Top 10 dangerous dams on the Earth

Top 10 dangerous dams on the Earth

Updated on August 17, 2022 10:20 AM by Ella Bina

Here are the top 10 dangerous dams that exist on the planet silently as any small crack or minor problem can result in huge destruction killing millions of people living close to the proximity of the dam.

Hoover Dam-USA

Hoover Dam, situated in Black Canyon on the Colorado River, located at the Arizona-Nevada border, was constructed between 1930 and 1936 and is considered the highest concrete arch dam in the United States. The Dam spreads 185km upstream and is regarded as the biggest man-made lake in the world. 

Hoover Dam, also called Boulder Dam

This Dam is also called Boulder Dam, which is used to control flood and silt deposits. It has housed a hydroelectric power station and is also used for domestic agricultural irrigation and water supply. Today it is considered a popular sightseeing destination with approximately seven million visitors annually.

Hoover dam details

Hoover Dam is 221 meters high and 379 meters long with 3,360,000 cubic meters of concrete. Four reinforced-concrete towers are installed above the Dam divert water from the reservoir into huge steel pipes called penstocks. After falling some 150 meters through the pipes to a hydroelectric power plant at the base of the Dam, the water turns 17 Francis-type vertical hydraulic turbines, which rotate a chain of electric generators with a total capacity of 2,080 megawatts. Nearly half of the electric power goes to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and other destinations and also to the city of Los Angeles, and the rest goes to Nevada and Arizona. The Dam and power plant are owned and managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation.

Reason for calling it a dangerous dam

If the Dam breaks, it could kill millions of people along the Colorado River.

Also Read: Top 10 largest Dams in the World

Almendra Dam-Spain

Almendra Dam is located near a Spanish village, and it took six years to build between 1964 to 1970. Almendra Dam is the hugest one in Spain which is now connected with the Villarino Power Station. The construction is quite complex as it was built first for a 14 meters long underground tunnel designed for electricity output. The most interesting part about the Dam is that after being removed from the Dam goes to another river called the Douro. 

Almendra Dam called as “Villarino”

This Dam has another name, “Villarino,” because this became a part of the huge water power system Duero Drops. Almendra Dam is still one of the marvelous constructions of all time.

Almendra Dam details

Almendra Dam is 200 meters in height and with a length of 567 meters. The Dam has an artificial lake with 90 square meters of area. The Villarino Power Station’s capacity is 810 megawatts.

Reason for calling it a dangerous dam

As the Dam can store 2.5 billion cubic meters of water small or slight damage can result in huge destruction because of its height as well.

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Jinping-I Dam

The Jinping-I Dam is one of the tallest arch dams on the Jinping Bend of the Yalong River in Liangshan, Sichuan, China. The construction started in 2005, intending to harness more power for modern industrialization, improvise protection from floods, and prevent soil erosion. It took nine years to complete the construction of the Dam.

Jinping-I Dam is another name

 Jinping-I Dam is also called Jinping-I Hydropower Station or Jinping 1st Cascade.

Jinping-I Dam details

Jinping-I Hydropower Station has a capacity of 3,600MW, producing 16 to 18TW.h for a year. The Dam has a height of 305 meters, considered the tallest in the World. 

Reason for calling it a dangerous dam

This Dam was built to control the water flow in the Yalong River. Even to this date, the structure’s strength is debatable as a small crack results in serious destruction.

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Kariba Dam- Zimbabwe

Kariba Dam is located across the banks of river Zambezi at Kariba Gorge, located on the borders between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It took three years to finish the project, which started on November 6, 1956, and was completed in 1959.

Kariba Dam details

The Kariba dam is 128 meters high, has a crest of 579 meters in length, and has a capacity volume of 1,032,000 cubic meters. The dam has a Kariba lake, and the power station supplies6,700,000,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, generated by Kariba North Bank and South Bank companies.

