Scientists are saying that last year’s 7.9 earthquake in China may have been man-made. The cause could be the 511 foot high Zipingpu dam that holds 315 million tons of water. The dam lies just 550 yards from the fault line.
The dam is only three miles from the epicenter of the Sichuan earthquake.
Researchers in China and the United States bleieve that that weight of the water and the effects that the water had penetrating into the rock may have effected the fault line. The Telegraph quotes Fan Xiao, the chief engineer of the Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau in Chengdu saying that it is very likely that the 2004 construction of the dam helped lead to the disaster that killed thousands.
“There have been many cases in which a water reservoir has triggered an earthquake,” said Mr Fan. “This earthquake was very unusual for this area.
There have been no seismic activities greater than a magnitude seven quake along this particular seismic belt before.”
The earthquake last June was one of China’s worst disasters. It left more than five million people without a home.
In the earthquake zone there are almost 400 hydroelectric dams. The government had been warned that so much activity in the area could be a danger but the warnings were not heeded.
“I not only opposed the construction of Zipingpu, but also the overdevelopment of the reservoirs on Minjiang River. There are ten major reservoirs on the main river, 29 on its tributaries and a lot more smaller-scale reservoirs, all of which block the flow of the entire river, and are very hazardous to the local geology,” Fan said.
The magnitude of the quake surprised scientists even with the area being prone to quakes. The fault line had not had major seismic changes for millions of years prior to the May earthquake.
Earthquakes and dams have a history. The Hoover dam area had several during its construction but none at the magnitude as the Chinese quake.