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Archive for the ‘earthquake’ Category

Strong Earthquake Hit China, Forced 180,000 to Evacuate

Posted by Author on June 4, 2007

An strong earthquake hit Pu’er, the tea-making city in Yunan province, southwest China on Sunday, bringing down over 90,000 rooms and killing at least three people, one a 4-year-old, and injuring more than 300.

The earthquake forced the evacuation of 180,000 residents.

Power was cut to the city and the only communications possible were by mobile phone, a local official said.

Water supplies were also damaged.

Pu’er, lies near to the border with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.

Details can be found from this Reuters report.

Posted in Asia, China, disaster, earthquake, News, SW China, World | Comments Off on Strong Earthquake Hit China, Forced 180,000 to Evacuate

The High Cost of Geological Disasters in China

Posted by Author on February 24, 2007

by Fan Xiao, translated by Three Gorges Probe, January 29/2007- (cont’d)

The high cost of geological disasters

The river valleys in which most of China’s big dams are planned, under construction or already built — including the Min, Dadu, Yalong, Jinsha, Lancang-Mekong and Nu — are located in the transition belt between the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and Sichuan Basin. The geology in this area is unstable, and geological disasters are frequent.

Due to the dramatic variations in topography and landscape, regions such as this are seen, both inside and outside China, as holding tremendous potential for hydropower development. But at the same time, the risk of geological disasters is particularly high, and a number of hydropower projects have been built in this region of southwest China without due regard for the danger.

There are several well-known earthquake zones and seismically active belts in the region, and an average of one quake registering at least 6 on the Richter scale strikes every 10 years. This is also the region of China that is most plagued by landslides, riverbank collapses and mud-rock flows.

For example, in 1989, during construction of the Manwan dam on the Lancang (Mekong) River in Yunnan province, excavation work on the left bank triggered a massive riverbank collapse, which cut off a road on the top of the dam, brought the construction work to a halt and added 140 million yuan (US$17.5 million) to the cost of the project. Since 1993, when the first Manwan generators went into operation, more than 100 riverbank collapses and landslides have been caused by the big changes in water level during the regular operation of the reservoir.

In March 1995, for instance, 51 riverbank collapses and landslides occurred over the course of one week in Jingdong county alone due to the sudden drop of water level from 991 metres to 940 metres. According to official statistics, 2,958 local people had to be resettled for a second time because of geological disasters triggered by the dam — almost as many as had to be relocated for the dam in the first place (3,042).

In 1996, the Geheyan dam was completed on the Qing River, a tributary of the Yangtze below the Three Gorges. When the Geheyan reservoir was filled for the first time in 1993, rising from 132 metres to 200 metres, deformations began to appear in the Maoping landslide located 66 kilometres upstream of the dam. The landslide had been stable for years and had shown no signs of deformation before the filling of the reservoir.

But now, in the past few years, the huge Maoping landslide, which has a volume of 24 million cubic metres, has started slipping again. If it were to slide into the river, the Qing would be completely blocked and make another big dam upstream unworkable. This is the 233-metre-high Shuibuya dam, currently under construction 90 kilometres upstream of Geheyan and scheduled to be completed in 2008.

In 2001, at the Zipingpu dam site on the Min River, excavation work on the slopes, combined with several days of rain, triggered large-scale landslides and mud-rock flows, blocking a national highway and causing other economic losses.

Dam-induced seismicity is another major problem. As many as 15 earthquakes triggered by dams have been recorded in China.

One of the most serious such tremors occurred near the Xinfengjiang reservoir on the Dong River in Guangdong province. Seismic activity was detected just a month after the reservoir was filled in 1959. And then, on May 7, 1962, a powerful earthquake registering 6.1 on the Richter scale shook the area, with the epicentre only 1.1 kilometres upstream of the dam. The quake killed six people, destroyed 1,800 houses and caused an 82-metre-long crack to open in the structure of the dam, rendering it unworkable. The incident was ranked as one of the world’s six most powerful earthquakes above 6 on the Richter scale that have been triggered by dams.

