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International Journal of Fracture 63:27 57, 1993.

~ 1993 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.


A continuum mechanics approach to some problems in subcritical

crack propagation
Center for Mechanics of Composites, Texas Engineering Experiment Station,
The Texas A&M University System, College Station, Texas 77843-3141, USA
Received 24 November 1992; accepted in revised form 20 July 1993

Abstract. The results of the so-called energetic approach to fracture for the cases of a sharp crack without and with a
cohesive zone are briefly reviewed with particular attention to the crack tip singularity analysis and to the issue of
energy dissipation due to crack propagation. The case of a crack with a cohesive zone removing all thermomechanical
singularities is then further analyzed, focusing the attention on the question of the thermodynamic admissibility of
subcritical crack growth, and on some of the hypotheses that lead to the derivation of subcritical crack growth laws. A
two-phase cohesive zone model for discontinuous crack growth is presented and its thermodynamics analyzed, followed
by an example of its possible application.

1. Introduction

Subcritical crack growth (SCG), under both general and cyclic loading conditions, is a
phenomenon that has been receiving more and more attention during the last forty years.
Starting with early investigations mainly on fatigue in metals [1-9], current research covers a
wide variety of materials, especially those such as polymers [9-13] and ceramics [14] that are
becoming important in the fabrication of composites. The phenomena of interest also include
phase transformation toughening and discontinuous crack propagation in polymers, Rtoughening by crack bridging in ceramics and interface evolution and degradation both at
fiber-matrix interfaces in fiber reinforced composites and at the lamina-lamina interface in
laminated composites. In all these phenomena experimental research has shown the existence
of a zone, often referred to as a cohesive zone or damage zone located at the crack tip, whose
special behavior relieves the stress and/or strain singularity that otherwise would be predicted
at the crack tip of a sharp crack and allows for some inelastic behavior to occur.
From the theoretical standpoint, the problem is that of relating crack growth to the load
history. In this sense, fundamental understanding has been provided by the energetic approach
to fracture [15 32] that showed [15 19] how subcritical crack propagation is strictly related to
the rate of energy dissipation in the vicinity of the crack front, although the distinction between
the surroundings of the crack, generically referred to as a process zone, and the rest of the body
is often unclear. Such an ambiguity leads also to inconsistencies in the development of a
thermodynamic theory of fracture. In fact, several theoretical studies in the continuum
thermodynamics of fracture, especially those by Cherepanov [15, 21] and Rice [22 23] and,
more recently, Gurtin [24-25] and Nguyen [27-32] have shown that, independently of the
global or local (around the tip) constitutive assumptions, a sharp crack with no cohesive zone
(i.e. a system of cohesive forces acting on the crack surface) is constrained to evolve according
to the Griffith criterion [20], the latter being a direct consequence of the second law of
thermodynamics. This result is in open contrast with many of the results obtained in fatigue,


F. Costanzo and D.H. Allen

since fatigue propagation laws in general describe a type of subscritical evolution. Moreover,
most of the fatigue laws obtained using an energetic approach are derived using only the first
principle of thermodynamics without checking for the actual thermodynamic admissibility of
the process. From a theoretical viewpoint thermodynamics can only provide restrictions to
evolution laws in the form of inequalities [ 3 3 3 4 ] but not the evolution laws themselves unless
further assumptions are made.
Another problem that concerns cracks without cohesive zones (thus with a crack tip
singularity for ahnost all thermomechanical fields) is the loss of meaning of the fracture
parameter G (energy release rate) for almost every material system with constitutive behavior
other than thermoelastic or at least asymptotically thermoelastic [35-36, 29]. The solution to
this latter problem as suggested by Nguyen [32] again does not seem to allow for subcritical
crack propagation.
The present research effort, by introducing a cohesive zone into a continuum mechanics
model, focuses on the question of thermodynamical admissibility of subcritical crack propagation and develops a thermodynamically consistent description of the problem. The analysis is
carried out in a general way and, in principle, it is intended to be applicable to any material
system, especially one in which the evolution of a damage zone is de facto constrained into a
very narrow band, such as the matrix-fiber interface in fiber reinforced composites or a matrix
crack that runs between adjacent planes of fibers or between two adjacent laminae in a
laminated composite. Since the present work extends concepts and results mainly from the
works of Gurtin [24--26] and Nguyen [27 32], a short summary of such concepts is presented.
After postulating the presence of a cohesive zone ahead of the crack tip, the circumstances
under which SCG is thermodynamically admissible will be discussed, The assumptions leading
to the derivation of the traditional form of fatigue growth laws are also discussed and a
similar form for a discontinuous crack growth law will be obtained. The purpose of such a
discussion, which is not meant to propose a methodology for determining fatigue crack
propagation laws, is twofold: on one hand it intends to show that the approach presented
herein maintains consistency with known results; on the other hand it explicitly shows, from a
thermodynamic standpoint, the type and number of assumptions that are necessary for the
derivations of those laws, thus justifying the need for further research and more general
results. The paper concludes with a simple example to show the trend of discontinuous crack

2. A summary of some important results of the continuum thermodynamics approach to fracture

In this section some of the most important results of the continuum thermodynamics approach
to fracture are briefly stated and discussed. The intent of this summary is to indicate some of the
questions that have remained so far unanswered and to provide a background to allow for the
necessary comparisons with the new results presented in Section 3. The notation used
throughout the paper and some basic definitions are also introduced here.
Although in order to provide a comprehensive summary of the thermodynamics approach to
fracture the early works of Griffith [20], those of Cherepanov [15], Rice 1-22-23] and many
others should be mentioned, for the sake of conciseness the results stated here and the form with
which they will be presented belong mainly to the works of Gurtin [24-26] and to those of
Nguyen [27 32].

P r o b l e m s in subcritical crack propagation


2.1. Basic equations

The first two laws of thermodynamics, in the pointwise form, read [-37]
Pu : ~Tij~ij -- qi,i "Jr-pr,





where u = U(Xk, t) is the specific internal energy; p = (Xk, t) is the density; s = S(Xk, t) is the (total)
specific entropy; T = T(Xk, t) is the absolute temperature; crq = a~j(Xk, t) is the Cauchy stress
tensor; e~j = eq(Xk, t) is the small strain tensor; qi = qi(Xk, t) is the heat flux; r = r(Xk, t) is the heat
The dot over a generic variable represents the material time derivative d/dt and Xk is the
position vector. In addition to (1) and (2) we also have
aji,j + Pfi = 0,


1 U i,j -J- Uj,i),

'~ij : 2(


where f~ fi(Xk, t) and ui = Ui(Xk, t) are the b o d y force and the displacement vector fields,
respectively. As for the pointwise material behavior, we assume that it is described by the
following set of equations [33]:

O'ij :

(Tij(~kl , T,~n),

qi = qi(~kl, T, T,k,~n),


u = u(ek,, T,~"),
s = s(ek. T,~"),

such that
a i j = P -8~q'


- -~?T'


where h = h(Xk, t) is the Helmholtz free energy

h =- u - Ts,


and ~" = ~"(Xk, t) is a set of N internal state variables (n = 1. . . . . N) whose evolution is governed
by N rate laws of the type
~ = f~n(ekZ, T, ~tm); n, m = 1.... , N.



