On Monday, a major earthquake of 7.8 magnitude followed by another powerful quake destroyed large swathes of Turkey and Syria. More than 2800 people were killed in the disaster. The death toll is still rising.
Here’s what to know:
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake struck at a depth of eleven miles (18 km). It was centered near southern Turkey’s northern border with Syria.
Since the earthquake, many aftershocks have rocked both countries. Alex Hatem from the USGS, a research geologist, said that the country experienced thirteen significant aftershocks, each with magnitudes at least 5 in the initial 11 hours.
Another strong quake — magnitude 7.5 — hit Turkey nine hours after the main jolt. Scientists were still trying to determine if that was an aftershock but they concluded that both quakes are connected.
“More aftershocks are certainly expected, given the size of the main shock,”Hatem stated. “We expect aftershocks to continue in the coming days, weeks and months.”
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WHAT TYPE WAS THIS EARTHQUAKE?
According to researchers, the earthquake was caused by a strike slip quake in which two plates of the tectonic system slide horizontally past one another.
You can find different parts of the Earth. “kind of like a jigsaw puzzle,”Eric Sandvol is a University of Missouri seismologist.
These pieces collide at fault lines where plates grind together slowly. They can easily snap through each other if enough tension is present, and release a great deal of energy.
In this case, one plate moved west while the other moved east — jerking past each other to create the quake, Hatem said.
Sandvol stated that aftershocks will eventually stop being as frequent and less severe over time.
Is there a commonality between these EARTHQUAKES?
This earthquake occurred in an area of seismic activity known as the East Anatolian fault line, which has been responsible for damaging earthquakes in past.
“Almost all of Turkey is really seismically active,”Sandvol stated. “This is not something new to the country.”
Turkey was struck by another major earthquake in January 2020 — a magnitude 6.7 that caused significant damage in the eastern part of the country. A 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck Istanbul in 1999 and claimed the lives of approximately 18,000 people.
WHY IS THIS EARTHQUAKE SO DANGEROUS?
The earthquake was powerful — especially for a quake that hit on land. Margarita Segou from the British Geological Survey said that strong earthquakes usually occur underwater.
The quake also struck near densely populated areas. Gaziantep in Turkey was where the epicenter of the earthquake occurred. Gaziantep is both a provincial capital and a city.
Kishor Jaiswal (USGS structural engineer) stated that the affected areas were home to many vulnerable buildings.
Jaiswal stated that while new buildings were built in Istanbul with earthquake-safety in mind, there are many buildings older than this in southern Turkey. Rapid construction in Syria — plus years of war — may have also left structures vulnerable, researchers said.
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Officials claimed that thousands of buildings were destroyed by the earthquake. These buildings included “pancake” collapses, where upper floors of a building fall straight down onto the lower floors — a sign that the buildings couldn’t absorb the shaking, Jaiswal said.
Residents trying to flee quake-stricken regions have caused traffic jams and frozen temperatures that has hampered rescue efforts.
“This is the awful level of devastation and destruction that we would expect to see”Ilan Kelman is an expert on disasters and health from University College London.
This article was contributed by the Associated Press
The full article is available here here