I guess it doesn't have the same structural problems, related to a bad soil.
The Forever War
The Forever War (not the space war book) is excellent however.
I'd certainly put the culture series close to par with Ender's Game and the Dune novels. They're most excellent.
Banks is an incredible author.
She was also telling me that during the time that ISIS held the dam, they managed to booby trap the entire place. They had multiple Iraqi workers killed in bathrooms from traps set. However, ISIS didn't manage any real structural damage to the dam.
This makes it sound like they were intentionally trying to destroy the damn, were they?
I'm not an expert but it seems like it should be easy for a military group controlling a damn to blow it up if they wanted to. Though the article mentions that it was built to be resistant against air strikes, so maybe not?
She said it would have been pretty difficult for them to cause significant structural damage, because as mentioned it was 'bomb proof' and as stated they were making money up until the very end in selling electricity.
I am astonished that "Grouting" (A term i find like many in the engineering word makes a possibly questionable practice sound like a good idea) is a functional, let alone acceptable solution, I can only begin to imagine what the ground under that dam must look like after the last 20+ years of concrete being poured into it.
Please, please subscribe to the New Yorker in some fashion ... I personally subscribe to the kindle version which is a very useful and workable format.
The New Yorker regularly has very, very good long form articles that have deepened my understanding of what I consider to be very important issues. Off the top of my head, I can think of three such articles that stick out - their long treatment of the deepwater horizon accident and the chemical dispersants that were used in the cleanup, their decade-after-the-fact retrospective article on Gore vs. Bush, and a more recent article on the police officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.
 Also the London Review of Books which is excellent for long form current events articles. Also book reviews.
Reading "Precedent and Prologue" (Gore V's bush supreme court article) I got so interested in the judicial activism concept and ended up lost on Wikipedia for a few hours bouncing around related articles. The exact same thing happened to me with this Mosul Dam article, when I saw myself reading about Gaddafi I realized I had gone so far down the rabbit hole that the topics I was now reading about were only vaguely related.
All said and done, it's a good point i really should become a paid subscriber, thanks for suggesting it!
It is a political commentary and sometimes its subjective but i think his work make lot of people think and investigate. That's whole lot better than something that tries to be objective no matter what - that always ends up saying practicaly nothing.
Then watch Only The Dead (see the end of a war) by an australian bloke
Good luck sleeping afterwards
The most depressing part to me is that Adam Curtis isn't off on an easily dismissed tangent in this documentary, he's essentially cross cut the last 40 years into a 3 hour cliff notes guide to some of the darker corners of postmodern philosophy.
Specifically, Baudrillard. His 2002 essay, The Violence of the Global has some interesting food for thought:
>We believe that the ideal purpose of any value is to become universal. But we do not really assess the deadly danger that such a quest presents. Far from being an uplifting move, it is instead a downward trend toward a zero degree in all values. In the Enlightenment, universalization was viewed as unlimited growth and forward progress. Today, by contrast, universalization exists by default and is expressed as a forward escape, which aims to reach the most minimally common value. This is precisely the fate of human rights, democracy, and liberty today. Their expansion is in reality their weakest expression.
HyperNormalism is bleak and offers no solutions for course correcting international affairs, and there's the rub: universal solutions may not exist.
For me, my mind's left reeling by the complexity of the times, leaving me at a loss for how to integrate information from sources like Baudrillard into my worldview guiding day-to-day behavior. My typical response is a hyperlocal focus on the people around me in meatspace and trying to at least get the basics right like the golden rule.
If you believe that you should not read main stream news (like I do) this is one of the sources to get 'good' news from.
First, longform articles such as this one usually come months or years after the fact and don't help with the primary mission of journalism, which is to keep you abreast of the goings on around you. (Of everything from "what your local government is doing and how that affects you" to "what the financial markets in another continent are up to and how that affects you.") This is my opinion, but I think that the pejorative "mainstream media" is often used as a substitute for "media that doesn't write a story how I want it written."
