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2.2.1. Fracture modes
2.2.2. Crack opening mode analysis (Mode I)
2.2.3. Plate with crack under biaxial stress (Mode I)
2.2.4. Crack tip stress field (Mode I)
2.2.5. Superposition of stress intensity factors
2.2.6. General solution of the stress field at a crack tip
2.2.7. Effect of finite size components
2.2.8. Application of the stress analysis approach
2.2.9. Determination of stress intensity factors (SIF)

2.2.1. Fracture modes

There are three different modes of cracking: Mode I, Mode II and Mode III (Fig.
• Mode I (opening mode)
• Mode II (sliding or in-plane shearing mode)
• Mode III (tearing or anti-plane shearing mode)

Fig. 2.2.1. Basic modes of crack behavior

The superposition of these three modes is sufficient to describe the most general
case of cracked surface displacement. Mode I has received the most attention
because it is the most severe case of cracking. Therefore, a detailed study of the
stress and elastic strain field is given for this mode. The other two modes can be
treated in similar manners.


2.2.2. Crack opening mode (Mode I) analysis

As a special case of Muskhelishvili (1953) general solution for plane elastic
problems, it is possible to use the Westergaard (1939) stress function, 𝜙" 𝑧 , in
Mode I for problems with x-axis symmetry. Here, 𝑧 = 𝑥 + 𝑖𝑦 is the complex
number representing the position of the point considered (𝑥, 𝑦). This potential is
used to calculate the stress field using the Airy’s stress function approach. As it
was shown in Chapter 1, Airy’s stress function leads to the stress components

∂- 𝜙" ∂- 𝜙" ∂- 𝜙"
𝜎++ = , 𝜎.. = , 𝜎+. = − (without body force) (2.2.1)
∂𝑦 - ∂𝑥 - ∂𝑥 ∂𝑦

This field leads to stresses and strains that satisfy the equilibrium equations and
the compatibility conditions automatically and, therefore, is the solution of a plane
problem (plane stress or plane strain) if the potential is selected properly to satisfy
the boundary conditions. Thus, it is possible to calculate 𝑢+ and 𝑢. . Both plane
stress and plane strain cases can be treated with the same relationships using the
notations of Chapter 2.1, i.e., Young modulus of 𝐸′ = 𝐸 for plane stress and 𝐸′ =
𝐸/ 1 − 𝜈 - for plane strain.


s0 Crack s0 u
2a 2a


2.2.2. Plate with a crack subjected to balanced biaxial stress remotely

2.2.3. Plate with crack under biaxial stress (Mode I) General stress field

Let’s assume a large plate subjected to balanced biaxial stress conditions (Fig.
2.2.2). The crack is subjected to Mode I. Therefore, all the quantities defined in this
case, such as stress intensity factor(SIF), elastic strain energy release rate, etc., will

have a subscript I, e.g., 𝐾" , 𝐺" , etc. In this case, the Westergaard stress function,
solution of the crack in an infinite plate under biaxial tension, was found and the
displacement field components for the crack flank were obtained, i.e.,

𝑢+ = 0
2𝜎J (2.2.2)
𝑢. = 𝑎- − 𝑥 - ( 𝑥 ≤ 𝑎)

As already mentioned above, this relationship is valid for both plane stress and
plane strain by choosing the correct Young modulus 𝐸′ Elastic strain energy release

At this point, the elastic strain energy released by introducing a crack in a material
can be calculated. A crack of length 2𝑎 can be cut in a uniform plate material and
the material relaxes in order to satisfy zero normal and shear stresses inside the
lips of the crack. The system plate/crack gives up some elastic stored energy when
the material relaxes. This is the elastic strain energy release 𝑈NOP , which was
discussed in Chapter 2.1 and calculated with simple assumptions in the energy
approach to fracture.

Fig. 2.2.3. Schematic of the crack lips

This energy is also the energy necessary to bring the crack lips together by
applying incremental forces inside the crack (Fig. 2.2.3). The incremental force in
the 𝐞𝒚 direction is 𝑑𝑓 = 𝜎𝐵𝑑𝑥 and the work of the incremental force to close the
crack is


𝑑𝑈NOP = 2 𝜎𝐵𝑑𝑥𝑑𝑢. (2.2.3)


where the factor 2 is because two crack lips have to be considered. In the above

𝑑𝑢. = 𝑎- − 𝑥 - (2.2.4)

Therefore, the total work necessary to glue the crack is given by

𝜋𝑎- 𝜎J- 𝐵
𝑈NOP = (2.2.5)

