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Title No.


The Riddle of Shear Failure

and Its Solution
By G. N. j. KANI

This paper intends to answer two questions: (a) What is the internal
mechanism of the so-called shear failure of a reinforced beam, and (b)
What is the strength of this mechanism?
Under increasing load a reinforced concrete beam transforms into a
comb-like structure. In the tensile zone the flexural cracks create more or
less vertical concrete teeth, while the compressive zone represents the
backbone of the concrete comb. The analysis of this structural system has
revealed that two rather different mechanisms are possible: as long as the
capacity of the concrete teeth is not exceeded the beam-like behavior
governs; after the resistance of the concrete teeth has been destroyed a
tied arch, having quite different properties, remains.
For both mechanisms simple analytical expressions have been developed.
Tests carried out at the University of Tor onto on sever a I series of rein-
forced concrete beams have confirmed this theory, as did some other
available test results.
Key words: analysis; beam; diagonal tension; failure; reinforced concrete;
shear strength.

THE ACI-ASCE CoMMITTEE 426 (326) report on "Shear and Diagonal

Tension" 1 reviewed the investigation of the so-called "shear failure"
during the first half of this century. The above report covered all the
major attempts and achievements in the investigation of shear failure.
The introduction of this report closes with the following paragraph
(p. 4):
"The problems of shear and diagonal tension have not been fundamentally
and conclusively solved ... ," "Committee 326 wishes strongly to encourage
further research work, not only to explore other areas of the problem but
to establish a basically rational theory for effects of shear and diagonal
tension on the behavior of reinforced concrete members."

The purpose of this paper is an attempt to establish such a rational

For more than a decade we have known that the shear stress at
failure is far from being a constant even in the case of the same con-
crete, cross section, and reinforcement. In his discussion of a paper by
Clark, Ferguson~ presented a diagram showing that the shear at failure
depends on the well known "shear arm ratio a/ d." He showed that for


ACI member, G. N. J. Kani is professor of civil engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto.

Dr. Kani is the author of several papers and three books. His "Analysis of Multistory Frames"
has been published in six languages and his "Prestressed Concrete" in two. Since World
War II the development and design of prestressed concrete bridges have been his main field
of work. His best known design is the six-track bridge at Heilbronn, which was the first
German railway bridge made in prestressed concrete (1949).

the same beam, the shear stress at failure changes by 225 percent if the
loading conditions change from an a/ d ratio of 2.35 to 1.17.
It is even more interesting to follow the variation of strength of a
reinforced concrete beam over a wider range of different a/d values.
Fig. 1b shows the load-carrying capacities of a series of beams recently
tested at the University of Toronto for a/d = 1.5 to 6.0.* All 14 beams
had the same cross section, concrete strength, and reinforcement. The
load-carrying capacity of the beams, expressed as a percentage of the
full flexural capacity reached a minimum value of about 50 percent
at a/d = 2.5. For a/d = 1.5 and values greater than a/d = 5.0, the full
flexural capacity was attained.
The shear stress at failure for the same beam series varied within
this range of so-called shear failure between v = 181 psi at a/ d = 5.25,
and v = 690 psi at a/d = 1.5, instead of being constant as was once be-
lieved. By using the same allowable shear stress in design, the actual
safety factor would have been in this case about four times higher
for a/ d = 1.5 than for a/ d = 5.25.
Similar results have been obtained by Morrow-Viest at the Univer-
sity of Illinois3 from a series of eight beams (Fig. 2a) and by Leonhard-
Walther at the Technical University of Stuttgart 4 from a series of 14
beams (Fig. 2b) .
In the 1963 ACI Code, ACI-ASCE Committee 426 1 sums up the diffi-
culties of providing a given safety factor against shear failure on p.
300 :as follows:
"It is again emphasized that the design procedures proposed are empirical
because the fundamental nature of shear and diagonal tension strength is
not yet clearly understood. Further basic research should be encouraged
to determine the mechanism which results in shear failures of reinforced
concrete members. With this knowledge it may then become possible to
develop fully rational design procedures."
In the author's opinion the main obstacle to the shear problem is the
large number of parameters involved, some of which may not be known.
Therefore, for some time, the author has concentrated on the investiga-
tion of the internal mechanism of shear failure. 5 6 7 This paper includes
as a last step, the mechanism of the ''remaining arch."
*A full report is now being prepared on the tests of some 200 beams carried oui to date
at the University of Toronto to substantiate the theory here presented.


The usual arrangement for investigating shear failure is shown in Fig.
1a. It has the advantage of combining two different test conditions, viz.,
pure bending, i.e., bending without shear force as present between the
two loads P, and constant shear force in the two end sections.
The behavior of a slender beam subject to a gradually increasing load
is well known. The first cracks will appear long before the allowable
load is reached. These cracks are narrow and unimportant provided
the tensile strain is less than about 0.1 percent. Due to bond, the steel
and concrete attain the same strain so that with a value of 0.1 percent
the stress in the steel would be about 30,000 psi.


r-a p p

I J d=J0.7"


% ~R
k@l DY
80 1


60 i~ Ll
~~ ~

1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 5.0 6.0

Fig. 1-Beam capacities versus afrl ratios of the Toronto Test Series C

(kft) M
r-_:R__ -~ ME~URED..LEXURAI:_CAPAC~'C.:_~0,-kft _ ,...
w v

~ 160
~ 140
/ r-r-
f~ = 4000 +psi

z c
'o ~ v- pl.85%

120 ~v / ~
. ./.
~I 1'2.0'1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8


