Delayed fracture in porous media

Phys Rev Lett. 2005 Oct 21;95(17):175501. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.95.175501. Epub 2005 Oct 17.


The fracture of porous media subjected to a constant load is studied. Contrary to homogeneous solids in which fracture usually happens instantaneously at a well-defined breaking strength, the fracture of a porous medium can occur with a delay, allowing us to quantify the average lifetime of the unbroken material. We show that the average fracture probability, a key property for risk analysis in civil engineering, is given by the probability of crack nucleation. The nucleation process can be understood qualitatively by calculating the activation energy for crack nucleation, taking into account the porosity of the medium.