Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)

Degree Level



Civil Engineering


William M. Hale

Committee Member

Ernest Heymsfield

Second Committee Member

Kirk Grimmelsman


Applied sciences; Concrete cracking; Internal curing; Lightweight aggregates; Shrinkage


As the need for durable, long lasting infrastructure increases, new methods and techniques are being explored to prolong the service life of roads and bridges. One method to reduce shrinkage and early age cracking in concrete is internal curing. Internal curing supplies water to concrete, using pre-wetted lightweight aggregate (LWA), as needed throughout the process of hydration to reduce self desiccation, which leads to cracking. This research project analyzed two types of coarse LWA, expanded clay and expanded shale. The mixtures were developed specifically for use in bridge decks and adhered to specifications of the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD). The concrete mixtures contained LWA at rates of 0, 100, 200, and 300 lb/yd3. The research was divided into two phases. The first phase measured autogenous and drying shrinkage in both plastic and elastic states using embedded vibrating wire strain gages (VWSG) cast in concrete prisms. The expanded clay LWA mixtures, with the 300 lb. replacement rate yielding the best results, were most effective in reducing shrinkage. Compressive strength decreased as the amount of LWA included in the mixture increased. However, all mixtures surpassed the 28 day compressive strength specified by AHTD. The second phase of the research project measured plastic shrinkage cracking in thin concrete test slabs. Methods and materials were investigated to produce consistent plastic shrinkage surface cracks of the concrete slabs. The extent of plastic shrinkage that occurred was quantified by measuring the total crack area of the test slabs. Implementation of 300 lb. of expanded clay LWA did not reduce the crack lengths, but did reduce the average crack widths experienced by the test slabs due to plastic shrinkage.