Oklahoma Dams Survive September 3rd Quake

September 18, 2016 by  
Filed under Geotechnical Structures

By Patrick Bassal:

The Army Corps of Engineers inspected seven dams following the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the Pawnee region on September 3, 2016. No damage has been reported. Their inspection included the large Keystone dam, which is a close distance from the earthquake’s epicenter and capable of life-threatening consequences if it were to ever collapse. Most Oklahoma dams have been built without consideration of seismic forces. A local news television broadcast includes an interview with the local Army Corps Chief of Operations (Local News Broadcast).

The Army Corps uses rigorous national standards to inspect nearby dams and levees following earthquakes. However, two other significant dams, Fort Gibson and Tenkiller, were not inspected because they fall outside of the radius from the epicenter that the Army Corps considers for the requirement of dam and levee inspections (Local News Article).

The state of Oklahoma has about 4,700 dams, most of which have been built before the 1970’s. The risk assessments for most of these dams are consequently outdated. Oklahoma’s inventory of dams has been mapped according to the available hazard classification by StateImpact Oklahoma, a local reporting collaboration. The database for this map has been taken from Stanford University’s National Performance of Dams Program.


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