F. C o s t a n z o

and D.H. Allen

In particular, we will assume that the Fourier heat conduction law can be used as the second of

qi = - k T i,

where k is a material property that can be a function of temperature and possibly of the
ISVs. In order to distinguish the energy dissipation due to inelastic behavior from that
due to other causes such as crack propagation, it is convenient to define a function
r/mic, representing the pointwise entropy production due to microstructural rearrangements
only, i.e.

D01 = D0mie

~i r,i
T2 ,


where r/I is the intrinsic entropy production




and the second term on the right hand side of (lO) represents the entropy production due to heat
conduction alone. From (10) and (1 l) it follows that

P0micT =

,o~T + qi.i



Assuming a :~trong form for the second law of thermodynamics, we have [37]

D0mic ~ 0:

T,i /> 0.


With reference to Fig. I, the system analyzed will be a body B, with external boundary ?B.
For simplicity we will assume that B is a two-dimensional body; the extension of the results to
the three-dimensional case is not difficult. B contains a crack represented by a smooth line of
discontinuity C(t) such that
O(t): {xk(~):0 ~ ~ ~ /(t)},


where ~ is a curvilinear abscissa on the crack line and 1 = I(t) is the scalar measure of the crack
length. At a point xk e C(t) a unit normal v~ = v~(~) is defined. The crack tip is allowed to move
with a velocity c~
ci = [ei


where ei is a unit vector with the same orientation as the crack velocity. Points on the crack line
(not to be confused with the crack faces) act as points of discontinuity for the various field
variables. Following the standard notation used in the study of singular surfaces [38-39], for a

Problems in subcritical crack propagation


Fig. 1. C r a c k w i t h o u t a cohesive zone.

generic field variable 4>, let

(p+-=lim(o(Xk+~Vk, t);

~ e R +, XkeC(t)--l(t),


+ _

q~- =


By the above definition, each field variable is allowed to suffer at most a jump discontinuity
across the interior of the crack surface. The behavior of such variables in the neighborhood of
the crack tip will be discussed separately for each variable if and when the problem is
encountered. Following Gurtin [24-25] we define a circle D0 of radius 6, with center at the crack
tip and translating with the crack tip itself. Thus, all points on the boundary 0D0 of D0 are
characterized by the same velocity vector as that of the crack tip. The unit normal vector to ~D6,
outward with respect to Do, will be called mi, as shown in Fig. 1.
2.2. Thermodynamics of a crack without a cohesive zone
In this section the key results of the continuum thermodynamics analysis of a moving sharp
crack without a cohesive zone are stated. For a complete derivation of the relationships reported
here see the works by Gurtin [24 25] and those by Nguyen [28-29].


F. Costanzo and D.H. Allen

Before proceeding further, it is important to recall that the absence of a cohesive zone causes
many thermomechanical fields to have singularities at the crack tip. Thus, it is of utmost
importance to be aware of the fact that some assumptions must be stated to constrain the
behavior of the singular fields in order to avoid a violation of the conservation laws. Such
assumptions are stated here in the form given by Nguyen [29]; for an in-depth analysis of the
meaning of these hypotheses see the discussions by Gurtin [24 25], Nguyen [28-29, 32],
Nguyen and Stolz [40] and Michel and Nguyen [41].
These assumptions are:
Assumption A1. The functions D0micT, TS and sT are Lebesgue integrable in B(t) for almost all t.
Assumption A2. The transport condition of the singularity for a physical quantity g is
,q = -ci,q.; + more regular, integrable terms
i.e. the dominant term of ,0 is exactly -c~.q.;, where c~ is defined by (15), for almost all t.
Henceforth, assuming that both A1 and A2 are satisfied, the first law of thermodynamics for
the crack tip alone, i.e. for the crack tip seen as a thermodynamic system per se, can be proven to
take on the following form:

(pucimi- -

/~,. =- lim [



qimi) dS,


,J dD6

where/~c is the rate with which the crack tip exchanges energy with the rest of the body. E,. is a
function of the energy required to create a new crack surface. Therefore, letting "l(Xk, t), Xk ~ C(t)
be the specific crack surface energy, we have

E,, = 27(xk, t)[,


where 7(Xk, t) is a material property. It is often sufficiently accurate to consider 7 to be a constant

7o both in space and time. Making this latter assumption results in
/~. = 270 [


Considering (18) and (15), Eqn. (17) can be rewritten as follows


qimi dS,


i J ~ O ,JfA,D 6

where G is defined to be the energy release rate

G =- lim ei I

(pumi - ajkmiUk.i) dS.



Note that the integrands in (19) and (20) must be singular of order 1/r at the crack tip for the
corresponding integrals not to vanish, where, with respect to a polar coordinate reference set
with origin at the crack tip, r is the distance from the crack tip itself.

Problems in subcritical crack propagation


The second law of thermodynamics for the body B and the crack tip alone, respectively, can
be proved to take on the form:


~lmi~TdA ~ 0; (G -- 27o)[~> 0.


Remark 2.1. The second of (21) is nothing but the Griffith criterion:

if G/>27o.

Subcritical crack growth, i.e. [ > 0 and 0 < G < 27o, violates the second cO (21) and as such is
not thermodynamically admissible for the conditions described above (i.e. no cohesive zone). It
is important to realize that relationships (21) are independent of the chosen constitutive
equations as long as the resulting thermomechanical fields satisfy assumptions A1 and A2, and
that they are a direct consequence of having assumed that the crack tip is sharp, i.e. represented
by a single geometrical point Thus, theories that introduce a damaged zone around the crack
(with special constitutive behavior) but that still consider the crack tip as a single point in
general will not result in thermodynamical admissibility of SCG.

Remark 2.2. The temperature behavior at the crack tip is essentially determined by assumptions
A1 and A2 rather than the heat conduction law assumed In fact, for the right hand side of (19)
not to vanish it is necessary that the heat flux be singular of order 1/r. Thus, if we have a heat
conduction law in which the heat flux is proportional to the temperature gradient, then the
temperature field is singular at the crack tip, and the singularity must be weaker than 1/r. In
particular, if the Fourier law of heat conduction is assumed, then T is singular of order log(r)
[29, 42-43]

T - (G ~/_~/o)l log r + more regular terms


The above equation shows that T has the sign of ( G - 27o)/'. This result reinforces the
significance of (21) and what was discussed in Remark 2.1 since subcritical crack growth would
imply that the absolute temperature becomes infinite and negative at the crack tip. This is
clearly thermodynamically and physically incorrect. Note that relationships (21) and (22) suggest
the interesting interpretation of a moving crack tip as a moving heat source, and this is
consistent with numerous observations of intense heating ahead of a propagating crack [42-43].