~ 60
\ /
8 ~ 1/ f~ = 4300psi

0z 40
\__ / ~

2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Fig. 2-Beam capacities versus afd ratios obtained from beam series tested:
at the University of lllinois 3 (top); at the Technical University of Stuttgart 4

Fig. 3-Mechanism of flex-

ural failure

M=P a
T T=P ~

Under further loading, the cracks increase both in width and length
indicating that the area of the compressive zone decreases. This effect
is especially visible when the stress in the steel reaches and exceeds
the yield point stress. The internal mechanism of such a beam nearing
flexural failure may be seen from Fig. 3. The formation of flexural
cracks has trans;formed the reinforced concrete beam into a comb-like
structure: the compressive zone of the beam is the backbone of the
comb, while in the tensile zone the "concrete teeth," separated from each
other by the flexural cracks, represent the teeth of the comb.
When the bending process is continued the stress in the compressive
zone increases rapidly. This increase is mainly due to the decrease in
the area of the compressive zone as a result of cracks and to a lesser
degree due to the increase in the load. Thus the stress in the com-
pressive zone eventually reaches the compressive strength of concrete
and the destruction of the compressive zone brings about the flexural
failure of the beam.

Fig. 4 shows a series of test beams for which the failure was induced
by cracks outside the central section of the beam. Because the bending
moment is greatest in the central section, the cause of failure could
not be attributed to the bending moment. The only noticeable differ-
ence that could be found was that there was a shear force in the end
section of the beam where the crack appeared, which caused the
failure while there was no shear force in the central section. Therefore,
it was decided that the shear force, or the shear stress, must be respon-
sible for such a failure. Thus the term "shear failure" was chosen. Only
much later it was recognized that shear stress at failure is far from
being constant.
There is no disagreement on what constitutes flexural failure. But
there is a strong disagreement on what shear failure is, even as far as

the meaning of that term itself is concerned. Some research workers

think, for instance, that a failure of the bond between steel and con-
crete represents a typical shear failure, while others consider it as a
third type of failure.
Because shear failure appears to be an unsuitable term for a failure
in which shear has little or no influence and also because a diagonal
crack is the visible feature of all failures which are not flexural failures,
the author would like to classify these two main groups of failures of
reinforced concrete beams under (1) flexural failure, and (2) diagonal
failure. Of course, there is still the possibility that more than one type
of diagonal failure exists.

2' 1 1 2
1 "' 30!c-/.5-A .-.')

.,, )" r'!

., ' ,,.,

IU /v i l '
I,,, )

\' >,
I v
. . ''-1

d = 1.5 98%

t t

Fig. 4--Beams of Toronto Test Series C



Diagonal failure occurs when the central section of a test beam under
pure bending is stronger than the end sections. The simplest mechanism
of internal forces in such an end section exists in a reinforced concrete
beam without bond. Let us consider this case first.
Due to lack of bond, no interchange of forces exists between the steel
bars and concrete except at the bar ends. The tensile force T of the
reinforcing bars (Fig. 5) is constant from one end to the other. At both
ends some anchorage is necessary, e.g., anchor plates. This is the place
where the force T is transferred from the reinforcement to the concrete.
If we consider only the concrete part as a free body and imagine
that we have removed the reinforcement, but not its reactions, there
will be no change in the forces acting at the concrete body. Considering
one end part of the beam (Fig. 5a) there will be four forces acting on it,
viz., T, C, P, and A. The resultant of T and A has to be, of course,
in equilibrium with the resultant of P and C, i.e., those two component
resultants have to be equal and opposite. The concrete body is, as Fig.
5b shows, mainly under diagonal compression and the thrust line is a
straight diagonal line. It can be seen that the stress condition in such a
concrete body is rather favorable so that diagonal failure of a rein
forced concrete beam without bond cannot be expected.
Our test with such a diagonally loaded end section as indicated in
Fig. 5b failed under a load which was 4.5 times higher than the calcu-
lated diagonal force in a corresponding beam under allowable load.

p p

C (a)
--------d-------, C



I>T I>T ~>T I>T

(d) T=O ~~'"=~=~=~=--- Tmax

Fig. 5-Reinforced concrete beam with- Fig. 6-lnternal forces of a reinforced.

out bond concrete beam with bond.

Fig. 7-The function of con-

crete teeth

The flexural capacity of the same beam was only 2.8 times the allowable
In the case of the reinforced concrete beam with bond there is only
one difference: the tensile force T is added to the concrete body not
as a concentrated force at the end of the bars, but due to bond, gradually
as a distributed load along the reinforcing bars (Fig. 6).
If the bond were fully effective, we would have in the end sections
of the beam, where the shear force V is constant, the force T uniformly
distributed along the reinforcing bars. In Fig. 6a this is indicated by
the equal 6.T forces. The thrust line, which by its definition shows the
location of the resultant force, is now no longer the straight diagonal
line we had before. Starting at the left end, the reaction A is com-
bined with a small 6.T force so that the resultant starts steeply up-
wards. More 6.T forces join the free body with increasing distance of the
cross section from the reaction A so that the thrust line bends up to
the right. The shape of the thrust line depends, of course, on the dis-
tribution of the 6.T forces. Its location, however, is always above the
straight thrust line of the beam without bond.
Considering the equilibrium of a part of the beam we see that the
tensile force is

where z designates the internal level arm.