Two big earthquakes, also above magnitude 6, were reported in Dayao, Yunnan province, in July and October 2003. The tremors damaged 54 large and medium-scale reservoirs built on tributaries of the Jinsha River. Many of the structures developed cracks and began to leak water, forcing the evacuation of people living downstream.

When a dam is being planned and built, the potential impact of seismic activity is considered, and measures to protect the dam are proposed. However, in a geologically complex area prone to disasters, such as southwest China, this does not mean that the dam will be safe. And this does not mean that the reservoir area or the region below the big dam will be safe.

In China, both the feasibility study and environmental impact study for a dam will focus mainly on a geological assessment of the proposed site and the foundation on which the powerhouses will be built. Little attention will be paid to the valley as a whole where this development will take place.

Furthermore, even when a more comprehensive geological assessment of the region is made, the costs of the potential geological disasters are not often taken into account, either in the cost-benefit analysis or the decision-making process. (END)

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<< Poorly Built, Dangerous Dams and Reservoirs in China

original report from Three Gorges Probe

Posted in China, disaster, earthquake, Environment, River, Social, SW China, Technology | 3 Comments »

Quakes jolt Three Gorges area as huge reservoir fills

Posted by Author on November 11, 2006

by Kelly Haggart, Three Gorges Probe, October 30/2006-

The strongest earthquake to hit China’s Hubei province in two decades shook an area near the Three Gorges dam on Friday, the same day the project’s rising reservoir reached the 2006 target of 156 metres above sea level.

State media said no one was seriously hurt in the magnitude 4.7 quake, which struck at 6:52 p.m. Friday [Oct. 27]. The tremor damaged thousands of houses and forced 5,860 people to leave their homes, the Beijing Morning Post reported. Local governments were said to be providing tents and quilts.

The quake was centred in Suizhou city’s Sanligang township, 200 kilometres (120 miles) northeast of the Three Gorges project, but it rocked buildings in Yichang city near the dam, China News Service reported.

More than 50 aftershocks were recorded over the weekend, including a magnitude 4.2 quake on Saturday.

Seismologists monitoring the situation have “ruled out” the possibility of another, stronger quake hitting the region, the official Xinhua news agency said Sunday.

Just hours before the quake struck Friday, Xinhua announced that the Three Gorges reservoir had reached the 156-metre mark at 9:50 that morning.

The operation to raise the reservoir from 135 metres above sea level began on Sept. 20. Small tremors have jolted the area in the past few weeks, including a magnitude 3.0 quake on Oct. 15, Xinhua reported.

The Three Gorges dam is situated near two major fault lines, and project officials say the structure has been built to withstand powerful tremors.

However, the danger of impounding such a vast reservoir in a seismically active region worries experts, and has been a key argument raised against the dam. The Three Gorges reservoir will eventually stretch for 660 kilometres (400 miles) behind the dam.

Around the world, earthquakes have both damaged dams and been caused by them. “Reservoir-induced seismicity” has been recorded even in areas with no previous history of tremors.

In one such case, a reservoir in western India triggered a magnitude 6.3 quake in 1967 that killed 200 people and seriously damaged the Koyna dam.

More than 1,000 minor quakes were detected after the Three Gorges reservoir was filled to the 135-metre level in June 2003, with the biggest recorded at around magnitude 3.0, Three Gorges Corp. deputy general manager Cao Guangjing was quoted as saying by Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po on Sunday.

An increase in seismic activity had been anticipated, Mr. Cao said, and he expressed confidence that the frequency of tremors in the region would return to normal in time.

Wen Wei Po also quoted Chen Yuntai, director of the Institute of Geophysics at the Chinese Earthquake Administration, as saying: “We can’t be sure that the earthquakes were caused by the filling of the reservoir, and we need to undertake advanced monitoring and analysis.”

The Three Gorges reservoir is set to rise a further 19 metres to 175 metres above sea level before the dam becomes fully operational, probably by the end of 2008.

Posted in China, disaster, earthquake, Economy, Environment, News, Technology, Three Gorges | Comments Off on Quakes jolt Three Gorges area as huge reservoir fills

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