and (4) an enhanced modification to the shear retention factor which depends on the crack normal strain is included. The material model has been incorporated into a finite element analysis using a smeared crack approach. A sub-program was specially coded for this research. The validity of the proposed cracking model and the computational procedure developed for the purpose of analyzing the tensile fracture behaviour of concrete structures has been confirmed by verification on various concrete structures, including beams, a dam model and actual gravity dams. The crack modelling technique developed was successfully used in evaluating the safety of an existing concrete gravity dam in South Africa and adequately predicted the cracking response of the dam structure under static loadings. The main conclusions drawn are as follows: <ul><li>Both mode I and mode II fracture have been modelled successfully.</li> <li>The proposed bilinear softening model remains relatively simple to implement but significantly improves on predicting the softening response of “small-scale” concrete structures.</li> <li>Both plane stress and plane strain crack analyses have been considered and can be confidently adopted in two-dimensional applications.</li> <li>The proposed method is mesh objective.</li> <li>The crack modelling method developed can correctly predict the crack propagation trajectory and the structural behaviour with regard to fracturing in concrete structures.</li> <li>If not considering shear stress concentration near the tip of a crack, constitutive crack analysis normally indicates a higher safety factor and a higher Imminent Failure Flood (IFF) than the classical methods in the analysis of concrete gravity dams for safety evaluation.</li></ul>
Thesis (PhD(Civil Engineering))--University of Pretoria, 2007.
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