Connection found between 2019 Iranian landslide and construction of dam, say scientists

In recent years, there has been a surge in dam construction either to meet the growing demand for water or to generate power. However, these projects have sparked concerns about their potential impact on the environment. A recent study has shed light on the connection between dam building and increased landslide activity.

One such incident occurred in March 2019 when a landslide devastated Hoseynabad-e Kalpush village in north-central Iran, causing damage to 300 houses and cutting off access to the nearby dam. Initially, local authorities attributed the landslide to heavy rainfall and denied any connection to the dam. However, scientists from the German Research Centre for Geosciences have found evidence that suggests otherwise.

The study analyzed satellite data from the region and discovered that the stable slope where the landslide occurred began to show movement after the reservoir behind the dam started filling with water in 2013. Over time, the land movement progressed from lower portions of the slope to higher as water levels in the reservoir increased. The findings, published in Engineering Geology, indicate that water accumulation in dams raises local water tables, making soil more susceptible to movement and ultimately triggering ancient landslides.

The study serves as a warning to engineers responsible for dam construction. They must consider potential risks associated with reservoir filling and its impact on nearby slopes. By understanding these risks and taking steps to mitigate them, we can better protect communities and infrastructure from potentially devastating consequences of landslides triggered by dam construction.

By Samantha Johnson

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