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Reservoir-induced earthquakes and engineering policy

Allen, Clarence R. (1980) Reservoir-induced earthquakes and engineering policy. Revista Geofísica, 13 . pp. 20-24. ISSN 0252-9769.

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In numerous parts of the world today, including some of the most highly developed countries, many dam designers and operators have tended to close their eyes to the engineering problems posed by reservoir-induced earthquakes. One sometimes hears these kinds of defensive argument: 1) no convincing correlation has yet been demonstrated between earthquakes and reservoirs; 2) since the natural seismicity at a given site is low, the danger of reservoir-inducement is therefore also low; 3) the geology at a given site is different from that at localities where major reservoir-induced events have occurred; 4) only 3 or 4 out of some 11 000 large dams worldwide have experienced significant induced earthquakes, and one should therefore not worry about a given site; and 5) no dam has yet failed disastrously because of a reservoir-induced earthquake, and the danger is thus grossly exaggerated. While many of these arguments have some elements of truth to them, they are essentially evading the primary issues: Virtually every careful study has concluded that there is indeed a cause-and-effect relationship between some earthquakes and some reservoirs, and two dams (Koyna, India, and Hsinfengkiang, China) have in fact come uncomfortably close to disastrous failure during such events. Furthermore, it is precisely in the regions of low natural seismicity where the major existing problems lie, because in areas of high seismicity dams are usually designed for substantial earthquake resistance anyway.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:© 1980 Instituto Panamericano de Geografía e Historia. The author appreciates the critical comments of T.H. Heaton and G.W. Housner.
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Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences3377
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:49854
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:19 Sep 2014 18:13
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 07:17

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