Category: Dams and Earthquakes

Three Gorges Dam Project, Yangtze River, China

(2008) Large reservoirs can cause seismic events as they fill and as the pressure on local faults increases. Such reservoir-induced seismicity was predicted for the Three Gorges region, which is already seismically active and indeed, there has been an increase in reported seismic activity in the region following construction of the dam and the filling of the reservoir.

China Earthquake a Dam-Induced Disaster?

(February 4, 2009) Last year’s devastating Sichuan earthquake, which took at least 69,000 lives, may have been unleashed by the huge Zipingpu Dam. New scientific evidence links the impoundment of the Zipingpu reservoir to the activation of a fault line near the dam site. A thorough scientific assessment is needed before China builds more dams in earthquake-prone areas.

Scientists build case that Zipingpu dam triggered China’s devastating earthquake

(January 28, 2009) Since China’s deadly May 12 earthquake, Fan Xiao, China’s chief engineer of the Regional Geology Investigation Team of the Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau, has been a lone voice calling for an investigation into the possibility that the Zipingpu dam reservoir, just a few kilometers from the epicenter, might have induced the earthquake.

Columbia geophysical hazards scientist says evidence shows dam reservoir likely triggered China’s great quake of 2008

(January 26, 2009) Christian Klose, a geophysical hazards research scientist from Columbia University in New York, says geophysical data suggests that the Zipingpu dam reservoir — just a few kilometers from the epicenter of China’s great quake of 2008 — likely triggered the deadly quake and explains how it happened.

Water brief: Three Gorges Dam

(January 1, 2009) In The World’s Water 2008-2009, the Pacific Institute’s Dr. Gleick examines the usual anticipated benefits of the Three Gorges Dam: power, navigation and flood control and the growing list of problems — serious impacts on fisheries, coastal erosion due to vastly lower sediment flow in the Yangtze, landslides, earthquakes and social unrest due to the displacement of millions of people.

China quakes, but the dams don’t break

(December 28, 2008) The biggest potential disaster, Pearce reports, was averted at the Zipingpu dam, just 17 kilometres from the quake’s epicenter. “Holding back more than a cubic kilometer of water … the hydroelectric dam was the largest of a new, cheap design with a rock core and concrete face. As the tight valley sides juddered, the structure was squeezed and ended up 18 centimeters downstream, and 70 cm lower. … The concrete was ripped apart but the core of the dam survived.”