Published in Archives of Computational Methods in Engineering Published online, 2018
The importance of crack propagation in the structural behaviour of concrete and masonry structures has led to the development of a wide range of finite element methods for crack simulation. A common standpoint in many of them is the use of tracking algorithms, which identify and designate the location of cracks within the analysed structure. In this way, the crack modelling techniques, smeared or discrete, are applied only to a restricted part of the discretized domain. This paper presents a review of finite element approaches to cracking focusing on the development and use of tracking algorithms. These are presented in four categories according to the information necessary for the definition and storage of the crack-path. In addition to that, the most utilised criteria for the selection of the crack propagation direction are summarized. The various algorithmic issues involved in the development of a tracking algorithm are discussed through the presentation of a local tracking algorithm based on the smeared crack approach. Challenges such as the modelling of arbitrary and multiple cracks propagating towards more than one direction, as well as multi-directional and intersecting cracking, are detailed. The presented numerical model is applied to the analysis of small- and large-scale masonry and concrete structures under monotonic and cyclic loading.
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