As long as the comb-like structure functions as a beam, the force T
is more or less proportional to the bending moment Mx. Thus the force
T has its greatest value in the central part of the beam and decreases
to zero in the vicinity of the supports (Fig. 6c).
Considering now the reinforcement as the free body, we obtain the
condition as presented in Fig. 6d. With T = 0 at the end of the bar
and T = T"'"'" in the central part, the force T changes along the rein-
forcing bar. From Fig. 6d we can see that in such a case equilibrium is
only possible if on the surface of the bar such 6.T forces exist so as to
keep equilibrium with the force T,11ax

Fig. 8 - Bending of originally plane
cross sections

The LlT forces, i.e., the bond forces between concrete and rinforcing
steel, are internal forces and as such appear twice: once acting on th
bars and once, with opposite sense acting on the concrete body. Taking
now the concret part as a free body (Fig. 7) and replacing the action
of the bars by the corresponding internal forces, the LlT forces will
be directed toward the midspan while the LlT forces on the rinforce-
ment will be directed, toward the bar ends (Fig. 6d).
Fig. 7 illustrates the mechanism of our comb-like concrete structure:
the concrete teeth, separated by flexural cracks, are loaded by horizon-
tal LlT forces. The function of every concrte tooth can be compared
to that of a short Vrtical cantilever anchored in the compressive zone
of the beam and acted on by a horizontal LlT force.
As long as the concrete teeth are capable of carrying the LlT forces,
the comb-like structure is essentially a beam with a distinctive com-
pressive zone, with the highst compressive strain at the top fiber.
This short study of the intrnal mechanism of a reinforced concrete
beam shows that the usual assumption of the beam theory that "plane
cross sections remain plane" is inaccurate because it leads to an in-
consistent shear strength thory. Concrete teeth being short cantilevers
loaded by horizontal LlT forces are subject to bending. An originally
straight axis of a concrete tooth will become a curved line due to the
bending action of th LlT forces. Assuming the axis of the concrete
tooth to remain straight would correspond to a condition of "no bending,"
which on the other hand means LlT = 0. However, without LlT forces
our comb-like beam cannot even be in equilibrium, as has been shown
before. Since the existence of the LlT forces is the main diffrence
between a reinforced concrete beam with and without bond, we see
that for the reinforced concrete beam the assumption that plane cross
sections remain plan is a contradiction.
Although this simple deduction may be sufficient proof the author
confirmed this fact experimentally using the "Toronto Series b." Ac-
cording to Fig. 8 for every cross section undr consideration three points
A, B, and C, located on a straight line were chosen to measure under

progressive loading the horizontal displacements C 1 - C{, C2 - C2 ', etc.

with respect to the original straight lines A 1 - B 1 - C 1 , A 2 - B 2 - C 2 ,
The horizontal displacements of Points A, B, and C were measured
from the vertical axis of symmetry at midspan as the reference line.
The gage points of one level (e.g., the A points) were a continuous
measuring line with the points 8 in. apart. The total horizontal displace-
ment of a particular point is given by the sum of the measured length
differences of all gage distances between this point and midspan. If the
displacements of Points A and B of a particular cross section are known
the location of Point C is easily calculated if the cross section were to
remain plane. The difference between this calculated displacement and
the measured value is the deviation from Navier's assumption that
"plane cross sections remain plane."
The results of these measurements are shown in Fig. 9, for the last
load value recorded prior to failure; the displacements represent the
mean values for the three beams WlOlb, WlOlb' and W30lb. In the
central section of the beam practically no horizontal displacement ex-
isted, while just outside of this central area the maximum values oc-
curred. The displacement decreases for cross sections closer to the
In Fig. 9b a calculation of the displacement of a concrete tooth is
given for comparison purposes. The problem is simplified by taking the
spacing and length of cracks, i.e., ~x and s, from the beams tested. By
assuming that the bending stress has just reached the tensile strength
of concrete a horizontal displacement li = 0.00215 in. is obtained. In spite
of the simplifications this value compares well with the measured dis-
Let us now determine the resistance of a concrete tooth by using the
same simplified prototype as in Fig. 9b.
Employing the usual relations of the beam theory, the maximum ten-
sile stress in a concrete tooth due to a 6.T force (Fig. lOa) is given by
f M ATs
t = --s = b(Ax)2f6

The maximum resistance ~T, of the concrete tooth is reached when

the stress ft reaches the tensile strength ft' of the concrete. Thus the
resistance of concrete teeth per unit length of the beam can be ex-
pressed as
AT = li_. Ax . b
Ax 6 5
When, under increasing load, this resistance is reached, the concrete
teeth should break off.

If T represents the full tensile force of the reinforcement in the central

section of the beam, which towards the support is gradually reduced
to zero due to bond action, the average bond load between concrete
and reinforcement will be T I a. When this bond load, which actually
constitutes the horizontal load of the concrete teeth reaches the resistance



-20 ,.-





1'-I- I -
2 :,
2- 13 -



s-! - -
1\. I
x 0
'\ I
I ~ r--
0+10 \ ..-~-

!J I r<lr::
\1 .,... I
~ 1: \~ I
z ><
Q +20 00
~1/: 1\r;:) 1/
> //
0 +30
ME ~N rvAu E 1 OR BE1 MS
WI Plb WIOI'b: ND IW~I hlh
\ v

~=6Ts 3= _gt_ ~
3EI 3E 6x

f~=3900 psi f,'=O.I5f>585 psi

Jl._ 585 =1.54xlo- 4

E- 3800000

6x=3.2in. s=8.2in.