Remark 2.3. Through singularity analysis various authors, such as Rice [35], Kfouri and Rice
[36] and Nguyen [28-29], have shown that the quantity G is automatically null for the running
crack problem, for almost every type of material behavior except the thermoelastic one. In other
words, the quantity G, as a fracture parameter, is meaningless in most cases, such as in
viscoplasticity. Nguyen has also shown that this is due to the fact that G (as given in (20)) is
determined under the erroneous assumption that the field equations remain everywhere elliptic.
In [44], for a nonlinear elastic material, the governing equations of the crack propagation
problem have been shown to change their nature, becoming locally hyperbolic and therefore


F. Costanzo and D.H. Allen

resulting in discontinuity surfaces originating from the crack tip. Nguyen [323 has shown that
this may also happen for an elastic-perfectly plastic material, as confirmed in [41]. This makes it
necessary to modify the definition of the crack driving force to account for the presence of the
mentioned discontinuity surfaces. Such an approach leaves inequalities (21) substantially
unchanged. Thus, it still does not allow for subcritical crack propagation. It must be mentioned
that other authors such as Kfouri [45] and Kfouri and Rice [36], attempted to overcome the
difficulties concerning the computation of G through the Crack Closure Work (CCW) approach.
The CCW is a well established technique used for computing G in linear elastic fracture
mechanics. Such a technique is based on the observation that, for a crack of length l, the
quantity Gdl equals the energy necessary to close an amount dl of a crack of initial length I + dl.
In practical applications, G is actually computed considering two crack configurations,
respectively, of length 1 and l + Al, where A/is a conveniently small finite crack increment, and
then evaluating the energy necessary to close the crack with length / + A1 of the (finite) amount
Al. Ideally, in the elastic case, the smaller the increment Al the better the approximation. In [36,
453 it is shown that, in the elastic-perfectly plastic case, G ~ 0 as AI --, 0 but also that G tends to
a finite non-null value when it is evaluated for A1 = Aa, where Aa is a characteristic crack
increment. In this case crack propagation is seen as the resultant of a series of quantized growth
steps of size Aa. The latter represents the critical minimum size of such steps. Such a theory is
also indirectly based on the assumption that there exists a cohesive force system of the
Dugdale-Barenblatt [46-47] type at the crack tip.
Remark 2.4. In Remark 2.1 subcritical crack growth (SCG) has been defined by the conditions




where Gcr is the critical energy release rate. Subcritical crack propagation is of great interest in
the study of fatigue. Such a phenomenon is not possible when there is no cohesive zone
according to the results presented so far due to restrictions imposed by the second law as given
in (21). SCG would instead be an admissible phenomenon if the restriction of the second law
were that given by the following inequality


timicTdA + (G



In fact conditions (23) and (24) can be satisfied simultaneously if the first term of (24) is large
enough to overcome the negative contribution due to the second term. As for the interpretation
of the crack negative dissipation, we can say that such a term is in fact the rate at which energy
is being stored, through new crack surface production, in the form of surface energy. In other
words, part of the heat generated by microstructural dissipative mechanisms is absorbed and
stored during the creation of a new crack surface. Such an interpretation is consistent with the
theory of thermally activated fracture [48]. A classical example of a dissipation mechanism
accompanied by energy storing mechanisms is plastic flow, particularly in polycrystals [49]. It is
in fact well known that in plastic deformations some of the energy is actually stored in
dislocation cores, residual stress fields, phase transformations, etc. The energy stored in fracture
may be released back into the bulk of the body during healing and consolidation processes.

Problems in subcritical crack propagation


Surface energy is in fact an essential component of the driving force in sintering [50]. Note
that, assuming that the second law holds in the form given in (24) but not in (21), SCG
appears to be possible only when some volumetric dissipation is present, in order to compensate for the negative contribution due to the crack advancement [18]. Thus, even under the
assumption that inequality (24) holds, the present thermodynamic analysis is unable to cope
with the problem of SCG in ceramic materials that behave in a virtually perfectly brittle
In Section 3 it will be shown that SCG can occur even under the restrictions of (21) when a
dissipative cohesive zone is present ahead of the crack tip or, in other words, when the crack
tip is no longer considered to be a single geometrical point but a finite length crack line
segment that can display a special characteristic behavior of its own. The dissipation analysis
for a crack with a cohesive zone will show that, in such a case, no problems arise concerning
the temperature field and that a continuum thermodynamic theory consistent with SCG in
brittle materials can be provided.
2.3. Thermodynamics of a crack with a cohesive zone

As mentioned above, the analysis of the running crack problem (without a cohesive zone)
presents major difficulties in that the parameter G becomes meaningless except for materials
that behave, at least asymptotically, as if they were thermoelastic. Moreover, the dissipation analysis leads to uncertain results especially as far as the temperature field is concerned. A way to overcome some of these difficulties, while remaining in the framework of
continuum thermodynamics, is to postulate the existence of a cohesive zone (c.z.) ahead of the
crack tip.
With reference to Fig. 2, a cohesive zone is defined as a portion of the crack line
C(t): {~:0 ~< ~"~< fl(t)} (a more formal definition is given later) such that along ~(t) ~< ~ ~< fl(t), a
system of cohesive forces is acting. At this moment it is not necessary to specify the nature of
the cohesive force system. From its definition it appears clear that a cohesive zone, even when
characterized by a certain opening displacement, has no volume associated with it. Thus, a c.z.
appears to be more a 'mathematical' entity rather than a 'physical' one, but, as it will be
shown later, its introduction into the model allows one to overcome most of the aforementioned problems in the context of continuum thermodynamics, without using nonlocal theories. A c.z. is not to be confused with a so-called process zone. The latter is usually defined as
a region of finite volume around the crack tip and possibly all around the crack faces with
special constitutive equations that translate the behavior of the damaged material ahead of the
crack tip and in the crack wake. Note that in principle the existence of a process zone does
not necessarily overcome both the problem concerning G and that concerning the singularity
in the temperature field since the crack tip is still considered a single geometrical point and
since the process zone constitutive equations are not, in general, those of a thermoelastic
The crack is now defined as follows

c.z. = {xk():z(t) ~< ~ ~< ~(t)}.


F. Costanzo and D.H. Allen



kiq. 2. Crack with a cohesivezone.