Dam construction issues

The project was not easy for the government as they had to evacuate and find resettlement for more than 30,000 Batonka tribes and wild animals, which was done under the name "Operation Noah."

Few Africans initially opposed the dam's construction as it was seen as a symbol of the unpopular Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which was dissolved into Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe and Zambia, in 1963. Later it was accepted as it produces inexpensive power to supply electricity to the Copper industry.

Reason for calling it a dangerous dam

Different authorities carry out the maintenance as one end of the dam is in Zambia, and the other is in Zimbabwe. If the dam is not repaired on time, it can cause massive destruction in the surrounding areas.

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Mosul Dam- Iraq

The Mosul Dam is considered the largest Dam in Iraq, located 60km north of Mosul, on the banks of river Tigris in the western governorate of Nineveh, upstream of the city of Mosul. This Dam is considered the fourth largest Dam in the Middle East. This Dam was built in the 1980s.

Purpose of the Dam

This Dam was constructed to generate hydroelectricity and provide water for irrigation. And also to provide electricity to millions of residents of Mosul.

Mosul Dam, which was formerly called Saddam Dam

Mosul Dam details

The Dam's structure holds about 11.1 cubic kilometers of water. The Dam has a power station with a capacity of 250 megawatts and a run-of-the-river dam downstream with a 62-megawatt total. 

Concerns over the Mosul Dam

This Dam was considered the most dangerous Dam in the World as there was a high level of untreated voids in the Dam's foundation. If the Dam collapses, 11.11 billion cubic meters of water stored in artificial Lake Dahuk will submerge Mosul, which will question millions of people living along the banks of the Tigris river.

Now the Dam is funded by the World Bank. Under a $300m contract, the Italian company is doing the repair work in addition to consolidating the Dam's foundation by injecting cement mix with a grouting process and educating the local staff to use the technology.

Reason for calling it a dangerous dam

Experts are warning that the repair could be a temporary solution and disaster can happen anytime for which people should be evacuated from the river bank of Tigris to save humans.

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Idukki Dam-India

The Idukki Dam is located in Kerala, India, and stands between the mountains of Kuravanmala and Kurathimala, which is constructed and owned by the Kerala State Electricity Board. Idukki Dam is one of the highest arch dams in Asia. It is built on the banks of the Periyar River, in the mountains between the Kuravan and Kurathi Hills in Kerala, India. This dam type is a concrete double curvature parabolic thin arc dam. This dam is constructed along with two other barriers, Cheruthoni and Kulamavu. These three dams have created an artificial lake that is 60 km² in area. The Government of Canada helped in the building of the dam with long-term loans and grants.

Purpose of the dam

The main idea is to act as a source of power generation and also for irrigation purposes which tend to collect copious amounts of rainwater from the southwest monsoon. Idukki, therefore, is critical to Kerala’s flood hazard management program.

Idukki dam details

The dam structure is tall as 168.91 meters and supports a hydroelectric power station with a capacity of 780MW. It is designed to hold over 2,400 feet of water.

Reason for calling it a dangerous dam

As the three dams on it create a huge capacity when stored when flooded, can make a huge disaster by attacking several villages nearby and killing many people around the dam.

Also Read: The 10 most beautiful water dams from around the world

Three Gorges dam- China

Three Gorges Dam is situated on the banks of the Yangtze River west of the city of Yichang in Hubei province, China. The construction began in 1994 and ended only in 2006; it was considered the largest dam structure in the world.

Reason for building a dam

The dam is now a path for navigating oceangoing freighters and generates hydroelectric power, which also protects from floods.

Challenges in constructing the dam

The dam's construction caused the displacement of at least 1.3 million people, which destructed several natural features and rare architectural and archaeological sites. The dam's reservoir has caused several landslides and earthquakes in the region.

Three Gorges dam details

The Three Gorges Dam is 2,335 meters long with a maximum height of 185 meters. In 2020 the hydroelectric plant produced 111.88-kilowatt hours, setting a new world record for annual power generation volume.

