Concrete Maturity History

Maturity concepts have been around for over 50 years.

In the 1970s, a string of fatal construction disasters motivated engineers and researchers to refine the technique for routine construction.

In the spring of 1973, a multi-story apartment building collapsed during construction in Fairfax County, Virginia due to weak concrete. The project’s construction team had waited a full four days for the concrete to cure, then removed forms—but the concrete hadn’t yet gained sufficient strength and the building collapsed. The incident claimed 14 lives and injured 34 others.

Five years later, 51 workers were killed when a cooling tower crashed to the ground while under construction in Willow Island, WV. Again, the structure failed because the concrete had not gained sufficient strength to support the loads.

At the time, a reliable method allowing construction teams to estimate the in-place strength of concrete was not readily available.

Researchers noticed that these structural failures were more likely when the concrete on the job site had cured at much lower temperatures (7-10°C or 45-50°F) than those at which the laboratory specimens were cured.

Researchers found that the maturity method can account for the temperature differences between the laboratory specimens and in-place concrete structures. The maturity method tracks concrete age and temperature—this is key because the age and temperature history of concrete correlates to strength development during curing. In addition, early-age temperatures affect the final strength and performance of concrete structures. Implementing the maturity method helps construction teams know when their concrete has reached adequate strength, sequence construction operations, and build concrete products safely and cost-efficiently.

In 1987, ASTM C 1074 was the first specification to apply the maturity method. Construction teams now have an approved procedure for reliably estimating in-place concrete strength.

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