The cohesive zone is characterized by its opening displacement 6~(~, t) and by the cohesive force
per unit length ai(~, t) defined as follows
~(~, t) --- G~ ~'~ = o'j~ ~,j,

~(~, t) - [u~];

c~(/7(t), t) = 0

where ~e c.z. The definition given in (15) now applies to the point ~ = [J(t) replacing/'with/J. We
will assume that all field variables will undergo at most a jump discontinuity across C(t) and no
singular points are present. Such an assumption can be considered as 'classical' in the theories of
fracture in the presence of a cohesive zone [46-47, 15, 26]. Moreover, recalling that the cohesive
zone is intended to translate the behavior of any phenomena that take place in the neighborhood of the crack tip, we will assume that such behavior can be described through the use of
convenient constitutive equations and that these equations can be derived in a thermodynamically consistent way. In order to encompass a large class of phenomena we can follow an
approach typical of the study of interfaces [51]. A thermodynamically consistent form of the
constitutive equations for the cohesive zone can be obtained by adapting the results of a general
constitutive theory to the case of a surface. The first step is to give convenient statements for the
two laws of thermodynamics for the c.z. alone. Gurtin has dealt with this specific issue [26].
Here we will discuss some of his results.


Problems in subcritical crack propagation

After Gurtin [26], we define the crack internal energy per unit length (surface), E such that


2yo = const,

0 < [ 6 a(t),

a, 0,

$0 < i < PM

i 0,


i = P(t).

An analogous definition can be given to the crack entropy cp

cpo = const,

cp = CPK 0,
i 0,

0 6 [ d cc(t),

4 < i < B(t)!

i = B(t).


Let 9 = S([, t) 3 0 be the crack absolute temperature, such that

9 = T+

= T-


vi: [ E lx.

The above definition implies that the temperature field is continuous across the C.Z. From
(27)+29) the crack Helmholtz free energy + is defined in the traditional way
* = & - (p9.


Given the above definitions, the first law of thermodynamics for the cohesive zone alone can be
proven to take on the form

dz s PW

sd[ + 2y,& =


Bs W

(OiJi - Cqilvi) di,

Eqn. (31) can also be given the following local form

t? = (ri8i -



A statement of the second law for the C.Z. cannot be deduced using the same arguments
employed to derive (21), but rather it must be postulated. Thus, the second law for the C.Z. alone
will be given the following global and local forms respectively, after Gurtin [26]


where 2 = A([, t) for CI < [ < /I and j- = 0 for [ = p, is the intrinsic entropy production per unit
length in the cohesive zone. It can be proven that relationships (33) and (34) are consistent with


F. Costanzo and D.H. Allen

the statement of the second law for moving singular surfaces [38 39] (i.e. surfaces of
discontinuity for the various field variables), since a cohesive zone, from a mathematical
standpoint, can be considered a stationary singular surface with intrinsic properties, and as such
a limit case of ordinary singular surfaces.
Remark 2.5. Recalling that the left hand side of the second of (21) represents the rate at which
the energy is dissipated by crack propagation and considering (19) it can be proven that the c.z.
dissipation rate as seen by an observer in B can be given the following form

;3~,l[q/]v; d(.



The sign of the above expression cannot in general be established a priori, but in analogy to
inequality (21) we will assume that a form of the second law stronger than (33) holds, that is
f t;It) [qi]vi d~ >~ O.



From a physical viewpoint, inequality (36) implies that the c.z. is constrained to behave in a
strictly dissipative way or, in other words, that the c.z. can only dissipate energy during its
evolution. In Section 3 we will show that subcritical crack propagation is thermodynamically
admissible even under this stronger assumption. Note also that inequality (36) is physically
supported by Remark 2.2 concerning the experimental observation of a zone of intense heating
ahead of a propagating crack; thus (36) preserves the notion of a moving crack tip as a moving
heat source.
Remark 2.6. Inequality (34) can be rewritten in terms of the free energy
02 = ~ ; 3 ; - ,/) - ; ~ / > o.


This latter inequality allows for the derivation of the c.z. constitutive equations following a
Coleman-Noll [52] approach. Gurtin [26] has presented the formulation of constitutive
equations for both elastic and viscoelastic c.z.

3. Dissipation analysis for a crack with a cohesive zone

The thermodynamic analysis of the cohesive zone presented [26], which, to the authors"
knowledge is the most rigorous of the kind, does not address the issue of the thermodynamic
admissibility of subcritical crack propagation, but rather it focuses on the extension of a general
thermodynamics framework for the development of constitutive equations for a c.z. Thus, with
the intent of investigating under what circumstances SCG is indeed thermodynamically
admissible, in this section the present authors will show how the first and second law of
thermodynamics for the c.z. alone can be extended to address such a question. We will then
discuss some of the conclusions that can be inferred by the derived admissibility condition, and

Problems in subcritical crack propagation


analyze the energetics of a few significant cases of cohesive zone evolution. The analysis begins
with the characterization of the thermodynamic force or work conjugate to the kinematic
variable ~, since, as a consequence of definitions (27) and (28) that set e(fl, t) = 0 and rp(fl, t) = 0,
is the only independent state variable at the global level that characterizes the c.z. growth

3.I. Model development

In order to properly characterize the thermodynamic force conjugate to the rate of a, the rate of
change of all the thermodynamic quantities of interest must be decomposed into a part due
solely to the change of ~ and a part due to the change of the other global independent state
variables, e.g. the boundary conditions. Since a is a global independent state variable [34], any
generic dependent variable q~ can be written as explicitly dependent on ~ [34]

~(xk, t) = ~(xk, ~(t), t).


Hence, the material time derivative of ~b can be more conveniently rewritten as follows



In order to proceed further into the analysis, we now need to specify a set of c.z. constitutive
equations. For the sake of simplicity and completeness (i.e. to study a c.z. with internal
dissipative mechanisms) we will use the set of constitutive equations introduced below, inspired
by an elementary theory of plasticity.
Consider the following decomposition of the c.z. opening displacement

6, = 6~ + be,,


where 6~ is the recoverable part of the opening displacement, i.e. al = 0 ~ 6~ = 0, and 6 f is the
permanent, unrecoverable one. Also let
~, = ~,(6~, 0),

(4 l)

such that


- ai;




Thus, from (37) we obtain

O,~ = ~3~ >~ 0.


The associated flow rule is assumed to be given by the traditional form

~2- ~ ,



F. Costanzo and D.H. Allen

where o) is assumed to be a convex function representing the yield surface for the c.z. The above
constitutive equations are not meant to describe any material system in particular, which would
require much more careful physical justifications, but rather they are proposed simply to show
how the c.z. state equations can be manipulated once the constitutive equations are known.
The first law for the c.z. can now be rewritten in a form that explicitly presents the energy
conjugate to the variable 7. From (31) and (39), using the transport theorem [37 38], we obtain

de + (G - R)~ =

a i

[qi]vi d~,




,,) :,ltl







G is the energy release rate and R is the crack advancement resistance. In accordance with a
classical interpretation, the force G R results therefore from the difference between the
thermodynamic force driving crack propagation and the force resisting the crack advancement.
Note that, in general, R is not a constant since it depends implicitly on the thermodynamic state
(deformation, temperature, etc.) at each point in the c.z. The quantity R& when positive,
represents the energy that is being stored within the c.z. during the c.z. evolution, mainly in the
form of fracture energy and elastic strain energy. The crack advancement resistance dependence
on the c.z. thermodynamic state is one of source of the phenomenon that goes by the name of
R-toughening. A more meaningful form of (45) can be obtained using (30) and (40)443) to
rewrite the integrand on the left hand side of (45):

[~i]vi = ai , ) ~ -

?~ = ai ?t



where [Oi]vi is that part of [qi]vi that is independent ofzc Thus, using (36) and (47), Eqn. (45) can
be rewritten as follows

[Oi)v~ d~ + (G
,J ~(t)

R)~ =

[q~]vi d( >~ O.


