Reservoir-Induced Seismicity

Earthquakes Triggered by Dams

Sichuan earthquake damages building, 14 May 2008
Sichuan earthquake damages building, 14 May 2008 Miniwiki Earthquakes can be induced by dams. Globally, there are over 100 identified cases of earthquakes that scientists believe were triggered by reservoirs (see Gupta 2002). The most serious case may be the 7.9-magnitude Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, which killed an estimated 80,000 people and has been linked to the construction of the Zipingpu Dam. How Do Dams Trigger Earthquakes? In a paper prepared for the World Commission on Dams, Dr. V. P Jauhari wrote the following about this phenomenon, known as Reservoir-Induced Seismicity (RIS):

Global Dam Safety and Security Challenges

Thursday, October 20, 2011
Originally published in Volume 10 Number 4 of the The CIP ReportCenter for Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security (CIP/HS)George Mason University, School of Law With over 54,000 large dams worldwide, dam safety is a major and growing global concern. In a changing climate, dam safety and security is no longer just an issue of aging infrastructure but also of intensifying water conflicts, food security, and appropriate adaptation measures to climate change. Below are just some of the many examples of dam safety and security issues from around the world. Dam Safety and Earthquakes While

Chinese Government Acknowledges Problems of Three Gorges Dam

The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River
The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River In an unexpected statement, China’s government has just acknowledged the serious problems of the Three Gorges Dam. “The project is now greatly benefiting the society in the aspects of flood prevention, power generation, river transportation and water resource utilization,” the government maintained, but it has also “caused some urgent problems in terms of environmental protection, the prevention of geological hazards and the welfare of the relocated communities.” On the same day, it announced concrete measures to improve the living conditio

Dam Burst Feared After Qinghai Earthquake, China

On April 14, 2010, an earthquake measuring at 7.1 (6.9 according to the US Geological Survey) struck Yushu County in the largely Tibetan area of Qinhai Province. The tremor, whose epicenter lies near the high mountain town of Jiegu in Yushu County on the Qinghai Plateau, killed 1,700 people and seriously injured 11,000. The earthquake has highlighted civil society's concerns regarding dam safety and earthquake-related dam bursts. According to Chinese news reports, the Changu (or Thrangu in Tibetan) hydropower dam was damaged by the earthquake, and is "at the risk of collapse a

The Qinghai Earthquake and Dams

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
International Rivers Media Advisory Another terrible earthquake has struck China. The 7.1 tremor with an epicenter near Jiegu in Yushu County on the Qinghai Plateau has killed at least 400 people. According to Chinese news reports, the Changu (or Thrangu in Tibetan) hydropower dam was damaged by the earthquake, and is "at the risk of collapse at any time." The Changu (Thrangu) Project is located upstream of the county seat, Jiegu, and is clearly visible on Google Earth. If the dam breaks, it would endanger the lives of more than 100,000 people living downstream. International Ri

The Dam That Shook the Earth

Zipingpu Dam
Zipingpu Dam ChengDu Online, Scientists agree that dams can trigger earthquakes. A new research paper presents fresh evidence that the devastating earthquake which killed more than 80,000 people in China’s Sichuan Province in May 2008 was triggered by the Zipingpu Dam. This would be the world’s deadliest dam-induced earthquake ever. Reservoirs can trigger quakes by adding weight to the Earth crust, and by lubricating the fissures of faults. As I reported earlier on this blog, there are more than 70 earthquakes which scientists believe have been induced by dams. In the

A Faultline Runs Through It: Exposing the Hidden Dangers of Dam-Induced Earthquakes

Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Besides posing a major risk to dams, scientists are increasingly certain that earthquakes can be triggered by the dams themselves. Globally, scientists believe that there are over 100 instances, strewn over six continents, of dam reservoirs inducing earthquakes. The most serious case could be the magnitude-7.9 Sichuan earthquake in China in May 2008, which some experts believe may have been induced by the Zipingpu Dam. Download the factsheet for more information on Reservoir-Induced Seismicity, including key case studies of potential RIS sites, quotes from leading seismologists, and a list of

Google Earth Map of Global RIS Sites

Click on the virtual push pins below for more information on known or suspected RIS sites. View Global Suspected RIS Sites in a larger map

Debunking the Debunkers: Dams Really Can Trigger Quakes

Microseismicity in an exploited reservoir for an oil field
Microseismicity in an exploited reservoir for an oil field NORSAR Amid the recent hubbub surrounding whether Zipingpu Dam may have triggered the disastrous Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, it's important to clear up a few misconceptions about Reservoir-Induced Seismicity (RIS): 1.No convincing correlation has yet been demonstrated between earthquakes and reservoirs. False. While scientists lack comprehensive data to conclusively link earthquakes to dams in some potential RIS cases, in a number of other cases with careful RIS studies, a definite cause-and-effect relationship has

Kariba Dam Safety Concerns

Kariba Dam
Friday, February 13, 2009
The 128-meter-high Kariba Dam is one of Africa’s biggest. Operated by the Zambezi River Authority on behalf of Zimbabwe and Zambia, it has been a cause for concern on a number of safety issues, including from its earliest days when the filling of its reservoir caused earthquakes, to more recent times when rumors began to surface that the huge dam had structural problems and suffered from poor maintenance. Kariba has also worsened the region's floods in recent years. Earthquakes Kariba Dam The filling of what was then the world's largest reservoir was followed by considerable


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