Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

John B. Metcalf


The response of the rigid pavement slab-joint-base structural system is complex, and accurately predicting the response of such a system requires a significant degree of analytical sophistication. The research reported in this dissertation has defined some essential features required to adequately model the system and has demonstrated a technique to develop a comprehensive three-dimensional (3D) finite element model of the rigid pavement slab-joint-foundation structural system. Analysis of experimental data from the 1950s confirms that explicit modeling of dowels is not required to model the structural response of the system. Additional experimental data gathered as a part of this research indicates that joint response depends upon the presence and condition of a stabilized base. The presence of cracking in the base and the degree of bonding between the slabs and stabilized base course influences the structural capacity and load transfer capability of the rigid pavement structure. The finite element models developed in this research indicate that a comprehensive 3D finite element modeling technique provides a rational approach to modeling the structural response of the jointed rigid airport pavement system. Modeling features which are required include explicit 3D modeling of the slab continua, load transfer capability at the joint (modeled by springs between the slabs), explicit 3D modeling of the base course continua, aggregate interlock capability across the cracks in the base course (again, modeled by springs across the crack), and contact interaction between the slabs and base course. The contact interaction model feature should allow gaps to open between the slab and base, and, where the slabs and base are in contact, transfer of shear stresses across the interface via friction should be modeled.