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A steel splice plate in a power transmission line tower cracked while in service. Metallographic analysis indicated the presence of a white hard martensite layer near the crack, which occurred in the heel of the plate. Mechanical property tests revealed localized hardening in the area of the crack, supporting the metallurgical findings. A substantial deterioration of the Charpy impact toughness of the material in the heel region was also observed which is believed to have caused the initiation and propagation of the cracks leading to the failure.

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