The question of the domain of dominance of mode I asymptotic elastodynamic crack-tip fields is investigated experimentally for the cases of dynamically loaded stationary cracks as well as dynamically propagating cracks. The experiments reported are on three-point bend specimens loaded dynamically using a drop-weight tower. An optical configuration leading to a bifocal high-speed camera is proposed. This is used in conjunction with the method of caustics to obtain apparent dynamic stress intensity factor measurements simultaneously from two different regions around the crack tip. The results of this study indicate that three-dimensional and transient effects necessarily have to be taken into account in the interpretation of dynamic fracture experiments.

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