Crack detection and characterization techniques - An overview

Yao Yao, Shue Ting Ellen Tung, Branko Glisic

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

193 Scopus citations


SUMMARY Crack occurrence and propagation are among critical factors that affect the performance and lifespan of civil infrastructures such as bridges, pipelines, and so on. As a consequence, numerous crack detection and characterization techniques have been researched and developed in the past decades in the areas of SHM and non-destructive evaluation (NDE). The significant amount of performed studies and the large number of publications give rise to the need to systematize, condensate, and summarize this enormous effort. The aims of this paper are to summarize the knowledge about cracking and its sources, review both existing and emerging methods for crack detection and characterization, and identify the advantages and challenges for these methods. In general, this paper identifies two sensing approaches (direct and indirect) and two data analysis approaches (model-based and model-free or data-driven) along with a range of associated technologies. The advantages and challenges of each approach and technology are discussed and summarized, and the future research needs are identified. This paper is intended to serve as a reference for researchers who are interested in crack detection and characterization as well as for those who are generally interested in SHM and NDE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1387-1413
Number of pages27
JournalStructural Control and Health Monitoring
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanics of Materials


  • crack detection and characterization
  • crack typology
  • direct sensing
  • model-based and model-free data analysis
  • non-destructive evaluation
  • structural health monitoring


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