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Report on the Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Mitigation of Alkali-Silica Reaction (ASR) in Transportation Structures

Appendix D - Diagnosis of Alkali-Silica Reaction (ASR)

D.1 Deformation Measurements

In-situ deformation measurements can be easily performed by installing demec points (Figure D1-E) and/or metallic references/devices at the surface of the concrete members showing visual distress indicative of possible AAR.

D.1.1 Selection of members

Ideally, demec points should be installed on the same (or a selection of the same) members that have been chosen for crack mapping, i.e., members showing a range of deterioration but always exposed to moisture. Ideally, the demec points will be installed at the end of the crack-mapping reference grid used for CI measurements (Figure D1-A). This will optimize the information generated on the same testing area and will allow for two transverse and two longitudinal length-change measurements.

Holes are dry-drilled into the concrete (Figure D1-B and D1-C) of a sufficient size for the gage stud to be introduced in the hole with the rapid-hardening cement paste or epoxy glue (Figure D1-D). Stainless steel bolt, approximately 5-7 mm (0.2-0.3 in) diameter by approximately 15-20 mm (0.6-0.8 in)-long, with a machined "demec point" at the end were found appropriate for that purpose. The surface of the stud should be flush with, or slightly inside the surface of the concrete member.

D.1.2 Length-change measurements

About 12 to 24 hours after setting of the studs, initial length measurements will be taken. The weather conditions (especially temperature, whether the concrete element is directly exposed to sun/rain or not, etc.) will be noted. Similarly to the CI measurements, and because of the significant effect of temperature and humidity on dimensional changes in concrete, expansion readings should be carried out a minimum of twice a year, ideally three times for the first year, and repeated under very similar conditions of sun exposure, outdoor temperature, and humidity conditions (see Appendix B for more details) (Figure D2-A to D2-F).

Figure D1. (A). Reference grid for measurement of the Cracking Index (CI). Holes are drilled at each corner of the grid in order to allow length-change measurements along the two main directions of the grid. (B and C). Holes are dry-drilled in the structural member for the set-up of the gage studs. (D). The gage stud is lined with rapid-hardening cement paste or epoxy glue before installing it in the hole on the reference grid. (E). Various types of accessories serving as demec points to be fixed or drilled into the concrete member (picture from Mayes Group website).

A
shows a concrete surface with extensive map cracking. A square divided into 4 equal triangles is superimposed on the image, and the corners labelled as follows: Beginning at the bottom left hand corner and continuing clockwise around the square O, A, B, C

B
shows a worker drilling holes onto the side of a jersey barrier for setting gauge studs.

C
shows a worker drilling a hole into a concrete pavement using a drill

D
shows the hand of a worker with a steel gage pin coated in a white epoxy

E
shows a rectangular metal bar with two sharp pins at both ends that are used for placing demec points on various surfaces. Small, round demec points and various pins can be seen next to the reference bar.

Figure D2. Series of Photos. (A). Length-change measurements in a concrete pavement affected by ASR. (B). Length-change measurements in a concrete highway barrier wall affected by ASR. (C to F).


show workers taking crack index measurements using a DEMEC strain gauge on pavement


show workers taking crack index measurements using a DEMEC strain gauge on a Jersey barrier


show workers taking crack index measurements using a DEMEC strain gauge on a square column


show workers taking crack index measurements using a DEMEC strain gauge on a cylindrical column [longitudinal measurement]


a worker taking diameter measurements of cylindrical columns using a digital outside micrometer


a worker taking diameter measurements of cylindrical columns using a digital outside micrometer

D.1.3 Other types of deformation measurements

Periodic length-change measurements can also then be taken using extensometers of various shapes and ranges, invar wires/rods or optical systems (leveling) (Figure D3-A to D3-F)). Fiber-optic and vibrating wire systems can also be used, with deformation measurements being performed and the data transmitted automatically to central servers for further treatment.

Evidence of stress build-up in reinforcing steel and the surrounding concrete resulting from restrained AAR expansion can be obtained from the measurements of stress in reinforcing bars (Figure D4-A and D4-B) and the overcoring technique (Danay et al. 1993) (see Section 5.2.4).

D.2 Temperature and Humidity Measurements

It is highly recommended that relative humidity and temperature readings be made in a selected member of the structure in order to make any necessary corrections to the expansion measurements performed as part of the monitoring program. Such readings can be made periodically using portable probes (Figure D4-C), or automatically using in-situ set-ups (Figure D4-D). The above probes usually generate temperature readings that can be used to make any corrections required for temperature variations. The values could also be used in the process of evaluating the potential for future expansion of the concrete (see Appendix I).

D.3 Full-Scale Loading Testing

In the case of reinforced concrete bridges where the visual survey and the in-situ measurements indicate a severe level of deterioration (severe cracking in structural members), it will likely be necessary to determine whether or not the stability of the structure is at risk. This should be carried out through a full-scale investigation performed by a competent structural engineer. Full-scale loading tests in the field will ultimately permit assessment of the real structural loss in performance (or serviceability) of the affected structure (Figure D4-E and D4-F).