J ~(t)

Relationship (48) is substantially analogous to (19) and the second of (21), and shows that the c.z.
total dissipation (right hand side of (48)) is the sum of two terms: the first is the dissipation due
to the constitutive behavior of the c.z., the second is due to actual fracture. By virtue of
definition (47), the first term in (48), is not related to crack propagation but is due to the time
change of the other global state variables such as, for example, the applied loads. It is clear that
the sign of the second term on the left hand side of (48) cannot be established a priori, thus,
according to (48), subcritical crack propagation may indeed occur whenever


.t [O;]vi d~ > (R - G)~i > O.



Problems in subcritical crack propagation


Thus, rewriting (48) as follows

(R - 6)~ =


( [ O i l y , - [q,]vz)d(,


d ~(t)

and from definition (47), we see that subcritical crack growth, when it occurs, can be viewed as a
heat absorption mechanism, where the primary heat source is represented by inelastic mechanisms such as plasticity that are active within the cohesive zone. Note that the result presented
here is absolutely general and independent of the chosen constitutive equations. This can be seen
from the fact that the term [~i]vi in (47) can be defined also by the expression on the right hand
side of the equality sign, which is independent of the c.z. constitution. From inequality (49) it can
also be inferred that in order for SCG to happen there is need of some kind of dissipative
mechanism reflected in the first term of (49) that is able to drive the crack propagation. This
consideration is important for a better understanding of SCG in nearly perfectly brittle systems
where it appears to be consistent with experimental findings that reveal the presence of phase
transformation phenomena and bridging force systems ahead of an advancing crack 1-53 54]. In
other words, even in materials whose bulk behavior is mainly elastic, SCG and/or R-curve
behavior are possible due to the presence of a small dissipative c.z. and thus with a behavior
very different in nature from that of the bulk. Note also that a stricter interpretation of (49) leads
to the conclusion that SCG can only happen in the presence of a cohesive zone. This latter
interpretation, which is of course limited by the assumptions used to derive (49), can be
considered more properly an invitation to check for the presence of a cohesive zone when
subcritical propagation is observed rather than a necessary requirement for SCG to occur.

Remark 3.1. As mentioned earlier, ~ can be treated as a global internal state variable [34] whose
presence into the problem formulation should be accompanied by a corresponding evolution
equation [-33-34]. In other words, the evolution equation for ~ cannot be simply derived using
the conservation laws already used in the formulation of the problem, such as (50), because this
would make it impossible to construct a corresponding well posed boundary value problem. On
the other hand, a crack evolution law and a well posed problem can be derived using a
thermodynamic analysis such as the one presented here if some additional and ad hoc
assumptions are made. Clearly, the validity of such assumptions must be evaluated depending
on the specific problem at hand. This matter will be more extensively considered in cases 2 and 3
presented below.
3.2. Simplified examples
We will now apply the analysis presented so far to three important cases of crack propagation:
CASE 1: self similar crack propagation
CASE 2: slow crack growth under general deformation of the c.z.
CASE 3: slow crack growth under cyclic loading
Case 1. Let A be the length of the cohesive zone of a rectilinear crack
A =





F. Costanzo and D.H. Allen

Assume that A is constant in time and let the crack p r o p a g a t i o n take place in such a way that all
of the c.z. state variables appear constant in time to an observer traveling with the c.z. itself. This
type of cohesive zone evolution will be referred to as self-similar crack propagation. The above
assumptions are certainly restrictive, hut the crack evolution that results from them is quite
interesting in that it is analogous to that studied in the previous sections; moreover, this is the
case studied by Barenblatt [47]. Under such hypotheses we have

q~ =

&~ ~.


F r o m (39) and (52) we also have





Thus, applying (53} to the quantities CSi and ~, from (47) we have


re [g/i]vi d~ = 0,



and from (46) and (27) we obtain

ai dOi;

G =

N = 2;'o-


,,J ~ii(//) = 0

Thus, we see that the crack advancement resistance reduces to 270, due to the fact that the c.z. is
assumed not to undergo deformation with respect to an observer that travels with it. Finally,
substituting (54) and (55) into (48) results in

(G -- 2,'0)~i =

i IlIt)[qi]vld~.


d ~(t)

Equation (56) is formally similar and conceptually identical to (19), and the first (55) is a fairly
known result derived by Rice [22, 55]. Under the restrictions imposed by inequality (36) we
see that the c.z. evolution described above, that is self-similar crack growth, is admissible only
when G >~ R. From (55) and (56) we see that a theory of crack propagation with a cohesive
zone, under self-similar growth conditions, recovers the results of the classical theory as a
special case, or, in other words, that a running crack without a cohesive zone behaves like a
running crack with a cohesive zone when the c.z. is constrained to p r o p a g a t e in a self-similar
Remark 3.2. If the cohesive zone were purely elastic, during crack p r o p a g a t i o n it would behave
as a line heat source. This is in analogy to the interpretation given by Nguyen [29] for the case
without a c.z. When inelastic mechanisms are present, then some of the heat generated within
the c.z. is due not only to fracture but also to inelastic dissipation. In order to show this,

Problems in subcritical crack propagation


consider a case in which q~ is constant along the c.z. Thus, from (34), (42) and (52) we have

p -

~ - ~ = 0,



J,O = a,3 e, = [q,]v,.


Equation (58) illustrates the point. Note that (57) implies that the transformation is isentropic
for the c.z.
Case 2. During rapid crack propagation a significant temperature concentration is observed at
the crack tip and its vicinities. During slow crack growth, instead, the heating in the vicinity of
the crack tip is much more contained. Up to the point that, in some instances it is reasonable to
assume that the heat flux out of the crack tip is null. This assumption can be given the following
mathematical form:

f aul [qi]vl d~ = O.



Note that (59) does not imply that there is no heating around the crack tip, it only implies that
there is no contribution to that heating from the movement of the cohesive zone, or, in other
words, that the cohesive zone is not behaving like a line heat source. Heating around the
cohesive zone can still occur due to the presence of dissipation mechanisms within the bulk of
the material.
Substituting (59) into (48) we obtain


") [gh]Vi d~ + (G - R)~ = 0.



