Using overlay test to evaluate fracture properties of field-aged asphalt concrete

Fan Gu, Xue Luo, Yuqing Zhang, Robert L. Lytton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Field material testing provides firsthand information on pavement conditions which are most helpful in evaluating performance and identifying preventive maintenance or overlay strategies. High variability of field asphalt concrete due to construction raises the demand for accuracy of the test. Accordingly, the objective of this study is to propose a reliable and repeatable methodology to evaluate the fracture properties of field-aged asphalt concrete using the overlay test (OT). The OT is selected because of its efficiency and feasibility for asphalt field cores with diverse dimensions. The fracture properties refer to the Paris’ law parameters based on the pseudo J-integral (A and n) because of the sound physical significance of the pseudo J-integral with respect to characterizing the cracking process.

In order to determine A and n, a two-step OT protocol is designed to characterize the undamaged and damaged behaviors of asphalt field cores. To ensure the accuracy of determined undamaged and fracture properties, a new analysis method is then developed for data processing, which combines the finite element simulations and mechanical analysis of viscoelastic force equilibrium and evolution of pseudo displacement work in the OT specimen. Finally, theoretical equations are derived to calculate A and n directly from the OT test data. The accuracy of the determined fracture properties is verified.

The proposed methodology is applied to a total of 27 asphalt field cores obtained from a field project in Texas, including the control Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) and two types of warm mix asphalt (WMA). The results demonstrate a high linear correlation between n and −log A for all the tested field cores. Investigations of the effect of field aging on the fracture properties confirm that n is a good indicator to quantify the cracking resistance of asphalt concrete. It is also indicated that summer climatic condition clearly accelerates the rate of aging. The impact of the WMA technologies on fracture properties of asphalt concrete is visualized by comparing the n-values. It shows that the Evotherm WMA technology slightly improves the cracking resistance, while the foaming WMA technology provides the comparable fracture properties with the HMA. After 15 months aging in the field, the cracking resistance does not exhibit significant difference between HMA and WMAs, which is confirmed by the observations of field distresses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1059-1068
Number of pages10
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Issue numberPart 1
Early online date10 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note



  • Paris’ law
  • overlay test
  • crack propagation
  • field-aged asphalt concrete
  • warm mix asphalt


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