A novel testing setup has been used in this study to simulate crack initiation in X65 pipeline steel exposed to near-neutral pH soil environment. This test setup was designed to simulate synergistic interactions of cathodic current with soil environments underneath the disbonded coating on the pipe surface. It was found from the simulations that the local environment underneath the disbonded coating can be very acidic or alkaline, instead of near-neutral pH as commonly believed, depending on seasonal fluctuation in CO2 level and cathodic current. There exists a wide range of corrosion conditions on the steel surface up the gradient of cathodic current underneath the disbonded coating. General corrosion was found to increase as CP current diminishes. Pitting corrosion in terms of number of pits and size of pits was found to be the most severe at locations where cathodic protection was nearly diminished. These locations had also developed some crack like-defects, which were usually elongated in a direction perpendicular to the loading axis and appeared to be formed from a linkage of neighboring pits and by enhanced corrosion at stress raisers.

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