|Abstract:||In-situ asphalt mixture density is critically important to the performance of flexible airport
pavements: density that is too high, or too low, may cause early pavement distresses.
Traditionally, two methods have been commonly used for in-situ asphalt mixture density
measurement: laboratory testing on field-extracted cores and in-situ nuclear gauge testing.
However, both these methods have limitations. The coring method damages pavement, causes
traffic interruption, and provides only limited data at discrete locations. The nuclear gauge
method also provides limited data measurement. Moreover, it requires a license for the
operators because it uses radioactive material. To overcome the limitations of these traditional
methods, this study proposes to develop a nondestructive method of using ground penetrating
radar (GPR) to measure in-situ asphalt mixture density accurately, continuously, and rapidly.
The prediction of asphalt mixture density using GPR is based on the fact that the
dielectric constant of an asphalt mixture, which can be measured by GPR, is dependent on the
dielectric and volumetric properties of its components. According to electromagnetic (EM) mixing
theory, two candidate specific gravity models, namely the modified complex refractive index
model (CRIM) and the modified Bottcher model, were developed to predict the bulk specific
gravity of asphalt mixture from its dielectric constant.
To evaluate the performance of these two models, a full-scale six-lane test site with four
sections in each lane was carefully designed and constructed. Forty cores were extracted from
the test site, and their densities were measured in the laboratory and compared to the GPRpredicted
values using the two models. Both models were found effective in predicting asphalt
mixture density, although the modified Bottcher model performed better. To account for the
effect of the non-spherical inclusions in asphalt mixture and further improve the density
prediction accuracy, a shape factor was introduced into the modified Bottcher model. Nonlinear
least square curve fitting of the field core data indicated that a shape factor of -0.3 provided the
best-performance model, which is referred to as the Al-Qadi Lahouar Leng (ALL) model.
The performance of the ALL model was validated using data collected from an active
pavement construction site in Chicago area. It was found that when the ALL model was
employed, the prediction accuracy of the GPR was comparable to, or better than, that of the
traditional nuclear gauge. For the asphalt mixtures without slags, the average density prediction
errors of GPR were between 0.5% and 1.1% with two calibration cores, while those of the
nuclear gauge were between 1.2% and 3.1%.
Due to the importance of accurate input of the dielectric constant of asphalt mixture to
the prediction accuracy of the specific gravity model, this study also looked into alternative
methods for asphalt mixture dielectric constant estimation. The extended common mid-point
(XCMP) method using two air-coupled antenna systems was developed, and its implementation
feasibility was explored. The XCMP method was found to provide better performance than the
traditional surface-reflection method for thick pavement structures with multi-lifts. However, for
thin pavement layers (less than 63 mm thick), the accuracy of this method could be improved.
Factors accounting for the accuracy reduction for a thin surface layer include the sampling rate
limitation of the GPR systems, as well as the possible overlap of the GPR signal reflections at
the surface and bottom of the thin asphalt layer.