Acta Geotechnica

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 223–245 | Cite as

Environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) and nanoindentation investigation of the crack tip process zone in marble

  • Z. Brooks
  • F. -J. Ulm
  • H. H. Einstein
Research Paper


This study explores the interaction between crack initiation and nanomechanical properties in the crack-tip fracture process zone of Carrara marble. Specimens with preexisting cracks were loaded in a uniaxial testing machine until the process zone appeared at the tips of the preexisting cracks. ESEM analysis reveals an increase in microcrack density in the process zone with increased loading of the specimen. Nanoindentation testing comprised of lines and grids of single nanoindentations located both near and far from the process zone shows a decrease in both indentation modulus and indentation hardness near grain boundaries in intact material, and with closeness to the process zone. Ultimately, the study confirms that the crack-tip process zone manifests itself as an area of reduced indentation hardness and indentation modulus in marble.


Carrara marble Environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) Fracture process zone Nanoindentation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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