Second, The New Yorker is owned by Advance Publications, which is about as "mainstream" of media as you're going to find. One of their larger publishing subsidiaries is Conde Nast, which publishes The New Yorker alongside Architectural Digest, Vogue, Golf World, GQ, and several other publications. You may also know them as the publisher of ArsTechnica. They also own more than 40 newspapers.
Just my two cents, for what that's worth these days.
I think journalism needn't only tell you what happened, but also why (in the opinion of the journalist) it happened. The latter requires reflection and/or research, so it cannot come directly after the fact.
I even think the why is more important than the what, as what doesn't give you enough information to react. For example, "X threatens to go to war with Y over Z" may mean just that, but also "X wants to show Y they are really concerned over Z" or "X wants to win the next elections, so it shows the electorate what it wants to hear". How other countries should react is quite different.
I think there are many facets to the mission of journalism. In-depth and investigative journalism are very important as well as being kept up-to-date on what's happening in the day-to-day. In some cases I prefer these more in-depth pieces as they have some perspective on how the events they're describing are affected by historical context and how they are affecting what's going on in current events. Consider the Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate coverage or the Boston Globe's coverage of the child sex abuse by Catholic priests in Boston.
Different events and issues can be served by different forms. For a piece like this, I have a hard time imagining it being served better as a short piece of a couple column inches in a paper or a 90 second segment on the evening news. Not all events need coverage like this, of course, but it doesn't make the long-form pieces any less an important and vital aspect of journalism.
I agree and I should have written more words that are like what you wrote. The New Yorker is great for what it is, in-depth coverage of a complicated or unfamiliar topic. I suppose my point was that other, more general sources ought, in my opinion, to be part of a "balanced diet" of news coverage.
That magazine and The Economist (which I loved but couldn't afford a subscription to) kept me much better-informed than I am now, when I'm old and jaded and happier being ignorant.
Desperate times probably call for desperate solutions in this case.
But presumably only once.
I'm surprised you never witnessed it, I've seen this at least 3-4 times. Probably because nowadays constructions sites have big opaque fences around them.
Grouting refers to multiple things when talking about foundations or underground work but here are some examples:
Jet grouting - high pressure water/grout/air is used to displace and mix the soil and grout to make a soilcrete
Compensation grouting - grout is injected under pressure into the soil in order to displace/heave the ground to counteract previous settlement
Cutoff grouting - grout is injected into the ground in order to cut off ground water
What they're doing at the dam appears to be backfill grouting where they are injecting grout from within the dam underneath it trying to cut off the seepage path of the voids that have formed. This appears to be because they've built the dam on a soluble rock and so voids are constantly created which allow flow paths. They must find the voids and fill them with grout. This is a never ending process until all rock is replaced with grout.
All the projects I've seen here in recent years, and there are hundreds, use caisson holes, wide, bored holes going straight down, to create the basis of the foundation. Once drilled, they insert steel and fill it with concrete. The equipment resembles a very large-scale post-hole digger.
It seems to be fairly quick and work quite well: http://www.rwhengineering.ca/?page_id=2518
Although the drilling machines are somewhat loud, they're an order of magnitude quieter than the pile driving machines. The amount of banging those machines would generate was absolutely nuts.
Also, I don't see concrete piles being abandoned at all. Part of the reason may be that, where I live, many poles now are drilled, pressed or vibrated into the ground to decrease noise and potential impact on surrounding buildings.
Thats is possible because there is no bedrock to build on where I live, so poles often go down easily for the first meters; I have seen wooden poles sink in five meters or so under their own weight.
Traditional piling into the ground still is used, too. If necessary, a protective head cover on the pole (made from wood or, nowadays, plastic) softens the blows a bit, protecting the concrete from damage.
Imagine the pile hammer hitting the top of the pile. This impulse is transmitted down the length of the pile at the speed of sound as a wave. There exists a point where the wave gets to the end of the pile (this is at the pile tip) and the compression front attempts to continue which results in tension (eg - the pile tip is dragging itself forward with the energy). This is mostly seen with soft soils where end reaction is not sufficient to provide a hard "stop" on the pile.
