Mesh adaptivity for quasi-static phase-field fractures based on a residual-type a posteriori error estimator

Katrin Mang, Mirjam Walloth, Thomas Wick, Winnifried Wollner

In this work, we consider adaptive mesh refinement for a monolithic phase-field description for fractures in brittle materials. Our approach is based on an a posteriori error estimator for the phase-field variational inequality realizing the fracture irreversibility constraint. The key goal is the development of a reliable and efficient residual-type error estimator for the phase-field fracture model in each time-step. Based on this error estimator, error indicators for local mesh adaptivity are extracted. The proposed estimator is based on a technique known for singularly perturbed equations in combination with estimators for variational inequalities. These theoretical developments are used to formulate an adaptive mesh refinement algorithm. For the numerical solution, the fracture irreversibility is imposed using a Lagrange multiplier. The resulting saddle-point system has three unknowns: displacements, phase-field, and a Lagrange multiplier for the crack irreversibility. Several numerical experiments demonstrate our theoretical findings with the newly developed estimators and the corresponding refinement strategy.

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