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Brittle fracture arrest - The state of art in a multiscale universe


This state-of-the-art paper is devoted to testing and evaluation of microstructural crack arrest. Testing and analysis of crack arrest have developed in the last decades, enhancing our understanding of the mechanisms behind crack arrest in a continuum mechanics perspective. Understanding crack arrest is important when operations are moving towards Arctic regions as low temperatures are detrimental to most steel’s fracture toughness. Large-scale testing is expensive and unpractical, and current methods fail to reflect the microstructural and micromechanical features of the fracture process. In order to increase the effectiveness of characterizing crack arrest properties, small-scale tests, as well as numerical methods, have been developed. The mechanical basis and mechanisms behind crack arrest are presented. Global and micro-arrest is considered. Key methods for understanding, evaluating and obtaining arrest parameters are presented: (i) statistical treatment of experimental results, (ii) barrier models for separating fracture and arrest sequences, and (iii) numerical tools for determining arrest behaviour. Brief presentations of the main mechanisms of crack arrest are presented with focus on the micromechanisms of arrest. The effect of grain boundaries, lattice orientation and second-phase particles upon propagation controlled cleavage are discussed, as well as their role in the arrest mechanism. Developments in arrest testing and evaluation are presented. Experimentally and numerically obtained results are linked to relevant mechanisms and theory, exhibiting the predictability and importance of crack arrest properties, and the understanding of the governing mechanisms behind crack arrest. The potential for increased understanding of the brittle fracture arrest phenomenon associated with new methods for nanomechanical testing of the material properties inside individual grains, and over grain boundaries, as well as the rapidly improving capabilities of atomistic modelling of deformation and fracture, is presented to pave the way for the future research within this field. Areas where further research could enhance our knowledge of crack arrest are listed.


Academic article




  • Brage Dahl Snartland
  • Erling Østby
  • Mons Hauge
  • Xiaobo Ren
  • Christian Thaulow


  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • DNV
  • Equinor
  • SINTEF Industry / Materials and Nanotechnology



Published in

ISOPE - International Offshore and Polar Engineering Conference. Proceedings




International Society of Offshore & Polar Engineers




296 - 303

View this publication at Cristin