For hard ground, the opposite can occur where the driving energy reflects at the pile tip. This can result in huge compressive forces that crush (not crack) the concrete due to the two compressive waves (one new wave from the next hammer strike and the reflected wave from the previous hammer strike) stacking due to superposition.
The reason that this failure mechanism wasn't noted by me is that steel piles suffer the same issue, so it is not a good reason to use steel over concrete piling.
As you note, the solution to both issues is the use of a shoe and control of the hammer stroke.
I should have been more clear, I guess. Driven concrete pile is not used in the USA/Canada in my experience. When deep concrete foundations are used they are typically drilled in, for the reasons cited above.
There are obviously times when concrete piles are cheaper and will get the job done even with the risks above. This is most likely for smaller buildings where loadings are relatively light and pile lengths are therefore short.
In the Netherlands this is still done quite often because the soil is too unstable. Concrete piles are driven into the weak soil until it hits the sand. Houses are typically built on top. The pole can be protected with a wooden block that due to the friction can set fire.
Amsterdam is known to be built on wooden piles that remain intact as long as they stand under water: pumping away the water will cause the piles to rot and the houses to sink away.
"Early in 2016, under American prodding, the Iraqis reopened negotiations with Trevi S.p.A., the Italian firm. In September, a team of engineers, hired at a cost of three hundred million dollars, arrived at the dam to perform a crash repair job. Their main task is to install updated equipment, designed to fill the voids beneath the dam more precisely, and to repair the broken control gate. Under the contract, the Italians will do the grouting for a year, and then leave the equipment with their Iraqi counterparts. The engineers say that they are confident they can prevent the dam’s foundation from washing away."
Also, this dam still is close to a war zone, if not in a war zone. That updated equipment may not make it there, can get destroyed in an attack, or the personnel doing the work can be 'persuaded' not to work or may outright be killed.
What surprises me most about this story is that they kept delivering power to the enemy, while they also could have let all or most of the water out. It wouldn't surprise me if money or backstabbing ("we'll keep delivering electricity if you focus on attacking your other enemies instead of on getting back the dam from us") was involved there.
One is the local population lacks the training and expertise to run and maintain this "state of the art" infrastructure. Not that they couldn't become capable because they certainly could but their frame of reference is maintaining 40 or 50 year old infrastructure.
The second issue is that they don't have the financial means of maintaing this newly installed infrastructure. Their operating budget often can't accommodate the maintenance of such state of that art infrastructure. What's good for a first world contractors bottom line is not necessarily the best fit for a third world country's utility company.
This book details a lot of this and is worth a look:
I'd speculate that this might be due to Baathist secularism and militarism, as well as the areas legacy of being arguably the intellectual center of the Muslim world.
Worse, the construction was done "on the cheap" as dictated by the Hussein regime. Instead of digging deeply into the delicate and soluble gypsum and grouting properly, the engineers were forced to use a shallow blanket-grout technique which simply requires more maintenance going forward as it failed to stop dissolution. Grouting on this dam is done six days a week. That's right, every day but Sunday since 1986. ISIS's pause of this created this crisis.
Contrary to your point, if it was done "first world style" it would be a much more stable dam, but instead the Hussein regime was too busy buying palaces and gold toilets to care too much about getting large scale projects right. Iraqis now much pay forward the technical debt of the shallow blanket grout until the dam is decommissioned. There is no alternative here and this dam should be a study of autocratic regime's attempts at cost savings which ultimately cost more in the long run and may eventually cause a human rights disaster. I believe 1m people are at risk of drowning if this dam collapses. These are non-trivial numbers.
The Mosul Dam was not built cheaply, it was rushed to completion to meet some idiotic deadline. The other options would likely not have cost much more (especially considering maintenance), but it would have taken more time.
And it was "first-world style", the consultants and construction firms were European just like the ones that built Kariba Dam. They had no problem building it nor any problem cashing the cheques.
Saddam had the crazy idea that he could conquer the Middle East and make Iraq into a world superpower. So he started a war with much larger Iran, the war stalemated and went on for 8 years, with enormous loss in human lives, and enormous debts piled up on the Iraqi side. That ended and Saddam invaded Kuwait to get its oil riches, leading to the Gulf War which Iraq quickly lost.