AT TENSILE FAILURE: b= ~~~50 in.

Fig. 9-Horizontal displacement of concrete teeth


of concrete teeth, i.e.:

T tlT ft' t.x

a tlx
6.-s-. b ... (1)

the concrete teeth are about to break away. Now, of course, the mean
value has to be taken for t.x/s. The maximum bending moment existing
in the central section of the beam can be expressed by

MeR= S7 d T

or by using the above expression for T:

- - bad (2)

Let us designate that part of this moment which depends only on

the properties of the cross section with

Mo = _'}__ .K bd~ .......................................... (3)

8 6


I b6x'!
(a) 6T "1_1,;!x b
6X 6 5 2
WITH: 6 T =..l M =TLd AND M=L..bJ[f'
6X 0 CR 8 8 6 I


M =M 6X . ..Q.
CR o5 d




Fig. I0-Capacity of concrete teeth


Thus, the critical bending moment at which the concrete teeth break
away can be expressed by
~x a
8 -.d
MeR= Mo . - ................................... (4)

We recognize that this critical moment appears to be a linear function

of the shear arm ratio a/ d. This means that if the cross section, the
concrete and the reinforcement are kept constant for a series of beams
and only a/d is allowed to vary, a linear relationship will be obtained
as presented in Fig. lOb.
The value of MOB increases with increasing a/d until at some point
the full flexural capacity of the cross section is reached. Since this is
the greatest moment the cross section can carry, the load-carrying
capacity of the beam remains constant from this point on. Beyond this
point there is no danger of the concrete teeth breaking away.

Let us consider the events after the resistance of the concrete teeth
have disappeared. The t.T forces cannot exist any longer and the
T force is constant from one anchored end of the reinforcement to the
other. Thus, we obtain the conditions of a reinforced concrete beam
without bond considered before, provided the anchorage of the rein-
forcement is such that anchorage failure does not occur. From here
on in this paper it is assumed that provisions have been made to pre-
vent anchorage failures, since, by their nature, they represent quite
a different type of failure.
After the resistance of the concrete teeth has disappeared the active
cross section is reduced and only a tied arch remains (Fig. 11).
This transformation of a reinforced concrete beam into a tied arch
may occur suddenly or may develop gradually. Because of the essential
difference in the behavior of the two types of structures this transforma-
tion can be observed by measuring the strain changes.
As long as the reinforced concrete beam is considered as a beam,
distinctive tensile and compressive zones exist with the highest com-
pressive strain at the top fiber. After transformation the thrust line of

Fig. 11-Remaining concrete arch


the concrete body is lowered, as indicated in Fig. 11. In this case the
highest value of compressive strain is to be found at the bottom fibr
along the diagonal crack.
To investigate this transformation of the reinforced concrete beam
the Toronto Seris C was tested. The arrangement of gage lines A, B,
C, D, E, and F can be seen from Fig. 12a. Altogether 10 beams in this
series were tested with shear arm ratios from a/d = 1.5 to 6.0. As an
example the measurements of strain changes observed on Beam 301c-
2.5A are plotted in Fig. 12b. As indicated the three strain lines repre-
sent the three load stages of 1.00, 1.50, and 1.75 times th allowable
design load, as defined in Chapter 7 (Flexural Computations) and Chap-
ter 3 (Allowable Stresses) of the 1956 ACI Building Code.
The strain distribution across the inclined cross section indicates clear
beam behavior for stage 1.00: a distinctive compressive zone in the upper

\ I
-----~~---;:;.::_-c -\


Fig. 12-Transformation of a beam into an arch as measured on a specimen


part of the cross section, a neutral axis at about midheight and a normal
tensile zone below. The strain distributions for the load stages 1.50 and
1.75 appear different: the greatest increase of compressive strain was
observed at the level of the original neutral axis while in the vicinity
of the "compressive face" the compressive strain decreased. (In some
other beams even tensile strains were measured at the top fibers. After
the transformation the highest compressive strain was measured at the
bottom fiber of the remaining concrete arch. Of course, in the vicinity
of the reinforcement high tensile strains could be observed.
The six beams with shear arm ratios 1.5, 2.0, and 2.5 exhibited similar
behavior. In all six cases the transformation could be clearly observed
and a compressive concrete strain of at least 0.1 percent was obtained
although measurement could only be taken until some time prior to
For the beams with higher a/d ratios the failure was so sudden,
that the transformation could not be measured. The explanation for
this sudden failure will become clearer after the capacity of the re-
maining arch is discussed.
Based on the evidence of the formation of concrete teeth, the existence
of the "transformation" was developed above as a logical consequence.
Tests on beams with a/ d = 1.5 to 2.5 have confirmed the theoretical
deduction of the transformation phenomenon.


