Earthquakes have always been a significant aspect of the design and safety of dams. This position paper deals with the seismic safety of large dams, based on experiences with large earthquakes in Japan (Tohoku earthquake, 2011, Richter magnitude 9.0), in China (Wenchuan earthquake, 2008, Richter magnitude 8.0) and in Chile (Maule earthquake, 2010, Richter magnitude 8.8). It presents ways to prevent key aspects of large dam failure under severe seismic conditions with a focus on design instead of on earthquake prediction. This is done by considering the prevention of uncontrolled rapid release of water of a storage dam under full reservoir conditions in relation to expected seismic conditions.
This position paper is composed by the Committee on Seismic Aspects of Dam Design of The International Committee of Large Dams.