Recalling that the first term on the left hand side represents the heat flux due to c.z. inelastic
dissipation computed at constant ~ and that therefore it cannot be negative, in order for (60) to
be satisfied the crack extension process (~ > 0) must necessarily be subcritical, i.e. (G - R) < 0.
Moreover, under assumption (59) it is possible to derive the crack evolution law directly from
the first law of thermodynamics for the c.z., i.e. (60). In fact, since both the first term on the left
hand side of (60) and the generalized thermodynamic force (G - R) are independent of the crack
propagation rate, it is possible, under the circumstance, to solve (60) with respect to the crack
propagation rate to obtain

plo [Cli]Vi d(
(R - G)


Remark 3.3. Note that (59) also implies that, in this case, the c.z. evolution takes place with no
net dissipation, which means that all of the energy dissipated by inelastic mechanisms in the c.z.


F. Costanzo and D.H. Allen

is then stored by crack propagation. If, on one hand, this assumption (and the relative
conclusion) can be supported by invoking the principle of minimum entropy production [18],
on the other hand the fact still remains that the evolution law (61) is a piece of information not
independent of the first law of thermodynamics, as it should be in the context of a more rigorous
constitutive theory. In this sense a remarkable result could be that of showing how (61) is
recoverable from a more general evolution law when ~-+ 0, as the evolution of the system
body-plus-cohesive-zone tends towards a globally reversible transformation in the thermostatic
Case 3. When the body is subjected to cyclic loading it is possible to provide a specialized form
of the crack growth rate in terms of crack advancement per cycle. Integrating (96) with respect
to time over a load cycle of period At, we obtain


(RM -- GM)'

where A:~ is the crack growth per cycle, and

[~i]vid~ dt =


/ /

/cri ~,

kJ=('~ \


d~ dt.



Also, GM and RM are, respectively, the mean values of the energy release rate and of the crack
advancement resistance during the cycle, such that

(RM -- GM)Ac~ =

(R - G),~idr.


Laws such as that derived above have been formally obtained in [16 19]. Thus (62) is not a new
result from the conceptual viewpoint except for the fact that its derivation has ben carried out in
a way consistent with a rigorous thermodynamic analysis and that each term has been
unambiguously defined. The most significant difference with other fatigue growth laws is the
presence in the numerator of (62), explicitly shown in (63), of a term that explicitly depends on
the temperature of the c.z. The c.z. temperature, just like the temperature in the neighborhood of
the c.z., is determined by the dissipation in the bulk of the material outside the c.z. This point
has not been widely addressed in the literature, especially as far as the determination of the
temperature field around the crack tip (which would require the solution of a two way coupled
heat conduction problem) is concerned. Attempts to experimentally determine the energy
dissipated during crack propagation in polymers have been recently made by Botsis and
co-workers [55 57] utilizing the theory developed by Chudnovsky [-18]. Such a theory is
different from the one presented here in that it is based on the existence of a process zone around
the crack rather than a cohesive zone. The characterization of the constitutive behavior of the
cohesive zone instead still remains an open issue, attempts to do so have been made primarily
for polymeric materials [58 63]. As for metals, the usual choice is the traditional Dugdale
model, properly modified for fatigue application as suggested by Budiansky and Hutchinson

Problems in subcritical crack propagation


In practical applications, (62) is often used in a much simplified form. For example, it is often
assumed that
RM = 270,

G M = GMax;

w h e r e Gma x

As -

is the maximum value of G in a given cycle. Thus, (62) is simplified to



27o - G~ax'


AA =




L J 7(t)

As can be seen from (67), AA is the part of the plastic work per cycle done independently of an
advancement of c~. In studies in metal fatigue with small scale yielding, it is usually considered
acceptable to approximate GMaxand AA as follows [15-16, 19]
GMa x = aK~lax;

AA = bAK 4,


where KMax is the maximum value of the stress intensity factor and AK is the stress intensity
factor range during a cycle; a and b are constants. Thus, (66) is then rewritten in the well known
AK 4
Ac~ = A gcr2 - g2ax


where A is a constant that accounts for the geometry of the body and Kcr is the critical value of
the stress intensity factor.
Note that when the denominator of (69) is constant the advancement per cycle appears to be
proportional to the fourth power of the stress intensity factor range, which has been experimentally verified by Paris [2-3]. The derivation of (69) has been presented here not only to show
that, after a great deal of simplifying assumptions a law of the Paris type can be derived, but also
to explicitly show the number and type of the mentioned assumptions. In particular, the three
main simplifying hypotheses behind (69) consist of:
(1) assuming that the process is globally non-dissipative, as discussed in Remark 3.3;
(2) that the resistance to crack growth reduces to a constant value, as shown in (65); and
(3) that the process is independent of the temperature field around the crack as can be seen by
the comparison of (63) and (67).
For these reasons the authors feel that there is still a strong need for theoretical research in the
field of fatigue and evolution laws for crack propagation in general, and that the application of


F. Costanzo and D.H. Allen

concepts from general constitutive theories with internal state variables to the problems
discussed here can prove quite useful.

4. Discontinuous crack propagation

In this section we intend to demonstrate by a simple analysis of the problem of discontinuous
crack propagation (DCP) the power of the model proposed herein. For the case of DCP, the
simplified examples discussed in the previous section do not appear to be adequate. Thus, a
properly modified cohesive zone model will be presented and analyzed.
Microscopic analyses of striation patterns in polymers under cyclic loadings [65, 11 12] have
shown that under certain loading conditions 'fatigue cracks progress across the specimen in
discontinuous increments associated with a large number ~] loading cycles' [65]. Such a
phenomenon is referred to as discontinuous crack propagation (DCP). With reference to Fig. 3,
it has been shown [65, 11 12] that DCP in polymers may take place when a single craze zone
(zone 1) is present together with yielded bulk polymer (zone 2) ahead of the crack tip. During
cyclic loading the crack tip at ~ can remain stationary while the craze zone grows continuously.
When some critical condition is achieved, typically when the length of the craze zone ~ - ~ is
roughly 90-100 percent of fl - : rupture propagates across the craze and it typically stops
where the crack tip position at [: was, prior to the fracture event. DCP is therefore a fairly
complex non self-similar fracture phenomenon, in that at the macroscopic scale it appears like
ordinary subcritical crack propagation whereas at the crack tip scale it may display both a
subcritical and an unstable growth of the craze zone followed by another type of unstable
behavior when the sudden rupture of the mature craze takes place. An additional element of
complexity is represented by the fact that the crack growth mode will, at a certain stage,
undergo a transition from DCP to ordinary fatigue crack growth, i.e. advancement of the crack
front at every cycle. Moreover, the fact that the fracture energy required to break the craze
fibrils is time dependent cannot be neglected [62], similarly to the constitutive equations of the



F#I. 3. Two-phasecohesivezone model.