The transformation of the reinforced concrete beam into a tied arch
certainly weakens the comb-like structure. However, this does not mean
that the remaining arch collapses immediately when the loading ex-
ceeds the capacity of the concrete teeth. Sometimes the capacity of the
remaining arch is considerably higher. Let us therefore investigate the
internal mechanism of the remaining arch at failure by taking again a
closer look at the internal conditions of the reinforced concrete beam.
In Fig. 13a the stress trajectories of an uncracked reinforced concrete
beam are shown. By definition trajectories are lines, which at any
point have the direction of the principal stresses, thus indicating the
flow of stresses. Since at most points of the beam one of the principal
stresses is tension, and the other compression, we refer to the two
systems of orthogonal trajectories as compressive and tensile trajectories
(see Fig. \3a). Because the strength of concrete is lowest in tension,
the cracks are always normal to the direction of principal tensile stresses.
Since the compressive trajectories are also normal to the tensile stresses
the tensile cracks follow the shape of the compressive trajectories.
While the cracks develop the stress pattern changes, thus influencing
the propagation, i.e., the shape of the cracks. Let us therefore consider

why and when a trajectory is curved. In Fig. 13b a strip of concrete be-
tween two compressive trajectories is shown. Considering the equilib-
rium of one element we see that the change of the direction of the com-
pressive force from C1 to C~, i.e., Aa, stems from the difference T1 - T 2
If we now imagine that a crack has developed underneath and along
the lower trajectory a- a' it is obvious that a T 1 force cannot exist any
longer, and the compressive trajectory must straighten out more and
more as the crack lengthens. This may be observed in all test beams.
At first the crack starts rising perpendicular to the tension face of the
beam, passing the reinforcement in the end section of the beam with
a curvature and then straightening out, sometimes abruptly, in the
direction of the applied load. The conditions in the vicinity of such a
crack are shown in Fig. 13c. At an advanced stage of cracking the com-
pressive trajectories will change their shape as indicated in Fig. 13d.
Under increased load, and after several vertical cracks have appeared
in the central part of the beam, the first crack in the end section will
become visible somewhere in the vicinity of the load P. The first crack

1! I


Fig. 14--Conditions after the first crack

m II I


Fig. 13-Development of stress trajec-
tories in a reinforced concrete beam
Fig. IS-Conditions after the second

Fig. 16-Conditions prior to diagona I


will follow closely the shape and the trajectory of the uncracked beam,
because at that stage the stress conditions have been disturbed only
a little. It will start vertically at the bottom, and arrive at the neutral
axis at 45 deg. The only change to be expected at that stage is
a higher position of the neutral axis than in the case of the uncracked
beam. The condition of the concrete body under consideration is shown
in Fig. 14. The thrust line between Sections I and II is a straight line
because there are no LiT forces in this part after the first crack has
The directions of two particular trajectories can be established imme-
diately: S-0 along the top fiber of the beam and N -0, which inter-
sects the neutral line at N at 45 deg. The other compressive trajectories
of Part I-II pass between those two and are, as described above, more
or less straight lines converging approximately towards Point 0.
When the next crack develops (Fig. 15) it will again start at the bot-
tom fiber and follows the line of a compressive trajectory, i.e., it
bends over more and more towards Point 0.
After this crack has formed the flow of tensile stresses between this
strip and the rest of the beam has been interrupted. The previously
existing iiT1 force disappears because F 1 becomes zero. This strip of
concrete between the two cracks loses its support and consequently no
significant compressive force F 0 , can exist. This means that the cross
section I has been reduced by Liy.
The next crack will then develop in the same way, reducing the com-
pressive zone I by an additional amount liy 1 . This process of "peeling
away" of the concrete strips will continue until a strip has been reached,
which finds an unyielding support, i.e., the support of the beam, illus-
trated in Fig. 16. Finally a cross section y, instead of the original Yo,
remains. We see that the process of tranformation is not just a "breaking
away" of concrete teeth. It is rather a process of transforming the teeth
into concrete strips which offer practically no resistance.
Of course, this development of concrete strips in such an idealized
form as shown in Fig. 16 happens only seldom. Although sometimes

several nearly parallel cracks can be observed in the vicinity of the

force P, usually only the last crack develops fully; this determines the
capacity of the remaining arch.
After this development of shear failure, or more exactly the trans-
formation of the beam into an arch, the next goal should be the develop-
ment of a formula for the capacity of the remaining arch. It is clear that
a calculation which would include all the changes of the trajectories,
the changing position of the neutral axis, the variation of the stress dis-
tribution over the compressive zone, the increase of strength due to
biaxial compression under the force P, and the dfect of buckling of such
a slender arch could not be simple. Therefore, only simplified formulas
involving a few parameters can be considered for practical use.
The author has developed two such formulas. Only the results and
the simpler formula, will be presented here. The development itself
will follow in some later publication.
In Fig. 16 the trajectories of the remaining arch are presented as they
appear shortly before failure. Point 0 again designates the intersection
of the two known trajectories S-0 and N-0, as described previously.
The simplest analytical approach is attained by assuming that Point 0
represents the intersection of all compressive trajectories just prior to
failure. Designating with s the width of the unyielding base of the con-
crete strip adjacent to the last crack, we obtain the geometrical rela-

___]j_____ d
........................ (5)
Yo a-s+ Yo

where y is the depth of the reduced compressive zone at failure and Yo

the depth of the compressive zone in flexural failure. Assuming that
the average stress at failure in the compressive zone y is the same as in
flexural failure, i.e., over Yo and neglecting the small difference in the
internal lever arm, we obtain the relation of the critical moment of arch
failure to the moment of flexural failure as

Men _]f_

Since s and Yo are generally of similar magnitude, there seems justifi-

cation for making the simplifying assumption that s and Yo are equal.
Then the formula for the critical bending moment of the arch at failure
is given by

Men= MFL ~ .. . ........ (6)


The critical cross section is located in a region of biaxial compression

underneath the force P. It is known that in such a case higher stresses
are necessary to bring about failure than in the case of uniaxial com-
pression as present in flexural failure. The simplest way to take this
biaxial influence into account is by a factor like:

