Museum to House Yangtze History

Construction of an underwater museum housing the world's oldest hydrologic inscriptions,detailing the Yangtze River's water levels in the reservoir of the Three Gorges Project,will start early next year.

The museum is the brain-child of scientist Ge Xiurun,a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

The inscriptions,dating back 1,200 years,appear on a 1,600-meter by 16-meter horizontal stone girder commonly known as "Baiheliang,"which records the history of the river's levels.

An original protection plan expected that when the massive water-control project is being built on the river's middle reaches,the inscribed girder would be buried naturally by silting at the bottom of the reservoir formed behind the dam.

However,Ge suggested it should be possible to build an underwater museum at the middle of the girder where the inscriptions are concentrated.

Underwater lighting will be installed so visitors can view the inscriptions via glass windows.

Ge explained the top of the underwater museum would be submerged when the water level is high and would stand above the water surface when the level is low.

( September 18, 2002)