Category: Dams and Earthquakes

Beijing social think-tank shut down amid crackdown

(July 20, 2013) On the heels of anti-graft campaigner Xu Zhiyong’s detention, authorities continue to get tough on rights activists as they endure another wallop of repression, shutting down a Beijing-based think tank. The move is seen as payback for activists who have called on government leaders to declare their assets, and on lawyers who defend “sensitive” cases.

Massive new dams remind China of human price of ‘tofu constructions’

(July 20, 2013) China is on the cusp of another dam-building binge. Nowhere is the aggressive dam push raising more eyebrows than in the country’s southwest. Last year, a report by the environmental group Probe International said of the 130 proposed dams on rivers in the region, nearly 50 per cent “are located in zones of high to very high seismic hazard.”

The landslide story

(May 22, 2013) Chinese experts in landslide and geohazard protection fear debris flows, triggered by an epic 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province, may pose a threat to the region for two decades. A tremendous amount of loose material from the landslides is suspended on hillslopes, ready to be washed away by rain. The potential for ongoing landslides and secondary hazards, such as flooding and blocked rivers, they argue, warrants further investigation.

Could dams be causing China’s earthquakes?

(April 24, 2013) Another article exploring the brewing debate over the cause or causes of the April 20 Lushan earthquake reports that the quake may have been an aftershock of Sichuan’s 2008 earthquake disaster, which some experts believe was triggered by the Zipingpu Dam reservoir. This issue of “reservoir-induced seismicity” is fast gaining attention as China, the most dammed nation in the world, is particularly at risk to the phenomenon. A 2011 Chinese study, for example, found China’s massive Three Gorges Dam had triggered around 3,000 earthquakes and numerous landslides in the reservoir region, representing a 30-fold increase in seismic activity in the area.

Shifting tectonic plates, aftershock, dam-related, or all three?

(April 22, 2013) Experts are debating whether the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Sichuan province over the weekend was an aftershock of the region’s deadly 2008 Wenchuan earthquake – both quakes occurred along the same fault line. Some attribute Saturday’s event to natural movement in the earth’s crust but according to Fan Xiao, chief engineer at the Sichuan Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, the Wenchuan quake is also linked to the nearby Zipingpu Dam reservoir. Speaking to the Global Times, Mr. Fan said large reservoirs built on fault lines can induce earthquakes caused by the pressure of massive water volume on a fracture. “A reservoir with a capacity of over 1 billion cubic meters and a dam more than 100 meters tall would have a 30 percent to 40 percent chance of inducing an earthquake,” he said.

Aftershocks from Sichuan earthquake pose threat of secondary disasters

(April 22, 2013) Shockwaves from Saturday’s magnitude-7 earthquake in Sichuan have placed the region on high alert for secondary disasters from landslides and the potential collapse of 54 earthquake-damaged dams, reports South China Morning Post. The coming rains will promote mudslides and threaten the structural integrity of these dams, geologists warn. Already, a state-of-emergency has been declared for five dams and downstream populations have been evacuated. More than 3,000 hydropower engineers and military personnel are now examining every dam in the region but many areas are still inaccessible. Nine nuclear facilities in Sichuan felt shockwaves too, but have not reported any leaking pipes or ruined buildings. As of Sunday night, the region had experienced 1,642 aftershocks.