Date of Award

Spring 2015

Project Type


Program or Major

Civil Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Jo S Daniel

Second Advisor

Eshan V Dave

Third Advisor

Majid Ghayoomi


Cracking is a major distress for asphalt concrete pavements and presents significant challenges to effective design and maintenance. Fatigue and thermal cracking decrease ride quality of the pavement and allow water to penetrate into underlying layers, which can result in major damage if left unchecked. The primary obstacle in predicting field performance for cracking in asphalt pavements is related to the interaction of material, structural, and environmental components. The major objective of this work is to develop index parameters to relate material and structural parameters, identifying whether a mixture is prone to fatigue or thermal cracking.

A Simplified Viscoelastic Continuum Damage (S-VECD) model, which relates material integrity and damage growth under repeated loading, is used in this project. The structural response is evaluated using layered elastic analysis principles in order to establish a material-structure space, where the pass/fail determination is based. This pass/fail index parameter is operationally efficient and easy to implement at a contractor or owner agency with capacity to test materials in the S-VECD configuration.

A thermal cracking parameter is developed for mixtures through a relation to laboratory and field performances in terms of Black Space. Since Black Space diagrams are able to capture changes in stiffness and relaxation, where separation would be indicative of poorly performing materials, these parameters provide insight into relationships among pavement structures and mixture designs. The results also lend themselves to the formation of performance-related specifications, where agencies can require a certain parameter value based on experimental and field observations. Opportunities exist to extend the parameter definitions among length scales, to further examine the effects of each on cracking performance. The capabilities of the parameter will influence design and funding decisions, resulting in cost savings at the owner agency and contractor levels through enhanced performance and a reduced testing framework.