June 21, 2024

Dams and Landslides: A Harrowing Story of Environmental Risks

1 min read
Causal relationship found between 2019 Iranian landslide and dam construction, scientists say

Dams have been built worldwide in recent years for the purpose of water supply and energy generation. However, there are concerns about the potential risks associated with dam construction, particularly in areas prone to landslides. A recent study has highlighted a clear connection between reservoir filling and landslide incidents.

In March 2019, a devastating landslide struck Hoseynabad-e Kalpush village in Iran, causing severe damage to 300 houses and cutting off access to the nearby dam. Local authorities initially attributed the landslide to heavy rainfall, but researchers from the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam analyzed satellite data and found that the movement of the slope began shortly after the reservoir started to fill in 2013.

The study published in Engineering Geology indicates that the accumulation of water in the dam raised the local water table, making the soil in the hillside more susceptible to movement. This led to reactivation of an ancient landslide that eventually gave way after heavy rainfall in 2019. The findings underscored the importance of considering potential risks associated with dam construction, particularly in areas prone to landslides.

Engineers and policymakers must take into account how reservoir filling can impact nearby geological structures and implement measures to mitigate risk of landslides. The incident in Hoseynabad-e Kalpush village serves as a cautionary tale emphasizing need for thorough risk assessment and planning when building dams.

By understanding potential consequences of dam construction, we can work towards more sustainable and safe water management practices in future projects.

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