Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Newman Jr., James C.

Committee Member

Schneider, Judy A.

Committee Member

Daniewicz, Steve R.

Committee Member

Lacy, Thomas E.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Aerospace Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Aerospace Engineering


In the past, the disagreement of near-threshold fatigue-crack growth (FCG) rate data generated from constant Kmax tests, high load ratio (minimum to maximum load) constant R tests, and ΔKeff based data was a mysterious issue. Because of the disagreement, a variety of test or analysis methods were created to correlate FCG rate data. It was suspected that the ASTM threshold test method using load reduction was inducing remote crack closure due to plastically deformed material, which caused elevated thresholds and slower rates than steady-state behavior. The first goal of this study was the development of a test method to eliminate remote closure during threshold testing. In order to avoid/minimize remote closure effect, compression-precracking methods were used to initiate a crack from a starter notch on compact specimens. Two materials with different fatigue crack surface profiles (flat or very rough) were tested and the results generated from the conventional ASTM precracking method and the compression-precracking test method were compared. In order to understand the disagreement of near-threshold data, crack-opening load measurements were performed from locally (near crack tip) installed strain gages instead of the remote gage (i.e., back face gage). Some careful specimen preparations were performed to avoid out-of-plane bending, to maintain straight crack fronts, and to ensure testing system linearity. It was known that remote gages, such as crack-mouth- opening-displacement-gages were insensitive to measuring load-strain records near threshold. By using local gages, the crack closure effects were clearly observed even in high load ratio (R) tests, like or higher than R = 0.7, and constant Kmax tests, which were believed to be crack closure free. By measuring load-reduced-strain records from local gages, crack-opening loads were able to correlate FCG rate data and showed that ΔKeff-rate data was unique for a wide variety of materials. By comparing (ΔKeff)th values, it may provide reasonable guidance for the material resistance against FCG. Because of “high R crack closure”, some theories considered in the past may need to be reconsidered. First, constant Kmax tests are not entirely crack-closure free. Second, there is no critical load ratio, Rc, to indicate the transition from crack-closure affected to crack-closure free data, and Kmax effects that appear in ΔKth-Kmax relations. Research has shown that the three dominate crack-closure mechanisms (plasticity-, roughness- and debris-induced crack closure) FCG rate behavior in the threshold regime from low to high load ratios.