Tactile sensor data collected during the Japan Ocean Industries Association (JOIA) medium-scale field indentation test program provide detailed information about spatial and temporal distributions of contact pressures during ice crushing. The localization of contact into high pressure zones (hpzs) through which the majority of loads are transmitted to the structure is an important feature of these data. For all but the slowest interaction rates, non-simultaneous failure is observed, with linear distributions of hpzs comprising a total contact area on the order of 10% of the nominal interaction area (structure width × ice thickness). To improve understanding of the nature of individual hpzs during compressive ice failure, a new approach to analyzing tactile sensor data has been developed. Analysis algorithms developed for automatic hpz detection and tracking are discussed. Issues associated with pressure threshold value definition and selection are considered. Probabilistic descriptions of high pressure zone attributes based on analysis of JOIA field measurements are presented. The development of a probabilistic ice load model based on these hpz data is detailed in a companion paper.

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