A crack propagation criterion for a rock–concrete interface is employed to investigate the evolution of the fracture process zone (FPZ) in rock–concrete composite beams under three-point bending (TPB). According to the criterion, cracking initiates along the interface when the difference between the mode I stress intensity factor at the crack tip caused by external loading and the one caused by the cohesive stress acting on the fictitious crack surfaces reaches the initial fracture toughness of a rock–concrete interface. From the experimental results of the composite beams with various initial crack lengths but equal depths under TPB, the interface fracture parameters are determined. In addition, the FPZ evolution in a TPB specimen is investigated by using a digital image correlation technique. Thus, the fracture processes of the rock–concrete composite beams can be simulated by introducing the initial fracture criterion to determine the crack propagation. By comparing the load versus crack mouth opening displacement curves and FPZ evolution, the numerical and experimental results show a reasonable agreement, which verifies the numerical method developed in this study for analysing the crack propagation along the rock–concrete interface. Finally, based on the numerical results, the effect of ligament length on the FPZ evolution and the variations of the fracture model during crack propagation are discussed for the rock–concrete interface fracture under TPB. The results indicate that ligament length significantly affects the FPZ evolution at the rock–concrete interface under TPB and the stress intensity factor ratio of modes II to I is influenced by the specimen size during the propagation of the interfacial crack.
- rock-concrete interface; interfacial fracture; FPZ evolution; crack propagation; numerical simulation