In the wake of the 6.5-magnitude earthquake in China’s Yunnan Province on August 3 that claimed the lives of more than 600 people, Chinese geologist Fan Xiao has released new data that supports a link between that event and the region’s mega-dams.
If the findings of Chinese geologist and environmentalist Fan Xiao – and the author of several reports for Probe International – are accurate, they raise a serious question. This report by Quartz, a business news site from Atlantic Media, looks at some recent quakes in China linked to the filling of hydro-dam reservoirs.
The 6.5-magnitude earthquake that devastated southwestern China’s Yunnan Province on August 3 and killed nearly 600 is linked to the world’s largest and most intensive dam-building scheme on the Jinsha River, says renowned, independent geologist-explorer, Yang Yong.
“Why do earthquakes keep happening in that area?” In the wake of China’s 6.1 magnitude quake in Yunnan Province and a number of smaller quakes in the region, questions are once again being asked about the country’s rush to build big dams in its southwestern mountains, an area already vulnerable to seismic hazard.
(May 28, 2014) Another earthquake has struck the Three Gorges Dam reservoir region in central China’s Zigui County. No casualties have been reported so far and officials say the dam is operating normally. The 3.4 magnitude tremor which hit early Monday morning, some 23 km from the dam, follows two earthquakes of magnitude above 4.0 and hundreds of aftershocks which shook the same region in late March of this year. The events rank as significant according to Chinese geologist and environmentalist Fan Xiao, who says they are signals that the seismic threat posed by Three Gorges Dam is at its most critical stage now.
(April 21, 2014) China’s roving corruption crackdown has uncovered nepotism, shady property deals and dodgy bidding procedures at the country’s state-owned Three Gorges Dam operator, Three Gorges Corporation. The news has reignited public anger over a project funded by a special levy paid for by Chinese citizens and has sparked speculation that President Xi Jinping is using Three Gorges as a way to target two of China’s biggest “tigers”.
(April 9, 2014) Another earthquake has struck China’s seismically hazardous southwestern region in the same vicinity as one of the country’s mega-dams. Chinese geologist and environmentalist Fan Xiao says there is a “high probability” the Xiluodu dam, China’s second and the world’s third biggest hydropower power plant, triggered the quake.
(April 7, 2014) Chinese geologist and environmentalist Fan Xiao says the recent quakes that struck central China’s Hubei Province in Zigui county — “the first county of the Three Gorges Dam” due to its proximity to the project site — signal that the seismic threat posed by Three Gorges Dam is at its most critical stage now. Reservoir-induced seismicity (RIS) is most likely to occur within a few years, even a decade after initial filling of a dam reservoir to its highest level, due to the time it takes for reservoir water to penetrate deep into seismic faults and fissures before it triggers seismic activity. A 2010 study revealed seismic monitors around the Three Gorges Dam reservoir and in Hubei Province registered 3,429 earthquakes between June of 2003 (when inundation of the reservoir began) and December 31, 2009: a 30-fold increase in seismic frequency over the pre-dam period.
(April 1, 2014) A magnitude-4.7 earthquake hit Zigui county in central China’s Hubei Province last Sunday, around 23 kilometres from the Three Gorges Dam site location, several days after a magnitude-4.3 tremor was felt early Thursday morning about 30 kilometres from the dam. Authorities say the dam was not affected but they are monitoring the situation. There have been no reports of casualties or property damage, although news coverage has noted an increase in Chinese experts who support the speculation that the project itself is the cause of local seismic activity.
(March 28, 2014) Once again, an earthquake has hit the Three Gorges reservoir area and dam officials are reassuring the public that the world’s largest hydropower plant is operating normally. The epicenter of a 4.3-magnitude earthquake struck Zigui County, just 30 km from the Three Gorges Dam at 12:20 a.m. March 27, 2014. Stay tuned while Probe International investigates the cause and effect of this latest tremor.
(February 3, 2014) Chinese geologist Fan Xiao investigates once again if the impoundment of a large dam reservoir triggered a series of earthquakes in the seismically active southwest region of China? Based on data collected by China Seismic Information (CSI), Mr. Fan says, ‘Yes’. Not only were the November 22, 2013, seismic events recorded in Sichuan, China not naturally occurring or isolated incidents, he says the region should prepare for stronger, “even destructive earthquakes” as a result of further impoundment.
(December 20, 2013) High-profile Chinese geologist Fan Xiao — and the author of several reports for Probe International — notes with interest the rush by China’s state media, and the country’s official seismological agency, to dismiss a link between the 5.1-magnitude Badong County earthquake on Monday and the Three Gorges Dam reservoir. A dismissal that runs contrary to common sense and the basic facts of seismic analysis, says Mr. Fan, who believes reservoir-induced-seismicity (RIS), triggered by impoundment of the massive dam, was likely behind the recent quake and could induce stronger earthquakes in the region.
(December 16, 2013) A 5.1-magnitude earthquake struck a mountainous and populous area of China’s Hubei Province today, 100 kilometres from the Three Gorges Dam site. Officials have been quick to reassure the public that the dam has remained intact and is operating normally after the event, which occurred at 1:04 p.m. in Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Badong County. Aftershocks and quake-triggered landslides are expected. What more could there be to this story?
(November 12, 2013) China’s current fever for hydro development is such that even its unparalleled Three Gorges mega-dam now ranks as a mere fraction of its long-term dam agenda, reports Charles Lewis for Yale Environment 360. While China’s need for energy is undisputed, its emphasis on dam construction risks an irreversible legacy of damage the country may never recover from and flies in the face of its present Five Year Plan to develop clean energy, reduce pollution, and protect the environment, says Lewis. Echoing Probe International’s coverage of the innumerable threats posed by construction on such an unprecedented scale, Lewis presents here a valuable and succinct overview of the dangers China’s dam fever represents to its waterways, ecosystems, agriculture and fisheries, traditional livelihoods, species survival and even to its geological stability, as Probe International’s alarming 2012 findings revealed.
(September 10, 2013) On the dreadful night of June 4, 1989, when the students in Tiananmen Square were mowed down by the People’s Liberation Army, the path to another tragedy, the damming of the Yangtze, was laid, says Dai Qing, China’s most famous environmentalist and longtime advocate of freedom of speech.