Problems in subcritical crack propagation


craze zone itself. Thus, a complete study of D C P requires the development of time dependent
constitutive equations for the craze zone togeter with the adoption of time dependent material
properties. It also requires a stability analysis capable of predicting when the unstable fracture
takes the place of the craze subcritical propagation and when DCP will turn into FCG. Very few
models for D C P have been presented in the open literature [12, 66], at least to the authors'
knowledge, and the thermodynamics of the process certainly needs further study. In what follows, a
two-phase cohesive zone model for D C P together with its thermodynamic analysis will be
presented. From a conceptual viewpoint, the model presented here is based on a generalization of
definitions (27) and (28). The focus of the discussion will be on the analysis of subcritical craze
propagation during DCP, leaving a more detailed and complete analysis to future studies.

4.1. A two-phase cohesive zone model for DCP

With reference to Fig. 3, consider a cohesive zone of length fl - ct that presents two phases
(zones) with distinct structure and behavior. It is assumed that the structure of phase 2 can be
changed into that of phase 1 when the c.z. is under load. Such a structure change will be referred
to as a phase change. Clearly, in order for this phase change to occur it is necessary to expend a
certain amount of energy. It is assumed that a phase change energy per unit length Z = Z(xi, t)
can be defined. Z is a material property, generally a function of time and temperature and it is to
be experimentally determined. Let ~(t) be the position of the phase boundary along the c.z. The
c.z. opening displacement 61 must be a continuous function, whereas a discontinuity for the
cohesive force ai will be allowed at ( = ~ in order to differentiate between the constitutive
behavior of the two phases. Such a difference in behavior also justifies the assumption that both
the c.z. internal energy and the c.z. entropy may have discontinuities at the phase boundary.
lim e(~(t) - d, t) = el;

lim e(~(t) + d, t) = E2,



lim ~p(~(t) - d, t) = q91;

l i m q~({(t) + d, t) = q~2,



where d e R+, and, in general, el # 2 and 1 - (P2. Recall that (31) is valid independently of the
number of phases within the c.z. Using relationships (70) and the transport theorem, the first and
second laws for the c.z. can be rewritten as follows

diP(" e d ( + 27d + (e2

dt d a(t)

d f #(

-- gl)~ =

t ~"~(~7i(~i -- [qi]vi)d(,

j a(t)

F #(t)[qOvi d( ~> 0,



where the more general ? = 7(t) has been used instead of the (constant) 7o. Note that @2 - el ) d~
and ( 2 - 1)d~ are, respectively, the energy and the entropy necessary to transform an
amount d~ of phase 2 into phase 1. Thus, we have
Z ~ - ~2 - ~ 1 ,

q~ -- q52 - qSt,
where the phase change entropy per unit length q) is also a material property.



F. Costanzo and D.H. Allen

Analogously to what has been discussed about (39), we now have a situation in which a
generic variable ~b may be rewritten as an explicit function not only of ~(t) but also of ~(t). Thus,
the material time derivative of a generic c.z. variable can be written as
(?~bi + (?q5 ~



Using (74), the first law is more conveniently rewritten as follows

j :~lt~




d g + (G~ - R~)~ + (G~ - Re)~


J ~ut

[qi]vi d(~,


where G~ and R~ are defined exactly as in (46), and, G~ and R~ are the phase transformation
driving force and resistance respectively

G~= I




As far as the second law is concerned, it is clear that inequality (37) still holds in each of the two
phases, and that the c.z. evolution is globally constrained by inequality (36).
Within the context of a global thermodynamic analysis [34], the quantity G~ - R~ is the
generalized thermodynamic force associated with the kinematic variable 3, just as G~ - R~ is the
flux associated with ~. Thus, the quantity (G - R~)~ represents the rate at which mechanical
energy is dissipated by the propagation of phase ! (e.g. craze propagation). Based on this
observation, one can distinguish two fundamental types of phase 1 (craze) propagation. The first
type, which will be referred to as phase I se![-propaqation, is characterized by the following
> 0;

G >~ R~.


The second type, which will be referred to as phase l subcritical propagation, is characterized by
the conditions:
> 0;

0 < G~ < Re.


It is clear that in the first case, the phase 1 propagation is in fact behaving as a dissipation
mechanism, whereas in the second case phase 1 propagation is behaving as an energy storage
mechanism, as already discussed in Remark 2.4 in Section 2.2.
Before analyzing the subcritical evolution of phase 1, it is interesting to consider a case of
crack propagation with pure translation of the two-phase c.z. The assumptions regarding this
type of crack propagation have already been discussed in Case 1 of Section 3.2. In this particular
instance we also have
~i = ~.


Problems in subcritical crack propagation


Thus, (75) can be simplified to

[G* -- (27 + Z)]~ =


[qlJvi d~,


d ~(t)


G* =

ai dfi.



From (80), when Z > 0, we see that the material is toughened by the presence of a two-phase
system since it behaves with an apparent surface energy 2y* which is greater than the surface
energy 2y in the crack tip wake

2y* = 27 + Z.


Note that in order for such an evolution to be thermodynamically admissible the following
condition must be satisfied
G* ~> 27*


The result in (82) is of a certain importance because it offers a stronger justification for the study
of a two-phase cohesive zone. In fact the study of such a c.z. could be of great interest not only
for DCP but also for the understanding of phase transformation toughening phenomena both in
polymers and in ceramics [53-54, 67].

Remark 4.1. The two-phase model presented can be simplified in such a way that only one
phase is present in the cohesive zone and that it is still possible to describe DCP. Such a
simplification is achieved by postulating the existence of a single phase and by changing (27) and
(28) as follows

0 ~< ( ~< ~(t)

= ~(C, t), ~(t) ~< C ~</~(t),

~ =/~(t),
~0 = ~o(~, t),


0 ~< r/~< ~(t)

~(t) ~< C ~</~(t),


( = fl(t),

where ~p' is the crack surface entropy outside the c.z. The c.z. evolution is then analyzed using
the same procedure outlined above.

F. Costanzo and D.H. Allen


4.2. Analysis of subcritical cohesive zone growth during DCP

As has already been discussed in the introduction to this section, DCP consists of a two stage
process: a gradual c.z. growth (stage 1) accompanied by a degradation of the c.z. material
properties, eventually followed by an actual crack growth (stage 2) through the damaged
portion of the c.z. Stage 1 of the evolution can take place in a self-propagating or in a subcritical
fashion. The former case is typical of c,z. growth under creep conditions, whereas the latter
appears to be more typical of cyclic loading. In this section we will focus on c.z. subcritical
growth during cyclic loading. Such an evolution is characterized by the following conditions:





Under conditions (86) and using (40)~43), Eqn. (75) becomes

[Oi]vi d~ + (G - R)~ =
[q,]vi d~,


where the first term on the left hand side has been defined in (47). The above equation is formally
similar to (48). Thus, if we were to follow the procedure discussed in Case 2 of Section 3.2, for the
case where

~m [qi]vl d~ = 0,



and integrating with respect to time over a cycle, we obtain a result formally similar to (62):

A~ = -



R~,.,~ - GeM'

where A~ is the phase boundary advancement per cycle. The numerator has been defined in (63)

zX~(G,~ - R,~) --

[(G - R~)4 d~] dr.



