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Provisions for avoiding brittle fracture in steels used in Australasia including effects of seismic action


Steel structures can suffer from three modes of possible damage, which are brittle fracture, fatigue and corrosion. Corrosion can be mitigated by the applications of protective coatings, fatigue damage can be controlled by in-service inspection, and in contrast, a brittle fracture is a sudden event that only can be avoided by proper design, material selection. Inspection, probability of detection of cracks and material toughness must be considered simultaneously to avoid brittle fracture. To ensure the structural integrity of components, systems and procedures such as SINTAP and Eurocode have been developed, and the following. These procedures were applied to the steel manufactured to the European standards only. The application of the method was transferred to steels referenced in Australian and New Zealand design standards AS4100, NZS3404.1 and AS/NZS5100.6, and specifications. Several steel standards of importance in Australasia have been also considered, such as the new EN 10025, EN 10210, EN 10219, JIS G 3106, JIS 3114, API 5L and ASTM 709. The steel selection procedure has been extended by seismic considerations based on the IIW Recommendations for Assessment of Risk of Fracture.

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Fig. 1


a :

Crack depth measured from surface

a 0 :

Initial crack depth

a f :

Final crack depth

b eff :

Effective length at crack front

c :

½ crack length at surface

C 0 :

Constant of the Paris-Erdogan power law

da :

Increment of crack

dN :

Increment of cycles

f y :

Yield stress

K :

Stress intensity factor (SIF)

K * appl, d :

Applied SIF with all corrections from R6 method

K mat :

Toughness of the material

K r :

SIF relative to Kmat

L r :

Load stress relative to fy

m :

Exponent of the Paris-Erdogan power law

M k(a):

Correction function for weld toe transition

r :


t :

Wall thickness

t 0 :

Reference wall thickness

T 27 J :

Temperature at a Charpy-V-notch energy of 27 J

T Ed :

Lowest allowable service temperature

T md :

Basic design temperature in NZ standards


General correction function for K

γ ov :

Overstrength factor

ΔT :

Temperature difference

ΔT R :

Safety margin in terms of service temperature

ΔT έ :

Temperature difference due to strain rate

ΔT ε, cf :

Temperature difference due to strain from cold forming

Δσ :

Stress range

ε :


έ :

Strain rate

έ 0 :

Reference strain rate

ε cf :

Strain from cold forming

σ :


σ (s,d) :

design value of stress action


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We express our appreciation to Alistair Fussell for his comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. We also thank our colleagues, Dr Stephen Hicks, Patrick Schneider and Dr Brian Uy who provided expertise that assisted the earlier publication [1].


This research was supported by the HERA Foundation, Antarctica New Zealand and Eastbridge Ltd.

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Correspondence to Adolf F. Hobbacher.

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Recommended for publication by Commission X - Structural Performances of Welded Joints - Fracture Avoidance

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Hobbacher, A.F., Karpenko, M. Provisions for avoiding brittle fracture in steels used in Australasia including effects of seismic action. Weld World 66, 1229–1250 (2022).

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