Vol19 No.6: 1717-1737
【Title】Hazards from lakes and reservoirs: new interpretation of the Vaiont disaster
【Author】Alan P. DYKES*; Edward N. BROMHEAD
【Addresses】Centre for Engineering, Environment and Society Research, School of Engineering and the Environment, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 2EE, UK
【Corresponding author】Alan P. DYKES
【Citation】Dykes AP, BromheadEN (2022) Hazards from lakes and reservoirs: new interpretation of the Vaiont disaster. Journal of Mountain Science 19(6). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11629-021-7098-3
【Abstract】Hazards in reservoirs and lakes arising from subaerial landslides causing impact waves (or ‘lake tsunamis') are now well known, with several recent examples having been investigated in detail. The potential scale of such hazards was not widely known at the time of the Vaiont dam project in the 1950s and early 1960s, although a small wave triggered by a landslide at another new reservoir nearby in the Dolomites (northern Italy) drew the possible hazard to the attention of the Vaiont project's managers. The Vaiont disaster in 1963 arose from a combination of disparate and seemingly unrelated factors and circumstances that led to an occurrence that could not have been imagined at that time. The ultimate cause was a very large landslide moving very rapidly into a reservoir and displacing the water. The resulting wave overtopped the dam to a height of around 175 m and around 2000 people were killed. This paper identifies and examines all of the issues surrounding the Vaiont dam and landslide in order to identify causal factors, contributory factors (including aggravating factors) and underlying factors. In doing so, it demonstrates that the disaster arose from the Vaiont dam project and cannot be attributed simply to the landslide. Underlying geological factors gave rise to the high speed of the landslide, which would have occurred anyway at some time. However, without the contributory factors that account for the presence of the reservoir, i.e. the choice of location for the project and management of the project with respect to a possible landslide hazard, there would have been no disaster. Indeed, the disaster could have been avoided if the reservoir could have been emptied pending further ground investigations. Understanding of this case provides many lessons for future dam projects in mountainous locations but also highlights an ongoing and perhaps under-appreciated risk from similar events involving other water bodies including geologically recent lakes formed behind natural landslide dams.
【Keywords】Vaiont landslide; Impulse wave;Lake tsunami;Dam project;Causal factors for disaster