The meaning of the quantities in the numerator of (89) has been discussed in Case 3 of Section
3.2, where we have also shown that equations such as (89) can be further simplified for practical
purposes according to the second of (65). In such cases (89) becomes

A~ -



4.3. A simple example of DCP

The purpose of this section is to demonstrate the qualitative evolutionary trend described by
relationship (91), Thus, we now proceed to solve an extremely simple DCP problem. The choice

Problems in subcritical crack propagation


of geometry and material properties both for the body and the cohesive zone is not intended to
represent any real material system but rather is made in such a way that the resulting boundary
value problem can be solved in closed form. In particular, as shown in Fig. 4, the body is
assumed to be infinitely extended and linear elastic. Figure 4 also shows the loading conditions,
represented by a uniform traction distribution in the direction perpendicular to the crack plane.
The cohesive zone has been assumed to behave, in each of the phases, like a Dugdale model.
Each phase is therefore characterized by a uniform cohesive force distribution of known value,
as shown in Fig. 5. Such an approach is rather common in the study of crazing in polymers [12,
58-59, 63]. The problem outlined was solved, in closed form, with the use of Muskhelishvili
complex potentials [68], under the assumption of plane stress deformation, using the material
constants for Polystyrene given in 1-56 57] and summarized in Table 1. The following empirical
instability condition has been chosen: an advancement of ~ to the position occupied by//occurs
when (~ - ~) ~> 0.95(/~ - c~). Such a criterion is based on the observations by Hertzberg et al.
1-65] that, for different polymers, the craze zone ahead of a crack tip seems to become unstable
during the last 10 percent of its life cycle, which corresponds roughly to a craze development
between 90 and 100 percent of the length of the entire cohesive zone.
Figures 6a-6e show the trend of two cases of DCP, obtained with the use of (126) together
with the following approximations
GeM = GeM.x; RCM = g.


The results shown in Fig. 6a and Fig. 6b have been computed using 0.1 MPa as the value for the
maximum applied load To and 5.0 x 10-3m as the value of the inital crack length. The results




--i 5
Fig. 4. Examplegeometryand load conditions.



F. Costanzo and D.H. Allen

fO-c. Z.

Fio. 5. Two-phase Dugdale model.
Fable 1. Example material properties

Material properties


Young's modulus

2.2 GPa
18.0 MPa
30.0 J/m 2

in Fig. 6c and Fig. 6d have been obtained using the same initial crack length and a maximum
applied load twice that of the previous case.

5. Conclusions

In this work some important theoretical results of the thermodynamic approach to fracture have
been summarized and extended to the problem of subcritical crack growth of a crack with a
cohesive zone. It has been shown that the introduction of a cohesive zone into the continuum
mechanics description allows one to overcome some difficulties regarding the dissipation
analysis of fracture processes, without invoking non-local models. In particular, the issue of the
thermodynamic admissibility of subcritical crack growth has been addressed, and the admissibility conditions discussed. An in-depth analysis of the hypotheses underlying the derivation of
crack propagation laws using thermodynamics has also been presented. The theory has then
been applied to the case of discontinuous crack propagation, leading to an approximate DCP
law, whose qualitative behavior has been computed for a very simple case. Further study is
certainly necessary, especially to obtain a better characterization of the constitutive equations
for the cohesive zone. Also, the coupling of the thermodynamic analysis with elements of the
kinetic theory of fracture is necessary in order to obtain more general crack advancement laws.

Problems in subcritical crack propagation

Piscon.~ir~uo~ts Cvc{c/c lb'opeqqc(.~i.o~t

5.oo~es-aC a s e l : a=O. Olm.; To=O. lMIJct



~,~ 5 . 0 0 0 8 - 3

/_j-- U



/-- /

















-' '1.,~

Fig. 6a. Discontinuous crack propagation.


Disco~z{i~zuo~.ts CTack P r o p a g a ~ i o ~
C a s e l " a=O. O l m ; To=O. I M P a











N~t~be~- o f CycLes
Fig. 5b. C.Z. evolution during DCP.





F. C o s t a n z o and D.H. Allen

C'r c~c lc P ' r o)~ c~.<1 c~.1.~o rc

c~=O. Olv>; To=O.2Ml:k~

D i s c o n ~i.~xto'ct~'





.r J


~'~5, 0080E-3




















AT~'rr~,t,)ev ~ o.J" (7./c2o.s'


Discontinuous crack propagation.


Discorvi'Ln~ov.s C~'ctck Proioctgctio'~x

S.ooaoE-3Corse2." c~=O. Olr~," To=O.2MPc







Pit. 6d.



T{p Coo~'cli',xct{e fl






C.Z. evolution during DCP.



Problems in subcritical crack propagation



Crack P r o p a g a t i o n
c A = O . 0 ] TTL




_ - - - To=O. I M P a
To = O. 2 M P a














Nuwzber of Cyol~es
Fig. 6e. Comparison of the two DCP cases.

As far as discontinuous crack propagation is concerned, it is felt that a detailed accurate

thermodynamic analysis is necessary, especially regarding the stability of the cohesive zone
evolution and the transition from a DCP mode to a SCG mode, during which crack
propagation occurs at every load cycle. Possible applications of the theory include the study of
delamination in laminated composites, R-toughening in ceramics and problems of matrix-fiber
interface degradation in fiber reinforced composites.

The authors are grateful to Dr. J.G. Boyd for valuable discussions and gratefully acknowledge
partial funding for this research, which was supplied by NASA Langley Research Center, under
Grant NAG 1-1120.

1. P.C. Paris, in Fatigue Thresholds, J. Backlund, A.F. Biota and C.J. Beevers (eds.), Chamelem, London, 1 (1982) 3 10.
2. P.C. Paris, The Growth of Cracks Due to the Variations in Loads, Ph.D. thesis, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa.


F. C o s t a n z o and D.H. Allen

P.C. Paris and F. Erdogan, Journal (~I'Basic Engineering 85 (1963) 528-534.
N.E. Frost and J.R. Dixon, International Journal o]' Fracture Mechanics 3 (1967) 301-306.
F.A. McClintock, in Fracture ~!'Solids, John Wiley & Sons (1963) 65- 102.
J.R. Rice, in Fatigue Crack Propagation, ASTM STP 415 (1967) 247---309.
J. Weertman, in Fatigue and Mierostrueture, American Society of Metals, Metals Park, Ohio (t979) 279-306.
R.W. Hertzberg, DeJi~rmation and Fracture Mechanics ~[ Enginnering Materials, John Wiley & Sons (1976).
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