AbstractThis study investigated the time-dependent crack propagation of the rock–concrete interface under sustained loading. First, sustained loading tests were performed on the composite rock–concrete beams under three-point bending with respect to three interface roughness degrees, i.e., natural, 4×4, and 7×7 interfaces, and three sustained load levels, i.e., 80% of the maximum load, the initial cracking load, and 97% of the maximum load. Then, by employing the Norton-Bailey model and the time-dependent fictitious crack model, the constitutive relationships of bilateral materials and the rock–concrete interface were established and the mechanical responses of the rock–concrete interface under sustained loading were simulated. In addition, a crack propagation criterion proposed in this study was applied in the numerical procedure to simulate the time-dependent crack propagation process under sustained loading. The criterion implied that the interface crack propagated when the difference between the average elastic strain energy densities near the crack tip caused by the external load and cohesive stress exceeded that at the initial fracture status under quasi-static loading. The results indicated that the crack propagation under sustained loading could be interpreted from the view of energy balance between the driving energy from the external load and the resistance energy from the cohesive stress. The time-dependent crack propagation under sustained loading experienced three stages, i.e., decelerated propagation, uniform propagation, and accelerated propagation. A linear relationship between the logarithms of the crack mouth opening rate in the uniform propagation period and the failure time was established to predict the failure time of the rock–concrete interface under sustained loading.