Impounded dam may have contributed to Wenchuan Earthquake
November 2, 2009
By Canadian Consulting Engineer
The American Geophysical Union has published a research paper suggesting that the construction of a reservoir ...
The American Geophysical Union has published a research paper suggesting that the construction of a reservoir hastened the Wenchuan earthquake in China in May 2008.
The paper by five U.S. researchers was published October 28, 2009 in AGU: Geophysical Research Letters. The authors were Shemin Ge of the University of Colorado, Mian Liu of the University of Missouri, Ning Lu of the Colorado School of Mines, Jonathan W. Godt of the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, and Gang Luo of the University of Missouri.
The researchers studied whether the Zipingpu Reservoir that was impounded in 2005 near the epicenter of the Wenchuan earthquake resulted in stress changes at levels significant enough to have an impact. They found that the impoundment “could have changed the Coulomb stress by -0.01 to 0.05 MPa at locations and depth consistent with reported hypocenter positions. This level of stress change has been shown to be significant in triggering earthquakes on critically stressed faults.”
The earthquake took place in Sichuan province in China on May 12, 2008. Measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale, it killed approximately 68,000 people and left 4.8 million homeless.