This work provides a numerical and experimental investigation of fatigue crack growth behavior in steel weldments including crack closure effects and their coupled interaction with weld strength mismatch. A central objective of this study is to extend previously developed frameworks for evaluation of crack closure effects on fatigue crack growth rates (FCGR) to steel weldments while, at the same time, gaining additional understanding of commonly adopted criteria for crack closure loads. Very detailed non-linear finite element analyses using 3-D models of compact tension C(T) fracture specimens with square groove, weld centerline cracked welds provide the evolution of crack growth with cyclic stress intensity factor which is required for the estimation of the closure loads. Fatigue crack growth tests conducted on plane-sided, shallow-cracked C(T) specimens provide the necessary data against which crack closure effects on fatigue crack growth behavior can be assessed. Overall, the present investigation provides additional support for estimation procedures of plasticity-induced crack closure loads in fatigue analyses of structural steels and their weldments.

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