MeR = MFL _!!__ ................................................... (7)

k a

If we express the critical moment as a decimal fraction of the ful

flexural capacity we obtain:

:~: = kda (7a)

The factor k depends largely on the distribution of stresses in the

vicinity of the critical cross section. Therefore the width of the plate
under the loading point may be of great influence on the load-carrying
capacity of the remaining arch.
It appears from the Toronto test results that a conservative increase
of about 10 percent would be a reasonable amount to account for the
influence of the biaxial stress conditions. Thus the following formula
for the load-carrying capacity of the remaining arch is proposed as
the working formula:

MeR = MFL _.!!.._ .................................................. (8)

0..9 a


Fig. 17 shows the comparison of test results obtained from the Toronto
Test Series C and the calculated capacity lines using Eq. (4) for the
capacity of concrete teeth and Eq. (8) for the remaining arch.
Two points on the load-carrying capacity line of the concrete teeth are
of special interest: the minimum point, i.e., the intersection point with
the remaining arch line, and the transition point, where the load-carrying
capacity line of concrete teeth reaches the line of full flexural capacity.
The transition from diagonal failure to flexural failure takes place at
this point, i.e.,

MFL = MeR = Mo LlX


Let us designate the important a/d ratio at the transition point with


IJ.TR = ~:~~ .................................................... (9)

If over-reinforced cross sections are excluded, the steel tress at
flexural failure reaches the yield stress fu Substituting Mo as defined
by Eq. (3) into Eq. (9) 'We obtain:

S7 d Asfy
= T'
_]__ . .if__ . bd2
8 6

Therefore, if the yield stress is reached at flexural failure, the loca-

tion of the transition point in the load-carrying capacity diagram is
determined by

a.TR = 6 Pfy - 8- .................................................. (9a)

ft' tl.x

From this expression we see that the location of the transition point
depends on the percentage of reinforcement, the ratio of the yield stress
of steel to the tensile strength of concrete and, of course, on the crack
factor. Thus, when reliable values for crack factors are available, the
location of the transition point can easily be determined by Eq. (9) or
In the particular case of the Toronto Test Series C the data were:

p = 1.88 percent; fy = 50,800 psi; and

ft' = 0.15 fc' = 0.15 X 3600 = 540 psi;
The spacing of cracks L\.x, measured on the test specimens, varied
considerably, even for two equal beams from the same batch. Before
some final proposals for L\.x and s can be suggested a greater number of
tests of different types of beams has to be evaluated. Let us at this
stage take as an example the values measured on the four ends of Beams
301c-2.5A and B (Fig. 4) . The mean value is

tl.x = 12.5 + 19.5 + 11.8 + 15.4 = 5.9 in.


In the end sections of the Toronto beams, the length of the cracks
varies between the full length Smax underneath the forces P and s = 0 in
the vicinity of the supports. We know from the development of the
cracks, as discussed before, that the breaking away of a concrete tooth
is indicated by a sharp turn of the crack in the direction of the force P.
Thus, for the capacity of a concrete tooth only the length of the crack
up to this turning point should be taken into account. Considering this,

~-""""-~ CAPACITY



.... _
20 ~---J#----t--'tiz=t---+----+--""1r-...-ct--=---f ARCH 1 WITH k=0.9
~ il
~ 'lS!
Fig. 17-Comparison of theoretical and test results

it appears that S 111 a.vl2 may provide a reasonable mean value for the
length s of the cracks.
For the same two beams for which ~x was determined above, the full
length of each crack in the vicinity of the four load points P was about
7.6 in. Since the centroid of the reinforcement was positioned 1.4 in.
above the bottom edge of the _beam, the effective length of the longest
crack was 7.6 - 1.4 = 6.2 in. Thus, the mean value of .s for the calculation
would be

S = Smax
= ~ = 3.1 in.
Using these data and Eq. (9a) the transition point of the Toronto
Series Cis obtained at

U.TR = (--a-)
d TR
= 6pfy s
ft' (fl.X)
= 6 X 1.88 X 50,800 X ~
100 540 5.9
= 5 .6

Fig. 17, which shows the test results of the Series C, indicates that the
location of the transition point occurred in reality at a slightly lower
value at about a/d = 5.2. Due to the large scatter in ~x and s, this dif-
ference between the calculated and actual location of the transition
point may be often much greater than the above calculation.
The significance of the transition point is that beyond this point no
diagonal failure can be expected. Besides, as can be seen from Fig. 17,
once the transition point is known the load-carrying capacity line of

the concrete teeth may be immediately determined. Because of the

linear relationship the load-carrying capacity is given by

MeR = ~::: ................................................. (10)

The next point to be determined is the minimum point of the load-
carrying capacity line, i.e., the intersection of the load-carrying capacity
lines of the concrete teeth and the remaining arch. At that point both
capacities, expressed by Eq. (10) and (7) have to be equal:
UTRd = -MFL d
k - -a

Let us designate the a/d ratio of the minimum point with


!lmin = v !l~R ................................................ (11)

With k = 0.9, as used in Eq. (8), we obtain the calculated location

of the minimum point of the example of the Toronto Series C at

!lmin = V* = 2.S
This value corresponds with the experimental determination (see Fig.
The minimum load-carrying capacity can be determined, by using
Eq. (10) which is valid for any point between the minimum point and
transition point. Thus we obtain:

min MeR = !