Saddam still wanted to build an empire, so he prevented full nuclear arms inspections to keep the rest of the Middle East afraid he still had a nuclear arms program, and in fact planned to re-start it after the inspection and sanctions program ended.
That lead to the Iraqi war, which Iraq quickly lost, and left Iraq so divided and disorganized that ISIS could arise and take much of the country, including temporarily taking the Mosul Dam. And the disorganized, corrupt government has bungled dealing with the threat of the dam collapsing, and so we are in the present, very dangerous situation.
So it all goes back to Saddam Hussein, and the generally poor political situation in Iraq, and beyond that, I would say, the Middle East as a whole.
I think people should trust independent experts much more than companies under contract from a very corrupt and incompetent government. Don't you agree?
Not that destroying infrastructure and killing the power to a city of civilians, despite ISIS control, is necessarily a good idea, but could they not just cut the lines?
Do you know what happens when you run a turbine with nowhere to put the load? 750MW is enough to boil something like a kiloton of water every hour, that energy needs to go somewhere.
When a generator is disconnected from the power system without first removing the power from the shaft then power in is greater than power out and the result is an acceleration of the generator. Generators are built to be able to withstand a certain maximum rotational speed without flying apart for a certain duration of time before the bearings get too hot. Of course it can operate at the normal speed forever, but the rated over speed might be twice as fast for 10 minutes.
So when the power lines are cut the turbines and generators speed up until the flow of water is stopped. Pictures of the Mosul dam show four surge tanks, one for each turbine, so they can probably turn off the water in 5-10s.
Pelton turbines are used for higher head and the flow can be maintained without turning the turbine by deflecting the water away from the runner.
I've commissioned about a dozen hydro electric power plants and opening the breaker to simulate cutting the transmission line while making 10, 25, 50,75,100% of the power is standard procedure.
Moreover, if the dam is indeed that easy to destabilize, letting ISIS control the load seems equivalent to handing them a big red "trigger flood" button for use at their discretion. Sure, right now it's in their interest to keep the dam intact - because they still control many parts of Mossul and need the electricity. But "scorched earth" is not exactly a new concept and if the operation in Mossul continues as planned and ISIS is driven out, they could decide to cut the lines on their end to deliberately cause mechanical failures.
The mosul dam is 113 m high and the article said they were operating the dam with the water level 30m below the normal full level. Probably the sill of the spillway is only 10 or less below the normal operating level, because if the dam isn't full why would you want to spill.
The control gates at the bottom of the dam could have been primarily for allowing sediment to be sluice out from behind the dam or to allow the reservoir to be drained.
There is no guarantee the two control gates could pass as much flow as the turbines. Who knows how they were sized.
As I tried to explain before, cutting the power lines shouldn't damage any equipment. It effectively happens all the time due to natural causes, be they tree branches falling on power lines, birds, squirrels, etc.
Flow through an orifice (sluice gate, control gate, turbine, etc) varies with the square root of the pressure of water (the head), so a side effect of operating the dam with 30 m less head (30% less!) is that the turbines would be operating outside of their normal range and the control gates would pass less flow than they would at the nominal head.
There was a terrible accident at a dam in russia that was caused by operating the turbine outside of the normal range of pressure, and poor maintenance (loose bolts holding the turbine down...):
If this is a concern, why isn't there a worry that ISIS or just a stray bomb would kill the power lines when retreating from Mosul? Though I suppose they could just target the dam itself...
The load in the circuit acts as a brake. If you kill the circuit, the turbine spins faster and faster until it breaks into pieces. To prevent that, the control systems stop the water from flowing into the turbine, but stopping the water from draining is the opposite of what they want.
Next time you are near a dam look around and you will find that most have three paths for the water to leave the reservoir. The first is through the power generating turbines, second is the sluice gates which control water level, and third is the emergency spill way which is designed to fend off catastrophic failure.
A dam should have something like that....
