The seismic design review guide in Japan was revised in September 2006 to address the occurrence of a large earthquake beyond the design basis. In addition, Japanese nuclear power plants (NPPs) experienced multiple large earthquakes, such as Niigata-ken Chuetsu-Oki Earthquake in 2007 and the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. Therefore, it is very important to assess the structural integrity of reactor piping under such a large earthquake when a crack exists in the piping. In this work, crack growth behavior after excessive loading during the large-scale earthquake were experimentally and analytically evaluated for carbon steel and austenitic stainless steel. Some cyclic loading patterns with increasing and decreasing load amplitudes and maximum loads were applied to fatigue crack growth test specimens. From the results, the retardation of crack growth rate was clearly observed after excessive loading. In addition, the applicability to the retardation effect of the modified Wheeler model was confirmed. It is also concluded that the retardation effect has little influence on the failure probability due to seismic loading using probabilistic fracture mechanics (PFM) analyses with the modified Wheeler model.

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