Date of Award

December 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Rani El-Hajjar

Committee Members

Adeeb Rahman, Jian Zhao


Fracture Mechanics, H-Method, P-Method, Stress Intensity Factor, Three-Dimensional, Through-Thickness


The stress intensity factor is used in fracture mechanics to characterize the stress state near the crack tip in a structure under remotely applied loads. The magnitude of the stress intensity factor is dependent on geometry, the size and location of the crack, and the magnitude and distribution of loads on the structure. The scope of this thesis is the study of the through-thickness stress intensity factor using two different FE approaches. P- and h-element finite element methods are used to study the stress intensity factors. The accuracy of the predicted Mode I stress-intensify factor (KI) is assessed using closed-form and planar analysis approaches. The research also contains studies on how plate thickness, element formulations, and materials affect KI) , as well as possible relationships between the through-thickness KI) and KC) , the critical stress intensity factor.