The relief waves created by the dynamic fracture of a brittle beam were determined. An experiment was conducted on an effectively infinite beam loaded over a finite area with sheet explosive. The time sequence of deformation and fracture was determined by terminal observation, high-speed framing camera photographs, and strain gages. Beam response was also predicted analytically by numerically integrating the characteristic equations of Timoshenko beam theory. Comparison of calculated and measured strains showed that the effect of an initial fracture in a beam at a location of pure bending can be approximated by a two-stage process that specifies how the bending moment at the fracture point is reduced to zero after fracture. In the first stage, the crack propagates to the neutral axis, and the stress distribution remains unchanged. In the second stage, the crack propagates through the remainder of the beam thickness while the stress continuously redistributes itself.

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