Theses and Dissertations


Z Kyle Crosby

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Gullett, Philip M.

Committee Member

Howard, Isaac L.

Committee Member

Cargile, James Donald

Committee Member

Freyne, Seamus F.

Committee Member

Akers, Stephen A.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Civil Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


The effects of microcracking on the mechanical properties of Salem limestone were investigated in three phases: introduction of quantifiable levels of microcracks by thermal treating, mechanical testing of limestone samples with varying levels of microcracks, and modification of a numerical model to incorporate the measured effects. This work demonstrated that this approach is useful for examination of the effects of microcracking on quasi-brittle materials and can be used to improve the predictive capabilities of material models. Thermal treating was found to consistently induce quantifiable levels of microcracks in Salem limestone. Sonic wave velocities indicated that the induced microstructural changes were a function of the maximum temperature. The wave velocities showed little variability demonstrating the effectiveness of the approach for inducing consistent levels of microcracking. X-ray diffraction, differential scanning calorimetry, and thermogravimetric analysis confirmed that no composition changes occurred for the temperature range of interest. Computed tomography scanning, scanning electron microscopy, and optical microscopy (OM) were used to observe microstructural changes caused by the heat treatments. OM analysis was the primary method used in the microcrack characterization and yielding qualitative and quantitative data. OM images showed an increase in grain boundary and intragranular cracking with increasing maximum heat treatment temperatures. Stereological evaluation provided microcrack data indicating that microcrack density increased as function of the maximum heat treatment temperatures. Mechanical testing was performed to characterize the mechanical response of the intact and damaged limestone. Quasi-static tests included uniaxial compression, triaxial compression, hydrostatic compression, and uniaxial strain / constant volume tests. Microcracking did not affect the limestone’s strength at pressures greater than 10 MPa. Dynamic tests were performed using a modified split Hopkinson pressure bar. Microcracking did not have an effect on the dynamic strength of the limestone. The results of the mechanical tests were used to modify the HJC model. Modifications were made to account for shear modulus degradation and failure surface changes. The original and modified HJC models were used in a numerical analysis of the mechanical tests performed in this work. The modified HJC provided better results for damaged material when compared with the quasi-static and dynamic experiments.