Figure D3. (A and B). Devices used for the in-situ monitoring of deformation/movement associated with cracks (Thompson et al. 1995). (C and D). Invar-bar expansion set-up used for the in-situ monitoring of deformation/movement associated with AAR (Gaudreault 2000). (E and F). (E). Equipment ("infrared distancemetre") used for long-distance in-situ expansion monitoring in the highway bridge structure illustrated in (F) (LCPC 1999); the infrared source is on the right and the target on the left. Both are fixed on the abutment wall section of the bridge structure to ensure accurate readings.

Photo A shows two square shaped pieces of material, with a red square pinned to the top of each square. A large metal rod is connecting both square pieces. Photo B shows a close up image of a metal plate bolted to the surface of a concrete member. A blue pen can be seen near the plate for reference. Photo C shows a metal rectangular plate affixed to the surface of a concrete structure. A large metal rod is attached to the rectangular plate. Photo D shows two metal plates with white handles affixed to the surface of a concrete structure. A large metal rod can be seen placed across both plates. Photo E shows two workers holding a piece of equipment a few feet apart. One worker is holding a grey plastic plate with wires and a gage, while the second worker holds a laser enclosed in black plastic. Photo F shows three workers inspecting the underside of a deteriorated bridge as well as the abutment of the structure.

Figure D4. (A). Photograph of the western haunch of a bridge structure showing damage due to ASR. The hole in the middle of the member was cut to expose reinforcement for strain gauging (Blight and Ballim 2000). (B). Strain gages mounted on the second reinforcing bar from the right. (C). In-situ measurement of relative humidity, using a portable probe, in a concrete column affected by ASR. (D). Set-up for the automatic in-situ monitoring of temperature, humidity and expansion (vibrating wire) in a bridge deck affected by ASR (Siemes and Gulikers 2000). (C).. (E). Arrangement of trucks during a full-scale loading test performed on a motorway portal structure affected by ASR in South Africa (structure in C) (Blight et al. 1983). (F). During the full-scale loading test illustrated in (E), displacement was measured at several points of the beam by means of gages bedded on the lower deck of the portal. (Pictures C to F: courtesy of G.E. Blight, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa)

A
is a black and white image that shows a concrete bridge component with a hole cut to expose steel reinforcement bars

B
a black and white image that shows exposed reinforcement in a concrete structure. Strain gauges are attached to one of 5 exposed bars.

C
shows a worker standing next to a cracked concrete column holding a reading device in his hand, which is connected to a wire inserted in the concrete

D
an image of the underside of a bride with several people standing under it. Two data boxes are located near the underside of the bridge, and is the set-up for the automatic in-situ monitoring of temperature, humidity and expansion (vibrating wire) in a bridge deck. Various attachments are visible on the underneath side of the deck

E
shows the arrangement of trucks during a full-scale loading test performed on a motorway portal structure affected by ASR. Fully loaded heavy trucks are filling 2 lanes of a bridge in a night time scene

F
shows a close-up of a strain gauge bedded to bridge deck.

D4. References

Blight, G.E., and Ballim, Y., "Properties of AAR-Affected Concrete Studied Over 20 Years," Proceedings of the 11thInternational Conference on Alkali-Aggregate Reaction in Concrete, Quebec City, Canada, Editors: M.A. Bérubé, B. Fournier and B. Durand, pp. 1109-1118, 2000.

Blight, G.E., Alexander, M.G., Schutte, W.K., and Ralph, T.K.. "The Effect of Alkali-aggregate Reaction on the Strength and Deformation of a Reinforced Concrete Structure," Proceedings of the 6thInternational Conference on Alkalis in Concrete, Copenhagen (Denmark), pp. 401-410, 1983.

Danay, A., Adeghe, L., and Hindy, A., "Diagnosis of the Cause of the Progressive Concrete Deformations at Saunders Dam," Concrete International, pp. 25-33, September 1993.

Gaudreault, M., "The St. Lawrence Seaway (Quebec, Canada): A Case Study in the Management of Structures Affected by Alkali-Aggregate Reaction," Proceedings of the 11thInternational Conference on Alkali-Aggregate Reaction in Concrete, Quebec City, Canada, Editors: M.A. Bérubé, B. Fournier and B. Durand, pp. 1293-1302, 2000.

Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chaussées (LCPC), "Manuel d'identification des réactions de dégradation interne du béton dans les ouvrages d'art. Laboratoire des Ponts et Chaussées," Ministère de l'équipement, des transports et du logement, 58 bd Lefebvre F75732 Paris cedex 15, 1999.

Siemes, T., and Gulikers, J., "Monitoring of Reinforced Concrete Structures Affected by Alkali-Silica Reaction. Reaction," Proceedings of the 11thInternational Conference on Alkali-Aggregate Reaction in Concrete, Quebec City, Canada, Editors: M.A. Bérubé, B. Fournier and B. Durand, pp. 1205-1214, 2000.

Thompson, G.A., Charlwood, R.G., Steele, R.R., and Coulson, D.M., "Rehabilitation Program - Mactaquac Generating Station, NB," Proceedings of the CANMET/ACI International Workshop on Alkali-Aggregate Reactions in Concrete, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, pp. 355-368, October 1 to 4, 1995.

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Updated: 06/14/2012