Note that this is the result obtained with the energy approach. However, in the
present case, no assumption was made concerning the stress field since, because of
the use of an Airy function, the exact solution was obtained. In the energy
approach, the stress components were assumed to be zero in an ellipse of large
and small axes equal to 4𝑎 and 2𝑎, respectively. It is therefore worth looking at the
stress for different values on the 𝐞𝒚 axis (𝑥 = 0). It can be shown that

𝜎++ = 𝜎.. = 𝜎J (2.2.6)
𝑦 - + 𝑎-

The value of 𝜎++ /𝜎J (stress factor) is represented in Fig. 2.2.4. For 𝑦 = 2𝑎 and 𝑥 =
0, the exact solution of the problem gives 𝜎++ = 𝜎.. = 2/ 5. This value is not even
close to zero, as assumed in the energy method, and although this assumption was
not very good, the elastic strain energy release calculated by the energy method
(Chapter 2.1) was correct.


Stress factor




0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Distance from crack lip (y)

Fig. 2.2.4. Stress as a function of distance from crack lip

4 Elastic strain energy release rate

The strain energy release rate is defined by

∂𝑈NOP ∂𝑈NOP ∂𝑎 1 ∂𝑈NOP 𝜋𝑎𝜎J- 𝐾"-
𝐺" = = = = = (2.2.7)
∂𝑆 ∂𝑎 ∂𝑆 2𝐵 ∂𝑎 𝐸′ 𝐸′

because 𝐾" = 𝜎J 𝜋𝑎. In Eq. (2.2.7), 𝑆 is the cracked surface area (𝑆 = 2𝑎𝐵 ) and 𝐾"
is the stress intensity factor as defined in the energy approach of Griffith. The
previous equation shows the equivalence of 𝑮𝑰 and 𝑲𝑰 .

2.2.4. Crack tip stress field (Mode I)

Near the crack tip, the stress can be obtained using the transformation, 𝑧 − 𝑎 =
𝜉 = 𝑟𝑒 cd . Point T is becoming the new origin. A point of coordinate 𝜉 can also be
represented with the cylindrical coordinates (Fig. 2.2.5).


ey er
Crack q
O T ex x
a a

Fig. 2.2.5. Crack tip geometry definition

From the Westergaard solution, the stress field near the crack tip can be expressed
as follows

𝜃 3𝜃
1 − sin sin
𝜎++ 2 2
𝐾" 𝜃 𝜃 3𝜃
𝜎.. = cos 1 + sin sin (2.2.8)
𝜎+. 2𝜋𝑟 2 2 2
𝜃 3𝜃
sin cos
2 2

Note that these expressions are valid near the crack tip, at distances 𝑟 that are
small compared to the crack size 2𝑎. It is worth noting the singularity at point T
where 𝑟 = 0. For plane stress, 𝜎ii = 0 and, for plane strain, 𝜎ii = 𝜈 𝜎++ + 𝜎.. as

shown in the theory of elasticity for this state. 𝐾" is the opening mode of the
stress intensity factor

𝐾" = lim 𝜎.. 2𝜋𝑟 = 𝜎J 𝜋𝑎 MPa m (2.2.9)
N→J dmJ

Although the stress is infinite at the tip, 𝐾" describes the intensity of the stress
distribution near the crack tip, i.e., the severity of the loading (Fig. 2.2.6).


(arbitrary units)

K =1
K =2

K =3

1 I

0 1 2 3 4 5
Distance from crack tip (arbitrary units)

Fig. 2.2.6. Stress field (𝜎.. ) at crack tip

2.2.5. Superposition of stress intensity factors Single mode

Because of the superposition principle in elasticity, the solution of a boundary
value problem with identical geometry and crack mode can be superimposed. For
instance, for the same geometry and crack mode, the stress intensity factor
resulting from the superposition of two boundary conditions (1) and (2) is

(q) (-)
𝐾" = 𝐾" + 𝐾" (2.2.10)

For instance, let’s take the example of the infinite plate with a central crack (size
2𝑎) subjected to uniaxial tension. This can be decomposed into the plate subject to
biaxial tension superimposed with the plate subjected to uniaxial compression (Fig.
2.2.7). These stress states are denoted (a), (b) and (c), respectively. We are looking
for the stress intensity factor for (a)


s0 s0

ey ey ey

Crack s0 Crack s0 s0 Crack s0

= +
ex ex
2a 2a 2a

s0 s0

(a) (b) (c)

Fig. 2.2.7. Infinite plate with a central crack subjected to uniaxial tension

The stress field for (b) is known because studied previously. For (c) the solution is
obtained for the Airy’s stress function with potential 𝜙 = −𝜎J 𝑦 - /2 (it is like an
uniform plate under compression). Then,

