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California's Oroville Dam Could Be Built On Shaky Ground

Ruins of the main spillway at Oroville Dam reveal a blend of "fresh" (blue-gray) rock and "weathered" (reddish-brown) rock underneath. (Calif. Dept. of Water Resources)
Ruins of the main spillway at Oroville Dam reveal a blend of "fresh" (blue-gray) rock and "weathered" (reddish-brown) rock underneath. (Calif. Dept. of Water Resources)

Engineers at Oroville Dam in northern California are about to start rebuilding two giant spillways that collapsed after heavy rains in February. State water officials also promise a full “forensic review” of the near-catastrophic failures, which forced mass evacuations.

As Craig Miller (@voxterra) of Here & Now contributor KQED explains, that includes a hard look at the geology underlying the spillways, something that appears to have gotten short shrift when the dam was built 50 years ago.

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