A Variationally Consistent Approach for Crack Propagation Based on Configurational Forces

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This paper is concerned with a variationally consistent approach suitable for the analysis of cracking in brittle materials. In line with the pioneering works by Griffith, it is assumed that a crack propagates, if this is energetically favorable. However, in order to bypass the well-known defects of Griffith's original idea such as the requirement of a pre-existing crack, a modified energy-based criterion is proposed. In contrast to Griffith and similar to Francfort and Marigo, the novel cracking model is based on a finite crack extension. More precisely, new crack surfaces form, if this leads to a reduction in energy within a finite (but not global) neighborhood. The features of the advocated model are critically analyzed.