𝜎++ −𝜎J
𝜎 .. = 0 (2.2.11)
𝜎+. 0

𝐾" = lim 2𝜋𝑟𝜎.. 𝜃 = 0 = 0 (2.2.12)


(s) (t) (r) (t)
𝐾" = 𝐾" + 𝐾" = 𝐾" (2.2.13)

Near the crack tip, the term 2𝑟 𝑎 become small compared to 1. Therefore, the
stress field around the crack tip was not modified by the introduction of the
compressive stress field in the 𝐞𝐱 direction. This result was generalized by
Williams (1957). Mixte mode

Solutions for the same geometry and different crack modes (mixed mode)
cannot superimpose. However, in that case, energies can add, which leads to

𝐾"- + 𝐾""- 𝐾""" -
𝐺 = 𝐺" + 𝐺"" + 𝐺""" = + w (2.2.14)
𝐸′ 2𝜇


2.2.6. General solution of the stress field at a crack tip

A general solution of the stress field at a crack tip was obtained by Williams
(1957) for linear elastic materials in terms of a series expansion

𝐾y y
𝜎cx = 𝐹cx 𝜃 + higher order terms (for mode 𝑀 = 𝐼, 𝐼𝐼, 𝐼𝐼𝐼) (2.2.15)

where 𝐹cxy 𝜃 are functions of the crack configuration. This result can be obtained
using a stress function more general than Westergaard. Because only the stress
near the tip is important (i.e., r is small), the higher order terms can be neglected.
Therefore, • 𝐹cxy 𝜃 represents the asymptotic solution, which gives the 𝑟 •q/-

Asymptotic s pa

Real solution

ex r1 r2 r

Fig. 2.2.8. Real and asymptotic stress solution near crack tip

Fig. 2.2.9. Stress intensity for finite size specimen (Y is a constant correction factor
for the particular geometry considered)

On Fig. 2.2.8, if the solid line is the exact solution, the dash line represents this
asymptotic solution. It is a good approximation for a radius 𝑟 not exceeding 𝑟q .
Sometimes, it is necessary to use the second term of the series (the so-called T
stress) to get a better approximation. In this case, the approximation of the real

solution is extended up to a radius 𝑟- . Usually, the asymptotic solution is valid for r
less than a few percent of other characteristic distances of the problem (crack
length, etc., see Meguid’s book).

2.2.7. Effect of finite size components

For finite size and specific geometry, the stress intensity factor (SIF) needs to be
corrected with a factor 𝑌, i.e.,

𝐾" = 𝑌𝜎J 𝜋𝑎 (2.2.16)

as illustrated by Fig. 2.2.9. This factor can be a function of 𝑓 𝑎/𝑊 , where 𝑊 is a
characteristic dimension of the considered shape. For elliptical or semi-elliptical
crack, the correction factor is also a function of the ratio of the ellipses 𝑎/𝑐. The
stress intensity factor (SIF) can be obtained using theoretical, numerical and
experimental techniques. Examples of correction factors 𝑓 𝑎/𝑊 for specific
specimens are given in the tables below. In these tables, the correction factors are
expressed in the form

𝐾" = 𝑓 𝑎/𝑊 (2.2.17)

where 𝑃 is the load, 𝑊 the width and 𝐵 the thickness. In these examples, the stress

is 𝜎 = where 𝑛 is 1 or 2. Therefore

𝐾" = 𝑛 𝑊𝜎𝑓 𝑎/𝑊 = 𝑛 𝜎 𝜋𝑎𝑓 𝑎/𝑊 (2.2.18)

The relationship between these corrections factors is

𝑛- 𝑊
𝑌= 𝑓 𝑎/𝑊 (2.2.19)

As an application, the relationship between 𝑌 and 𝑎/𝑊 for a middle tension (MT)
specimen is given. The factor 𝑓 𝑎/𝑊 from the table is

𝜋𝑎 1 𝑎 - 𝑎 Œ
𝑓 𝑎/𝑊 = 4𝑊 𝜋𝑎 1 − 0.025
+ 0.06

with 𝑛 = 2. Therefore, the correction factor becomes

1 𝑎 - 𝑎 Œ
𝑌= 𝜋𝑎 1 − 0.025 𝑊 + 0.06 (2.2.21)
cos 𝑊

It is graphically represented as a function of 𝑎 𝑊 in Fig. 2.2.10

Figure 2.2.10. Correction factor 𝑌 for MT specimen

Cracked specimen and SIF correction factor

(See below)





2.2.8. Application of the stress analysis approach

Since the stress value near a crack tip is always very high (infinite at the crack tip),
the strength of materials approach to failure prediction stipulating that the
material fails when the maximum stress reaches a critical value (yield or ultimate
stresses) cannot be used here. When a cracked plate is subjected to a small load,
although the stress field near the crack tip becomes very high, the plate does not
fail. However, as the load increases to some critical value, the plate fails.