MFL ............................................... (12)

For our example of the Toronto Series Cit is

mi11MeR =~
MFL = 0.45 MFL
Thus the calculated value for the minimum capacity of the Toronto
Series C is 45 percent while the test results delivered a minimum value
of 48 percent.
The three lines in Fig. 17 create three a/d regions, each with different
1. For small a/d ratios the capacity of the concrete teeth is lower than
the capacity of the arch. Therefore, under gradually increasing loads, the
transformation of the beam into an arch occurs gradually and the structure
fails when the capacity of the arch is exceeded.

2. In the medium region (a/d between Umin and UTR) the capacity of 1

the arch is lower than the capacity of the concrete teeth, but, of course,
failure does not occur until the capacity of the concrete teeth is exceeded
at which stage the transformation begins. Since the arch capacity is
lower than the applied load a sudden collapse must follow. We see that
by understanding the mechanism of diagonal failure it is easy to realize
why a diagonal failure is sometimes a sudden one and sometimes not.
3. In the region beyond the transition point UTR, only normal flexural
failure is possible.

Let us sum up the proposed procedure for analyzing diagonal strength:
1. The transition point aTR is the a/ d ratio which limits the region of
diagonal failure. Beyond it only flexural failure can be expected. The
numerical value of aTR can be determined by Eq. (9) and depends on
several parameters. Excluding over-reinforced cross sections, the transi-
tion point can be determined by

.... (9a)

2. The region of diagonal failure has two distinct subdivisions.

(a) In the region of low a/d ratios the capacity of the structure
is determined by the strength of the remaining arch:

MeR= _M:L . ~ ........................................ (7).

(b) In the region of medium a/d ratios the capacity of the con-
crete teeth determines the capacity of the structure:

MeR= MFL -~ ..... . (10)

f1TR d

The common boundary point of the two regions is given by

C1min = 11 C1~R . . .. . .. . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ( 11)

At this a/d ratio the minimum capacity is also encountered:

min Men = amin

MFL .. . ...... (12)

3. As presented in this paper, the capacity of diagonal failure obtained

from Eq. (7), (10), and (12) is always expressed as a part of the full
flexural capacity, i.e., by a factor of Mn, which has to be, of course,
always smaller than 1.0.
4. The crack factor t:.x/ s influences the location of the important
transition point. With the same Smax the mean value of the crack lengths

s will differ for a uniformly distributed load and concentrated load.

Therefore, a final proposal for the crack factor cannot be made at this
stage, but will follow in some later work.

The best verification of any theory is to confront it with experimental
data, which have not been considered during the development of the
theory. Since previously no factor was introduced to accommodate
the influence of bond it will be of interest to consider it now.
A well-known fact about bond refers to the spacing of cracks. Good
bond creates closely spaced cracks, while poor or nonexistent bond
results in only a few cracks or no cracks at all in the end section of the
beam, i.e., in the part where a shear force exists. That means that
under conditions of poor bond the crack distances AX will be relatively
The load-carrying capacity of concrete teeth at failure is given by
Ll.x a
MeR= Mo . -s- . cr .. .. ..... (4)

For two beams, identical in every respect except bond resistance, the
one with poor bond, and therefore large AX, will have a higher load-
carrying capacity than the beam with good bond. The surprising result
is: the better the bond the lower the diagonal load-carrying capacity.
Fortunately, one of the recently tested beam series at the Technical
University of Stuttgart, 4 offers an opportunity to check this result.
The test series consisted of eight beams, all having the same cross
section (7.5 X 12.6 in), same percentage of reinforcement (1.90 percent),
same concrete (fa'= 3000 psi) and same span (about 6 ft 6 in.). Half of

Fig. IS-Deformed and smooth bars used in the bond test series described
in Reference 4


Type of load- Corresponding Load at failure, Ratio of
ing beams Reinforcement kips capacities
De- De- bars
formed Smooth p, No. of formed Smooth deformed
bars bars percent bars bars bars bars
Concentrated EAl EEl 1.90 2 26.4 51.0 1.93
a EA2 EB2 1.88 5 33.5 44.6 1.33
cr = 2.78
Uniformly GAl GEl 1.90 2 55.2 76.0 1.38
load GA2 GB2 1.88 5 65.3 85.7 1.31

them were reinforced with deformed bars, the other half with very
smooth bars (Fig. 18). To investigate the influence of bar diameter
on the load-carrying capacity, two arrangements of steel at the same
steel percentage were used. In each group of four beams two were rein-
forced with two heavy bars (corresponding to two #8) and the other two
with five bars of a smaller diameter (corresponding to five # 5). Two
beams of each type of reinforcement were always identical so that one
could be tested under two concentrated loads (a/d = 2.78) the other
under uniformly distributed load. In all beams provisions were made to
prevent bond failure at the bar ends. The test results obtained from
those eight beams are presented in Table 1.
In all cases poorer bond resulted in an increase of load-carrying
capacity just as Eq. ( 4) predicted. The beams with poor bond carried at
least 31 percent more load than the corresponding beams with deformed
bars. The beams with poor bond reached their flexural failure, while
the beams with deformed bars stayed far below their full flexural

