Determination of Depth of Surface Cracks in Asphalt Pavements

Shane Underwood, Y. Richard Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Nondestructive measurement of crack depths of asphalt pavements in situ could be a valuable tool for engineers in rehabilitation planning. Such measurements currently must be made by first coring or trenching a pavement and then measuring the crack by hand. Two methods for performing this task nondestructively are presented. The two methods, surface wave and ultrasonic, use the slowing effect that a crack has on a wave. Two signal-processing techniques were used to analyze the surface wave method - the fast Fourier transform (FFT) and the short kernel method (SKM). The FFT method provided a frequency spectrum that was used to find the energy carried by specific frequencies. The percent energy reduction (PER) was computed and plotted at each crack depth; this plot revealed that PER values increase as crack depth increases. The SKM method showed the wave velocity to decrease as the crack depth increased. By comparing the wave velocity of the cracked pavement with that of the undamaged pavement, a phase velocity ratio plot was developed and was shown to be adequate for predicting crack depth. Ultrasonic testing proved to be a simpler and more direct method than surface wave testing. It was not necessary to know the wave properties of an undamaged pavement with this method, and a quantitative prediction of crack depth was obtained. While encouraging results were observed with both methods, ultrasonic testing showed the most promise for application because of the commercial availability of ultrasonic meters and the direct prediction of crack depth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-149
Number of pages7
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number1853
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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