Modelling tensile strain response in asphalt pavements: Bottom-up and/or top-down fatigue crack initiation Academic Article uri icon


  • Traditionally, HMA pavement designs and modeling methods have historically been based on the fundamental assumption that fatigue cracking generally initiates at the bottom of the HMA layer due to excessive tensile stresses/strains, and then propagates upwards to the surface. However, fatigue cracking can either be bottom-up or top-down initiated depending on the location of the maximum horizontal tensile stresses and strains in the HMA layer. Various factors such as the pavement structure and wheel/tire loading configurations influence both the location and magnitude of the fatigue crack-related tensile strains that are induced in the HMA layer. In this study, the influence of these factors on the tensile strains responses and potential location of fatigue crack initiation in HMA pavements was investigated. To address the non-uniformity distribution of the tire-pavement contact pressure (TPCP), including the vertical tire-pavement contact pressure and horizontal tire-pavement stress, a three-dimensional finite element program was utilized for the computational simulations and numerical analyses. Specifically, the actual TPCP of different tire types and tread patterns measured under variable load levels and tire inflation pressures were utilized to evaluate and analyze the potential locations of maximum tensile strains in terms of fatigue crack initiation. The results showed that the longitudinal and low latitudinal tire-pavement stress hardly influence the maximum tensile strains in the HMA layer; and that the maximum tensile strains can occur either at the top or bottom (or both) of the HMA layer, thus inducing top-down and/or bottom-up fatigue crack initiation. Just like heavy-truck tire loading, the study also demonstrated that light-truck tire loading can induce excessive fatigue crack-related tensile strains in the pavement. 2009 Lavoisier.

published proceedings

  • Road Materials and Pavement Design

author list (cited authors)

  • Hu, X., & Walubita, L. F.

citation count

  • 12

publication date

  • January 2009