The Vajont Dam, Italy: Geology

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Location: 48o 16' 02" N, 012o 19' 45" E.

Topographically, the Vajont Valley was a perfect place for a dam. Geologically, it would be hard to find a worse place. The rocks in the Vajont Valley form a trough called a syncline. The steep and deep gorge means there is nothing to hold the rocks on the sides of the valley except the friction between layers. The south side of the valley was considered especially dangerous because the layers are nearly parallel to the mountainsides and because there is a very wide expanse of weak rocks just below the surface (light green in the colored view).

Despite warnings that the site was dangerous, construction on the dam began in 1957. The dam was completed in 1959 and filling of the reservoir began in 1960.

Possible Coloring

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Created 8 October 2009, Last Update 15 January 2020