Shear fracture tests of concrete

Z. P. Bažant*, P. A. Pfeiffer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

223 Scopus citations


Symmetrically notched beam specimens of concrete and mortar, loaded near the notches by concentrated forces that produce a concentrated shear force zone, are tested to failure. The cracks do not propagate from the notches in the direction normal to the maximum principal stress but in a direction in which shear stresses dominate. Thus, the failure is due essentially to shear fracture (Mode II). The crack propagation direction seems to be governed by maximum energy release rate. Tests of geometrically similar specimens yield maximum loads which agree with the recently established size effect law for blunt fracture, previously verified for tensile fracture (Mode I). This further implies that the energy required for crack growth increases with the crack extension from the notch. The R-curve that describes this increase is determined from the size effect. The size effect also yields the shear fracture energy, which is found to be about 25-times larger than that for Mode I and to agree with the value predicted by the crack band model. The fracture specimen is simple to use but not perfect for shear fracture because the deformation has a symmetric component with a non zero normal stress across the crack plane. Nevertheless, these disturbing effects appear to be unimportant. The results are of interest for certain types of structures subjected to blast, impact, earthquake, and concentrated loads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-121
Number of pages11
JournalMaterials and Structures
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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