"China is desperatly needs energy and water..An Earthquake induced by Three Gorge Dam would destroy China's Dream of Becoming the next Worlds Super Power !"
In a project reminiscent of the Great Wall, the Chinese are building another of the world's largest structures. When they finish the Three Gorges Dam, the Chinese will have built a wall across the third largest river in the world, created a reservoir almost 300 miles long, and tapped an electrical source equal to 18 nuclear power plants.
Water held by the dam also may trigger earthquakes that could threaten millions of people. Two scientists at the Geophysical Institute are working together to help the Chinese assess the earthquake risk of Three Gorges Dam. Born in the mountains of the Tibetan Plateau, the Yangtzi River flows almost 4,000 miles to the ocean, making it the third longest river in the world after the Nile and the Amazon (the Yukon is half the length of the Yangtzi).
Hoping to harness the power of the river, the Chinese government began building the dam a few years ago, expecting to finish by 2009. When the mile-wide, 600-foot high dam is complete, the flooding upstream will begin. As the water rises, it will drown more than 1,400 rural towns and villages abandoned earlier by government decree. The water rising behind the dam will power 26 huge turbines to provide electricity, and will allow people to control a river that has killed 300,000 people by flooding during the 20th century.
No one knows how local seismic faults will react to the incredible mass of water behind Three Gorges Dam. Like heavy snow on an overloaded roof, the weight of water blocked by dams can cause existing cracks in Earth's crust to slip, resulting in earthquakes. Faults tend to slip more often when a nearby giant reservoir is filled with water. The largest was a magnitude 6.5 triggered by the Konya reservoir in Turkey. That earthquake killed 200 people in December 1967.
NASA funded Jeff Freymueller and Shusun Li of the Geophysical Institute to help the Chinese determine the seismic risk of Three Gorges Dam. Millions of people downstream from the dam are at risk should an earthquake damage or destroy it. "A catastrophic failure of the dam would be perhaps the single most destructive event in human history," said Freymueller, a professor of geophysics. He added that the chances of the dam being destroyed by an earthquake are small, but because the consequences are so severe any seismic activity induced by the reservoir has to be taken seriously.
Three Gorges Dam the CAUSE of Chinese Earthquake? Resevoir Induced Seismicity'-A Well Recognized Problem
China just had it's biggest EQ in over 30 years. A significant event, considering the enormous area of Chinese territory.
So I'm doing a little research on the nearby Three Gorges Dam in China. The largest dam in the world, under construction for years, it's reservoir is expected to reach full capacity in 2009. The project has been plagued with engineering and construction problems from the beginning right to this day.
What's interesting, is that from the perspective of outside technical observers, two of the biggest problems with the Three Gorges Dam is it's susceptibility to large earthquakes, and the fact that the largest dam ever built could cause earthquakes. In a phenomenon known as 'Resevoir Induced Seismicity'.
The CYJV, the "Canadian Yangtze Joint Venture" is the consortium that is building the dam in China. From the following link-
"Although CYJV discusses some safety issues, it makes many major assumptions and gross underestimations about the dam’s design which effectively put the probable risk of dam failure greater than the risk of a 1000-year flood for which the project is designed. Examples of the flaws in CYJV’s analysis are as follows...
Inadequate analysis of reservoir-induced seismicity
CYJV recognizes that the weight of the water in a large reservoir can initiate earthquakes. However, in developing ground acceleration design criteria, CYJV uses only historical records of earthquakes, which means that the design accelerations selected are likely to be too low and/or would occur more frequently than expected..
Therefore, it appears that the dam design is based on the optimistic assumption that no movement would occur on these faults, despite the experience with RIS elsewhere. For example, the Koyna Dam in India initiated an earthquake (approximately 6.0 in magnitude) that seriously damaged the dam and killed 200 people in an area that had not previously been seismically active"
Also curiously, the very first news report on the Three Gorges Dam after the earthquake that shows up on Google news contained this tidbit, this was the first news report on the dam, it was less than 5 hours after the quake-
"...the gigantic Three Gorges Dam in China held up to the quake. Not yet completed, the latter rises on the Blue River not far from the central Hubei province and, according to experts, the weight of the water in the gigantic basin of the much-talked about dam is enough to increase the danger of powerful seismic activity in the region."