Drilling a second tunnel just to let water out is probably not considered economical.
I don't know if the control gates can drain the reservoir completely or they have some minimum level, but the article implies that there is some action that the Iraqi government could take:
> Last spring, the Iraqi government prepared by lowering the maximum water level in the reservoir, to ease severe pressure on the dam wall. This year, such a precaution could dramatically lessen the number of people at risk—to about three hundred and sixty-four thousand.
What isn't clear is whether the water level right now could be lowered immediately or the water level now is at a seasonal low point and the Iraqi government hasn't announced whether they'll spill water in the spring to keep it low.
Economical relative to what? The projected losses if half the populated area of the country is flooded?
Now you've got a dam full of boiling water. And as you'll know from cleaning dishes, boiling water is far better at dissolving minerals than is cold water.
I couldn't find the formulas to calculate this myself, but given Tuna-Fish's comment above that it's enough to boil a kiloton of water (1000 m^3) ever hour that's 1K/8B =~ 0.00001%.
So it's going to be more on the order of dropping a single drop of boiling water into a backyard pool every hour, is it not? I.e. something that wouldn't change the overall temperature of the reservoir to any significant degree.
This is all assuming that you'd have to use the energy to heat the reservoir itself, you could just as easily use it to pump out some water and boil it until it evaporates, not impacting the temperature of the reservoir at all, just emitting a lot of steam into the air.
The dam was never able to be filled and is just called the masonry dam since nobody wanted it named after them.
That's a magnitude of difference.
A meter is over 3 feet, so a cubic meter is over 3^3 or 27 cubic feet. You can ask google for a precise value: https://www.google.com/search?q=cubic+meter+in+cubic+feet And 10^3 meters on a side would be a kilometer.
So I thought of something I could picture a thousand of - for example millimeters. A thousand mm is just 1 meter, so I can easily see/picture a billion of something (cubic millimeters of air) right in front of me (as 1m x 1m x 1m). Neat!
It's a classic, by Charles and Ray Eames.
> Up close, the work is wet, improvisatory, and deeply inexact. [...] Like his boss, Jabouri has worked at the dam since he was a young engineering graduate. Now, he told me, he is as sensitive to the dam’s changes as the electronic gear buzzing around him. [...]
“We feel our way through,” Jabouri said, standing by the pump. Generally, smaller cavities require thinner grout, so Jabouri started with a milky solution and increased its thickness as the void took more. Finally, after several hours, he stopped; his intuition, aided by the pressure gauges, told him that the cavity was full.
The irony saddens me that, if you replaced that worker and his human lifetime of knowledge with a "data-driven control system" and his intuition with a "machine learning algorithm", we would all hail the result as the pinnacle of technology in mainantence systems - even though the data and actual descision making would be almost the same...
Except we're not talking about standard human labor. The guy isn't building bricks, he's maintaining a damn through "feel". That's not something that can just be easily trained.
By your logic, explain why we can't buy a new Stradivarius today. Obviously we dealt with the problem of just training someone else to do the same job throughout history by your own admission. It surely isn't lack of demand so I must not be looking in the right places. Where can I buy one?
We can TODAY by means of technology. There was a 200 year gap where we couldn't. And had it been something life-threatening (like maintaining a dam) instead of just producing music, we would've been up a creek without a paddle.
Of course. When a foreign army invade your country, then proceed to criticize your infrastructure, they make themselves difficult to listen to. Even if they are right. If Iraqis had concerns wouldn't they involved third party inspections from non-American firms?
But I won't be surprised to wake up tomorrow to learn that there's a humanitarian crisis in Iraq.
I don't know what the solution is, but that area of the world just cannot find peace.
Iraq was an urbanized country with effective national healthcare, homegrown industries, plenty of agriculture and natural resources and a high standard of living relative to its neighbors before the Gulf War. However, it is true that Saddam Hussein did significant damage to the country's economy by engaging in genocide and the devastating Iran-Iraq war. His brutality in suppressing anyone he thought was opposing him was truly awful. Still, it needs to be kept in mind that the current day Iraqi economy in shambles is significantly the work of sanctions that did nothing to weaken the totalitarian regime's grip on power and an invasion that devastated the country, replaced the regime with a new kleptocratic government, and sold many of the country's resources to international entities.
