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Using Acoustic Emission Waveform Characterization to Ascertain Where Cracks Originate in Concrete



Yaghoob Farnam, M R. Geiker, Dale P. Bentz, Jason Weiss


Different constituents of concrete can have cracking behavior that varies in terms of the acoustic waveform that is generated. Understanding the waveform may provide insight into the source and behavior of a crack that occurs in a cementitious composite. In this study, passive acoustic emission (AE) was used to investigate the waveform properties of the individual components of concrete (i.e., aggregate, paste, and interfacial transition zone (ITZ)). First, acoustic events produced by cracks generated using mechanical loading in a wedge splitting test were detected. It was observed that cracks that occurred through the aggregate have an AE frequency range between 300 kHz and 400 kHz, while cracks that propagated through the matrix (paste and ITZ) have a frequency range between 100 kHz and 300 kHz. Second, tests were performed using samples which were susceptible to alkali silica reaction; and AE and x-ray computed tomography were used to detect cracking. AE events with a frequency range between 300 kHz to 400 kHz were detected at early ages, suggesting the initiation of cracks within reactive aggregate. At later ages, AE events were detected with frequency ranges of 100 kHz to 300 kHz, indicating crack development and propagation in the matrix.
Cement and Concrete Composites


Acoustic Emission, Aggregate, Alkali Silica Reaction, Concrete, Fracture, Matrix


Farnam, Y. , Geiker, M. , Bentz, D. and Weiss, J. (2015), Using Acoustic Emission Waveform Characterization to Ascertain Where Cracks Originate in Concrete, Cement and Concrete Composites, [online],, (Accessed April 12, 2024)
Created April 26, 2015, Updated October 12, 2021