A network of 21 digital earthquake monitoring stations is to be set up in the Chongqing section of the Three Gorges Reservoir area by the end of next year, a local earthquake official said on Tuesday.
Estimated to cost 29.6 million yuan (US$3.7 million), the stations will monitor seismological activity around the clock, said Zhang Rong, head of the Earthquake Prevention Office of the Chongqing Municipal Seismological Bureau.
Construction of the Three Gorges Project, the world's biggest hydroelectric project, began on the Yangtze River in 1993 and is expected to be completed in 2008, a year ahead of schedule. The huge reservoir was filled from June 2003, inundating more than 220 counties in Chongqing and Hubei Province on the river's upper and middle reaches.
Geological disasters like landslides and mud-rock flows were common before the construction of the Three Gorges Project, sparking fears of possible calamities after water storage began.
The government has invested more than 4 billion yuan (US$482 million) in the prevention and control of geological disasters in the Three Gorges area.
The stations would provide technical support for security of the Three Gorges Reservoir and prevent damage caused by earthquakes and other disasters, Zhang said.
A geographical disaster database for the reservoir area has also been established and advanced technologies like satellite remote sensing are being used to monitor the geological situation.
The project, including a 2,309-meter-long, 185-meter-high dam equipped with 26 generators, is expected to produce 84.7 billion kWh of electricity annually when completed. It is also expected to control flooding on the Yangtze, fuel industrial growth and upgrade the shipping industry.
(Xinhua News Agency August 23, 2006)