Category: Dams and Earthquakes

Effect of the Zipingpu reservoir impoundment on the occurrence of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake and local seismicity

(October 2010) The occurrence of the 2008 May 12 Wenchuan earthquake (M 7.9) near the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau triggered a debate whether it was influenced by the newly impounded Zipingpu reservoir, located only about 21 km east of the earthquake epicentre.


Evidence for surface loading as trigger mechanism of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake

(July 14, 2010) Abstract: Two and a half years prior to China’s M7.9 Wenchuan earthquake of May 2008, at least 300 million metric tons of water accumulated with additional seasonal water level changes in the Minjiang River Valley at the eastern margin of the Longmen Shan. This article shows that static surface loading in the valley induced Coulomb failure stresses on the nearby Beichuan thrust fault system at <17km depth.

Huang Wanli’s predictions for the Three Gorges come to pass

(June 12, 2010) Huang Wanli, renowned hydraulics engineer and Tsinghua University lecturer, first voiced his opposition to the large-scale damming of rivers by opposing the construction of the Sanmenxia dam in 1957. In the 1980s he became a vocal opponent of the Three Gorges project and contributed to Yangtze! Yangtze!, the important critique of the dam compiled by China’s celebrated investigative journalist, Dai Qing. Now, as the Three Gorges dam is beset by monumental operational problems, Huang Wanli’s prescient analysis helps explain why it was a mistake to build the biggest dam in the world. Read his 1993 interview with Dai Qing.