Neural Networks Modeling of Stress Growth in Asphalt Overlays due to Load and Thermal Effects during Reflection Cracking Academic Article uri icon


  • Although several techniques have been introduced to reduce reflective cracking, one of the primary forms of distress in hot-mix asphalt (HMA) overlays of flexible and rigid pavements, the underlying mechanism and causes of reflective cracking are not yet well understood. Fracture mechanics is used to understand the stable and progressive crack growth that often occurs in engineering components under varying applied stress. The stress intensity factor (SIF) is its basis and describes the stress state at the crack tip. This can be used with the appropriate material properties to calculate the rate at which the crack will propagate in a linear elastic manner. Unfortunately, the SIF is difficult to compute or measure, particularly if the crack is situated in a complex three-dimensional (3D) geometry or subjected to a non-simple stress state. In this study, the neural networks (NN) methodology is successfully used to model the SIF as cracks grow upward through a HMA overlay as a result of both load and thermal effects with and without reinforcing interlayers. Nearly 100,000 runs of a finite-element program were conducted to calculate the SIFs at the tip of the reflection crack for a wide variety of crack lengths and pavement structures. The coefficient of determination (R2) of all the developed NN models except one was above 0.99. Owing to the rapid prediction of SIFs using developed NN models, the overall computer run time for a 20-year reflection cracking prediction of a typical overlay was significantly reduced. 2011 American Society of Civil Engineers.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Ceylan, H., Gopalakrishnan, K., & Lytton, R. L.

citation count

  • 37

publication date

  • March 2011