The energy balance approach of Griffith tells us that crack propagation becomes
unstable when the stress intensity factor reaches a critical value 2𝐸′𝛾O , which is a
material properties. By analogy, we can therefore postulate that, a material will fail
when the stress intensity factor, for either mode I, II or III, reaches a critical value.
These values are called critical stress intensity factor or fracture toughness of
the material (see Fig. 2.2.11). For instance, for Mode I, the structure is safe if

𝐾" ≤ 𝐾"r (2.2.22)

These critical values of fracture toughness are denoted by 𝐾"r , 𝐾""r or 𝐾"""r . They
are material properties and can be measured. Alternatively, the values of the
elastic strain energy release rate may be used as failure criteria, i.e.,

𝐺" ≤ 𝐺"r (2.2.23)

syy KI(3) = K Ic

KI(1) < KI( 2 )


Fig. 2.2.11. Fracture criterion

2.2.9. Determination of stress intensity factors (SIF)

The stress intensity factor can be determined for any structural component,
depending on the nature and complexity of the geometry, using:
• Analytical methods
• Numerical methods

• Experimental methods

The block diagram of Fig. 2.2.13 summarizes these different techniques. In the
Appendix, the experimental compliance measurement method is described in
more details.

Fig. 2.2.13. Methods for determining the stress intensity factor (SIF)


Compliance measurements

In the previous chapter, we saw that the elastic energy release per unit surface
extension is the elastic energy release rate, i.e.,

𝐺= = (if crack length is 𝑎) (2.2.24)
𝑑𝑆 𝐵 𝑑𝑎

where 𝑠 is the cracked area and 𝐵 is the plate thickness. The elastic strain energy
release rate is the energy available to create a crack extension 𝑑𝑎. Experimentally,
we can measure it using the compliance method. First, let’s assume a tensile
machine for which we record the load 𝑃 and displacement 𝑢. We define the
stiffness 𝑆 and the compliance 𝐶 of the machine as

1 𝑃
𝑆= = (2.2.25)
𝐶 𝑢

Linear elastic material
A P u
S(a) Stiffness S

Compliance C a
S(a+da) C = 1/S

O u u+du

Fig. 2.2.14. Load-displacement curve for a crack body in fixed load and fixed grip

Usually, tensile machines are controlled either with the load or with the
displacement. When the displacement is kept constant, if the crack length
increases by 𝑑𝑎 , the compliance will decrease and the load will decrease (Fig.
2.2.14). The strain elastic energy released is equal to

1 1 1
𝑑𝑈NOP = 𝑃𝑢 − 𝑢 𝑃 − 𝑑𝑃 = 𝑢𝑑𝑃
2 2 2 (2.2.26)
(area 𝑂𝐴𝐵 − 𝑂𝐸𝐵 )

When the load is kept constant, if the crack length increases by da , the compliance
will decrease and the displacement will increase. The elastic strain energy released
is equal to

1 1 1
𝑑𝑈NOP = 𝑃𝑢 − 𝑃 𝑢 + 𝑑𝑢 + 𝑃𝑑𝑢 = 𝑃𝑑𝑢
2 2 2 (2.2.27)
(area 𝑂𝐴𝐵 − 𝑂𝐶𝐷 + 𝐴𝐵𝐶𝐷 )

The term 𝑃𝑑𝑢 (area 𝐴𝐵𝐶𝐷 ) is because the system receives some energy due to
the work of the load under displacement 𝑑𝑢 . Therefore,

𝑑𝑈NOP = 𝑃𝑑𝑢 (2.2.28)

It is clear from Figs. 2.2.14 and 2.2.15, that 𝑢𝑑𝑃/2 and 𝑃𝑑𝑢/2 are different only
at the second order by the quantity 𝑑𝑢𝑑𝑃/2 (area 𝐴𝐶𝐸 ). Therefore, the elastic
strain energy released is the same for either constant load or constant
displacement control. Therefore, in both cases the elastic energy release rate is
given by

1 ∂𝑈s 1 ∂𝑢 1 - ∂𝐶
𝐺= = 𝑃 = 𝑃 (2.2.29)
𝐵 ∂𝑎 2𝐵 ∂𝑎 2𝐵 ∂𝑎




Figure 2.2.15. Energy balance for fixed load and fixed displacement