About 24 hours after two very strong earthquake struck south-eastern Turkey, rescue crews are still trying to free survivors from the rubble of collapsed buildings. More than 4300 people are known to have been killed in the quake, which shook the region on Monday morning evening, local time (February 6, 2023).
In Turkey, at least 2,921 people were killed and more than 15,800 others injured, according to Turkey’s head of disaster services, Yunus Sezer. In neighboring Syria, at least 1,451 people have died. According to the Syrian state news agency SANA, 711 people have died across government-controlled areas, mostly in the regions of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia, and Tartus.
Freezing temperatures and hundreds of aftershocks are hampering the work of the rescuers and making the plight of the survivors even worse.
As shown in the map below, the 7.8-magnitude earthquake at 4:17 a.m. local time, and the unusually large 7.5-magnitude aftershock nine hours later, both were in the East Anatolian Fault Zone. But there have been several extremely deadly quakes in the North Anatolian Fault Zones as well, including one in 1999 about 60 miles from Istanbul that killed about 17,000 people.
The epicenters of the quakes and aftershocks were located on the East Anatolian Fault about 400 miles east-southeast of the Turkish capital, Ankara. This fault is one of the two major earthquake zones in the country, which straddles both Europe and Asia and is an historic crossroads. In fact, Turkey is one of the seismically most active nations in Eurasia.
The cause of the dangerous seismic activity is the collision of several of the plates, which make up the surface of the earth like a giant, slowly moving jigsaw puzzle.
Much of the Asian portion of Turkey is its own plate, the Anatolian Plate. This relatively small puzzle piece is being squeezed between two giants of the plate tectonic system.
Coming from the south with a velocity of approximately one inch per year, the Arabian Plate is ramming into the Eurasian Plate, the stable platform extending along the northern edge of Turkey. In fact the Eurasian plate stretches for thousands of miles from the midocean ridge in the Atlantic Ocean into Eastern Siberia.
Caught between these two monster plates, the Anatolian block is trying to escape the enormous squeezing forces by wriggling out of their stranglehold toward the west. Like most tectonic movements, this slow inching is not smooth and slick. Instead the Anatolian Plate is scraping and lurching past its bigger neighbors on its way west towards Greece and the Aegean Sea.
In the northern regions of Turkey, this scraping motion is very similar to that taking place between the North American and the Pacific Plates here in California. It therefore leads to a strike slip fault similar to the San Andreas Fault. This major fault is called the North Anatolian Fault (NAF).
Some of the strongest quakes ever measured in Asia Minor occured along this seismic demarcation line. Among them was the most destructive quake in Turkey in the past hundred years, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake which struck the city of Erzincan in 1939, killing an estimated 33,000 people.
The eastern edge of the Anatolian Plate also scrapes past its tormentor, the Arabian Plate, forming the East Anatolian Fault (EAF). Along this line, the two blocks also move in a strike slip fashion. Monday’s quakes took place right on the EAF, starting at a depth of only 7.5 miles. While several other segments of the EAF had ruptured in recent decades, the section which broke on Monday had not experienced a significant quake for almost 100 years.
Is Istanbul next?
The Turkish metropolis of Istanbul is sitting on a so-called powder keg. Experts agree that we can expect a strong earthquake in the immediate vicinity of the city of Istanbul in the near future. This assessment is derived from the occurrence of several earthquakes in the course of Istanbul’s history, the ongoing continental drift beneath the Marmara Sea, and the fact that an area of the fault zone which at present is showing no seismic activity is located directly off the gates of Istanbul.
Many factors indicate that this area is currently locked. Then stresses are accumulated which at some stage exceed the strength of the rock and are then released within seconds creating an offset of both plates of several meters. The resulting seismic waves represent the actual thread for buildings, infrastructure and thus the local population. So it is not the question of “whether“, but of “how strong“ and “when“.
Geologists said last year during the Earthquake Week that the likelihood of a magnitude 7 tremor in Istanbul before 2030 is 64 percent. It is 75 before 2050 and 95 before 2090… So we are overdue…
Similarity to Hayward Fault in California
In a tweet, U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough likened the size of the initial earthquake in Turkey to San Francisco’s Great Earthquake of 1906, which left more than 3,000 dead and much of the city in ruin. But what about the geology?
This earthquake is close in size to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, for example.
— Dr. Susan Hough ? (@SeismoSue) February 6, 2023
This quake-free interval and the destruction which followed served as a reminder of the severe seismic hazard lurking beneath our feet here in Northern California.
The Hayward Fault, like the NAF and the EAF, a strike-slip fault caused by the lateral movement of two plates, has also not had a significant rupture since its last great temblor in October 1868.
After 15 decades of relative quiesence, a quake with a magnitude between 6.7 and 7 is very likely to happen in the next thirty years. The size of Monday’s quakes in Eastern Anatolia, 7.5-7.8 on the moment magnitude scale, exactly matches the average projected for a damaging quake on the Hayward Fault.
FUNDRAISING: KEEP STRANGESOUNDS ONLINE!… THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP! (You will get a gemstone gift for every donation above 50$!)
You should also join my newsletter…YOU WILL LOVE IT…
I recommend following Qfiles for videos, podcasts and a wide compilation of alternative news…
The following links feature products I recommend you to add to your preparedness plan to help and protect you and your family during an emergency: