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The Dam Site

Dams have been built for thousands of years; some have failed causing disastrous floods. Many of these dam failures were caused by particular geological characteristics of the soils and rocks at the dam site. The birth of engineering geology as a separate specialist profession is often said to date from the failure of the St. Francis Dam in the U.S.A. in 1928. For information on other dam failures see Dam Failure .

Today engineering geologists are routinely employed to carry out investigations for all types of civil and mining engineering construction projects. The purpose of most engineering geology work is to try to ensure that a proposed structure is built for the lowest cost consistent with currently accepted safety standards. Accepted standards of safety may, and usually do, change with time. What was acceptable 50 years ago may not be acceptable today.

A good starting point for researching dams on the Internet is the Wikipedia Dam page.

Information about individual dams around the world can be found in the Wikipedia list of reservoirs and dams.

The following 2003 article in The Economist gives a good general summary of the pros and cons of dam building.

The links at the left are to pages that attempt to answer some of the frequently asked questions about dams.

I have a special interest in Spillways for Dams and particularly in the Geology of Dam Spillways .



(March 2012)     Much of the dam design and construction work in New South Wales in recent years has been related to improving the stability and safety of existing dams (particularly in the event of very large flood events) Dam Safety Upgrades


(January 2007) Australian Water Policy, Tillegra Dam and other Dams of the Hunter River Valley, New South Wales









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