Vajont’s Message for the Three Gorges – David Petley

From China Dialogue:

In 1963, thousands in northern lost their lives as villages were washed away by huge flooding caused by the Vajont dam. Risk expert David N Petley has studied the disaster, and considers what it means for China’s Three Gorges project.

It is in this context that the recent announcements about the potential for at the site cause such concern. The parallels between the projects are notable. Construction of both dams occurred during a time of rapid economic development; both dams were considered to be modern marvels that pushed the limits of the available technologies. In both cases, landslides started to occur in the early stages of filling and became progressively worse. In both cases there appears to have been a belief, at times, that nature can be tamed. The geology of the two sites is also quite similar. [Full Text]

Professor David N. Petley holds the Wilson Chair in Hazard & Risk at the Department of Geography, Durham University.


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