Supershear bursts in the propagation of a tensile crack in linear elastic material

Since the early years of the linear elastic theory of fracture [linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM)], scientists have sought to understand and predict how fast cracks grow in a material or slip fronts propagate along faults. While shear cracks can travel faster than the shear wave speed, the Rayleigh wave speed is the limiting speed theoretically predicted for tensile failure. This work uncovers the existence of supershear episodes in the tensile (mode I) rupture of linearly elastic materials beyond the maximum allowable (sub-Rayleigh) speed predicted by the classical theory of dynamic fracture. While the admissible rupture speeds predicted by LEFM are verified for smooth crack fronts, we present numerically how a supershear burst can emerge from a discontinuity in crack front curvature. Using a spectral formulation of the three-dimensional elastodynamic equations coupled with a cohesive model of fracture, we study how these short-lived bursts create shock waves persisting far from the discontinuity site. This study provides insight on crack front instabilities present in the rapid tensile failure of brittle materials due to large distortions of the rupture front.

Published in:
Physical Review E, 98, 6, 063002
Dec 07 2018

 Record created 2018-12-11, last modified 2019-06-19

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