Hoover Dam: Scientific Studies, Name Controversy, Tourist Attraction, and Contributions to Engineering


Hoover Dam was a monumental accomplishment for its era which set new standards for post-construction performance evaluations. Many landmark studies were undertaken as part of the Boulder Canyon project which shaped the future of dam building. Some of these included: comprehensive surveys of reservoir sedimentation, which continue to the present; the discovery of turbidity currents operating in Lake Mead; the nature of nutrient-rich sediment contained in these density currents; cooperative studies of crustal deflection beneath the weight of Lake Mead; and reservoir-triggered seismicity. These studies were of great import in evaluating the impacts of large dams and reservoirs, world-wide, and have led to a much better understanding of reservoir siltation than previously existed. Hoover Dam was also the first dam to be fitted with strong motion accelerometers and Lake Mead the first reservoir to have an array of seismographs to evaluate the impacts of reservoir triggered seismicity. Along the way, there has been considerable confusion about the name of the dam, which was changed in 1931, 1933, and 1947. Most of the project documents are filed or referred to by the several names employed by Reclamation between 1928-1947. The article concludes with a brief description of the Boulder Canyon Project Reports, which have been translated into many different languages and distributed world-wide. This is followed by a summary of the unprecedented influence Hoover Dam has exerted on dam and reservoir construction, not only in the United States, but also abroad.

Meeting Name

Hoover Dam 75th Anniversary History Symposium (2010: Oct. 21-22, Las Vegas, NV)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Density Currents; Project Documents; Reservoir Constructions; Reservoir Sedimentation; Reservoir Siltations; Scientific Studies; Tourist Attractions; Turbidity Current; Dams; Lakes; Ocean Currents; Sediment Transport; Reservoirs (Water)

Geographic Coverage

Clark County, Nevada

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2010 , All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Oct 2010