This dam submerged large areas of the Qutang, Wu, and Xiling gorges for some 600 km (375 miles) upstream; the dam has created an immense deep water reservoir allowing oceangoing freighters to navigate 2,250 km (1,400 miles) inland from Shanghai in East China to the inland city of Chongqing. 

The five-tier ship locks facilitate navigation of the dam and reservoir at both ends of the complex, which allow vessels of up to 10,000 tons to navigate past the barrier, and a ship lifts, which will enable vessels of up to 3,000 tons to bypass the ship locks and travel past the dam more quickly. At the time of its completion in late 2015, the lift, which was 120 meters long, 18 meters wide, and 3.5 meters deep, was the largest ship lift in the world.

Reason for calling it a dangerous dam

Experts have concluded that the construction of the dam has affected the rotation of the Earth as this dam caused an Earthquake in 2008 that killed more than 87,000 people in China, and the dam is flowing higher level than usual.

Also Read: 7 Different kinds of Dams & Their Uses

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Monticello Dam-USA

Monticello Dam is located on the stream of Putah Creek, where it crosses the eastern boundary of Napa County. It is used to regulate the water flows of Putah Creek and stores surplus water. 

Monticello Dam details

Monticello Dam Power plant was built in 1983. The dam is a medium-thick concrete arch structure with 304 feet height above the foundation and a crest length of 1,023 feet which is located at the base of the Monticello Dam and has three generators.  

Unique Spillway

The Spillway measures 72 feet, and the water drops about 200 feet straight down a narrowing spillway, measuring 28 feet in diameter at the bottom. It then turns 90 degrees and flows into Putah Creek and eventually into the Yolo Bypass.

The Spillway used in the dam is called as Morning Glory Spillway. When the water rises above 440 feet, water flows into the funnel-like Spillway into Putah Creek, located behind the dam. It is a kind of Spillway chosen due to its limited space and adequate rock foundation. 

Reason for calling it a dangerous dam

This dam is labeled as the most hazardous dam because the morning glory spillway is the doorway to death as no one ever survived after falling into the hole as there are turbines that produce electricity.

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Gordon Dam-Australia

The Gordon Dam is a gated double curvature concrete arch dam with a spillway across the Gordon rover located in South West Tasmania, Australia, built-in 1974. The reservoir is called Lake Gordon.

Purpose of the Gordon Dam

This dam was mainly constructed to generate hydroelectric power in the dam’s power station below the dam wall. The Gordon dam has another name, the Gordon River Dam.

The Gordon Dam details

The concrete dam is 198 meters long and 140 meters in height, making it the tallest dam in Tasmania and the fifth dam in Australia. The barrier can hold 12,359,040 thousand cubic meters of water, making Lake Gordon the largest lake in Australia. Water from the dam descends 183 meters underground into its power station, where three turbines of 144 megawatts generate up to 432 megawatts of power, covering about 13% of the electricity demand of Tasmania.

Reason for calling it a dangerous dam

Though the dam is strong, location is a bit of a problem here as a small crack leads to huge destruction.

Contra Dam-Switzerland

The Contra Dam is an arch dam located on the Verzasca river in the Val Verzasca of Ticino, Switzerland. The dam is now owned and taken care of by Verzasca SA and is the fourth tallest in Switzerland. In 1971, a series of earthquakes occurred due to the water load in the reservoir.

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The Contra Dam details

The Contra Dam is a concrete slender arch dam with a height of 220 m and a crest length of 380 m. The dam is 25 m wide at its base and 7 m wide at its crest. The dam creates Lago di Vogorno 2km upstream of Lake Maggiore and supports the 105MW Verzasca Hydroelectric Power station, which produces an average of 234 GWh annually. It took four years to construct the am, which started in 1961.   

The contra dam is also known by the name Verzasca Dam and Locarno Dam.

The dam holds a huge amount of water in it as now it is a popular spot for bungee jumping as a small crack can wash away multiple cities.


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