Inevitably the sanctions will hurt the general populace more than the people in power. However, that might reduce the popularity of the leader and ultimately help their downfall, perhaps.
As the article says, the dam would break very quickly without giving enough warnings.
According to wikipedia the dam produces 1052MW. Let's call it 1GW. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosul_Dam
According to quora you need about 10000m2 or one 1ha to produce 1MW. So 1000 * 10000m2 = 10km2 to produce 1GW.
I wonder how big the lake is? Could solar panels installed in the drained lake - theoretically - provide the same or more energy than the dam?
Of course energy storage is a major part of water power and it is not taken into account above.
On the other hand a decentralized power grid is one of the major advantages of solar (especially in an unstable country) and that is not taken into account either.
It's also there to regulate the flow of the river, which commonly floods the surrounding, crop-growing region.
So wouldn't a much smaller dam be sufficient for flood regulation?
Also you'd need a battery bank to hold half a days worth of electricity. You could try pumped storage... oh wait this is kinda the problem here isn't it, so that's not happening.
Theoretically a drought would have more sunny days and less water, so solar and dam do loosely speaking work together although the coupling isn't that tight for a long river.
The only thing I'd like to be explained more thoroughly: what actually is this dam? I.e., how does it work? Going to wikipedia I see a whole list of different types of dams, and it is not clear to me, what does this specific construction in the article actually do, and how its failure would cause a tsunami-like wave.
It sounds rhetorical and impossible at first glance if the evidence including satellite measurements and field observations weren't so definitive. Preppers don't sound so insane at first but they're probably not thinking about sustainable semi/off-grid living in a radically-altered climate.
The quote is: "the dam had been built to survive an aerial bombardment. (In fact, during the Gulf War, American jets bombed its generator, but the dam remained intact.)"
(A dam with bad air defense ought to be an easy target, considering all the emphasis the Americans puts into getting through lots of cement -- and that dams were bombed already during WWII.)
Edit: The shocking part was how the US found out about how much the sanctions had damaged the country -- and then poured billions into fixing it. The US politicians might waste even more than my native ones.
"According to Article 56 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, “works or installations containing dangerous forces, namely dams, dikes and nuclear electrical generating stations, shall not be made the object of attack, even when these objects are military objectives, if such attack may cause the release of dangerous forces and consequent severe losses among the civilian population.”
In February, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad issued a warning of the consequences of a breach in the dam. For a statement written by diplomats, it is extraordinarily blunt. 'Mosul Dam faces a serious and unprecedented risk of catastrophic failure with little warning,' it said. Soon afterward, the United Nations released its own warning, predicting that 'hundreds of thousands of people could be killed' if the dam failed. Iraq’s leaders, apparently fearful of public reaction, have refused to acknowledge the extent of the danger. But Alwash told me that nearly everyone outside the Iraqi government who has examined the dam believes that time is running out: in the spring, snowmelt flows into the Tigris, putting immense pressure on the retaining wall.
If the dam ruptured, it would likely cause a catastrophe of Biblical proportions, loosing a wave as high as a hundred feet that would roll down the Tigris, swallowing everything in its path for more than a hundred miles. Large parts of Mosul would be submerged in less than three hours. Along the riverbanks, towns and cities containing the heart of Iraq’s population would be flooded; in four days, a wave as high as sixteen feet would crash into Baghdad, a city of six million people. 'If there is a breach in the dam, there will be no warning,' Alwash said. ..."
"In the language of hydraulic engineering, the process eroding the foundation is known as “solutioning.” If that problem is not addressed, what happens next is “piping”: water begins to travel between the voids, moving horizontally beneath the dam."
"Schnittker told me, “Once piping begins, there is no going back. In twelve hours, the dam is gone.”"
IMO, this is the scariest part of this. It's hard to make good engineering decisions in general. It's nearly impossible when there is no accurate picture of the situation.