1. ACI-ASCE Committee 426, "Shear and Diagonal Tension," ACI JouRNAL,
Proceedings V. 59: No. 1, Jan. 1962, pp. 1-30; No. 2, Feb. 1962, pp. 277-340; No. 3,
Mar. 1962, pp. 353-396.
2. Ferguson, P. M., Discussion of "Diagonal Tension in Reinforced Concrete
Beams," by A. P. Clark, ACI JouRNAL, Proceedings V. 48, No. 2, Oct. 1951, pp.
156-1 to 156-3. '
3. Morrow, J., and Viest, I. M., "Shear Strength of Reinforced Concrete Frame
Members Without Web Reinforcement," ACI JouRNAL, P1oceedings V. 53, No. 9,
Mar. 1957, pp. 833-870.
4. Leonhardt, F., and Walther, "Contribution to the Treatment of Shear Prob-
lems in Reinforced Concrete" ("Beitrage zur Behandlung der Schubprobleme
in Stahlbetonbau"), Beton-und Stahlbetonbau (Berlin), V. 56, No. 12, Dec. 1961,

and V. 57: No. 2, Feb. 1962; No. 3, Mar. 1962; No. 6, June 1962; No. 7, July 1962;
and No. 8, Aug. 1962. (in German).
5. Kani, G., Prestressed Concrete (Spannbeton), Edition K. Wittwer, Stutt-
gart, 1955, pp. 487-540 (in German).
6. Kani, G., "The Essence of the So-called Shear Strength" ("tiber das Wesen
der sogenannten Schubsicherung"), Der Bauingenieur (Berlin), 1958, pp. 375-382.
7. Kani, G., "The Mechanism of the So-called Shear Failure," Paper No. 3,
1962 Annual General Meeting, Engineering Institute of Canada, Montreal.

Received by the Institute Mar. 25, 1963. Presented at the ACI fall meeting, Toronto, Ont., Nov.
13, 1963. Title No. 61-28 is a part of copyrighted Journal of the American Concrete Institute,
Proceedings V. 61, No. 4, Apr. 1964. Separate prints are available at 75 cents each, cash
with order.

American Concrete Institute, P. 0. Box 4754, Redford Station, Detroit, Mich. 48219

Discussion of this paper should reach ACI headquarters in triplicate

by July 1964, for publication in the December 1964 JOURNAL.

Sinopsis- Resumes- Zusammenfassung

El Misterio de Ia Falla por Cortante y su Soluci6n
Este articulo pretende responder a dos preguntas: (a) lCual es el mecanismo
interno de la Hamada falla par cortante de una viga reforzada? y (b) lCual es
la resistencia de este mecanismo?
Baja carga creciente, una viga de concreto reforzada se transforma en una
estructura analoga a un peine. En la zona de tension, las grietas par flexion
crean mas o menos dientes verticales de concreto, mientras que la zona de
compresion representa el apoyo del peine de concreto. La anatomia de este sis-
tema estructural ha revelado que i son posibles dos diferentes mecanismos: mien-
tras la capacidad del concreto no sea excedida, el comportamiento gobierna tipo
viga; despues que la resistencia de los dientes de concreto ha sido destruida,
permanece un arco de union, de propiedades completamente diferentes.
Para ambos mecanismos se han desarrollado expresiones analiticas simples,
Ensayes llevados a cabo en la Universidad de Toronto en varias series de vigas
de concreto reforzado han confirmado esta teoria, asi como lo han hecho otros
resultados de ensayes disponibles.

L'Enigme de Ia Rupture par Cisaillement se sa Solution

Cet article a pour but de repondre a deux questions: (a) Quel est le mecanisme
internal de la soi-disant rupture par cisaillement d'une poutre renforcee, et (b)
quelle est l'intensite de ce mecanisme.
Sous une charge grandissante, une poutre renforcee se transforme en une
structure pareille a un peigne. Dans la zone de tension, des fissures flexurales
creent plus ou mains des "dents" verticales de beton, tandis que la zone de
compression represente le dos de ce peigne en beton. L'anatomie de ce systeme
structurale a revele qu'il existe deux differents mecanismes possibles: tant que
la capacite des dents de beton n'est pas excedee, le comportement de poutre
controle; apres la destruction de la resistance des dents de beton, il reste une
arche chainette, ayant des qualites differentes.

On a developpe des expressions analytiques simples pour taus les deux

mecanismes. Des epreuves mises a execution a l'Universite de Toronto sur
plusieurs series de poutres renforcees ont confirme cette theorie, de meme que
d'autres resultats d'epreuves disponibles.

Das Ratsel des Schubbruches und dessen Losung

Mit diesem Aufsatz wird beabsichtigt zwei Fragen zu beantworten: (a) Wa~
ist der innere Mechanismus des sogenannten Schubbruches eines Stahlbeton-
balkens, und (b) Wie hoch ist die Festigkeit dieses Mechanismus.
Unter steigender Belastung verwandelt sich ein Stahlbetonbalken in cine
kammartige Konstruktion: In der Zugzone werden durch die Biegerisse einzelne
Betonzahne gebildet, wahrend die Druckzone den Kammriicken darstellt. Die
Anatomie dieser Konstruktion hat hervorgebracht, dass zwei sehr verschiedene
Mechanismen moglich sind: Solange die Tragfahigkeit der Betonzahne vorhan-
den ist, herrscht balkenartiges Verhalten; nach dem Versagen der Betonzahne
verbleibt ein Bogen mit Zugband, der natiirlich ganz andere Eigenschaften
Es wurden fiir beide Mechanismen einfache Formeln entwickelt, die sehr gut
mit den Versuchen iibereinstimmen, die an der Universitat von Toronto als
mehrfache Versuchsreihen durchgefiihrt wurden. Diese wie auch andere zur
Verfiigung stehenden Versuche haben die hier aufgestellte Schubtheorie be-