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Stress corrosion is the crystalline cracking of metals under tensile stresses in the presence of corrosive agents. The conditions for stress corrosion to occur are that the steel is subjected to tensile stresses arising from external loading or internally induced stress (e.g. prestressing).
Moreover, the presence of corrosive agents is essential to trigger stress corrosion. One of the main features of stress corrosion is that the material fractures without any damage observed from the outside. Hence, stress corrosion occurs without any obvious warning signs.