Yesterday’s earthquake “moved” Turkey three meters to the southwest and caused aftershocks (repeated shocks) that may not subside for years.
On Monday morning, a major earthquake struck southern Turkey, killing thousands of people. His tremors were felt even in Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece, Israel.
Although earthquakes are not uncommon in this part of the world, yesterday’s is considered the strongest and deadliest in Turkey in decades. It has already caused the displacement of the lithospheric plates, and experts predict new shocks around the world.
seismically active zone
Earthquakes in Turkey are not uncommon. The country is located at the intersection of three tectonic plates: Anatolian, Arabian and African. The Arabian is moving north, which is why the Anatolian plate, on which Turkey is located, is being pushed to the west. The movement of tectonic plates creates pressure on fault zones at their boundaries. It is the sudden release of this pressure that causes earthquakes and earth tremors.
Why was the earthquake so destructive?
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Turkey was significantly larger than those that hit the area earlier, according to the US Geological Survey. Therefore, during yesterday’s earthquake, a very large amount of energy was released.
Modern seismologists use the moment magnitude scale, which is the amount of energy released by an earthquake (the Richter scale is obsolete, although it is sometimes misquoted in the media).
This scale is non-linear: each step up represents a release of 32 times the previous energy. This means that magnitude 7.8 actually releases about six thousand times more energy than the more moderate magnitude 5 earthquakes that typically occur in the region.
“We tend to think that the energy of an earthquake comes from the epicenter, but in fact it is associated with movement along the fault line. The stronger the earthquake, the more the fault line moves,” said Jenny Jenkins from the Department of Earth Sciences at Durham University.
Seismologist Ross Stein, CEO of catastrophe modeling company Temblor, cited two other reasons why the February 6 aftershocks were so devastating. According to him, yesterday’s earthquake was associated with a break in the fault, which was relatively shallow – about 18 kilometers below the Earth’s surface, which made the movement of the surface more intense. The second reason is a rather long section of the shock – about 400 kilometers.
Yesterday’s earthquake caused a geological shift that moved the lithospheric plates by three meters, said Professor Carlo Doglioni, president of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV).
Doglioni said that the earthquake occurred at the junction of the East Anatolian, Arabian and African plates.
“One of the large plates of the earth’s crust that stretches the length of Turkey has shifted. This is one of the most active fault lines in the Middle East, along with the Dead Sea fault line through Jordan, Israel, Lebanon and Syria, one of which separates the Arabian Peninsula from Africa In other words: Turkey appears to have shifted southwest relative to the Arabian Plate,” he said.
The professor added that this three-meter change in location is only an estimate at the moment, exact data can be given after studying satellite images. Doglioni also stressed that the earthquake in Turkey is considered extremely strong.
The USGS has already recorded more than a hundred aftershocks in the region. Over the past 24 hours, more than a thousand earthquakes have occurred in the world, including 539 with a magnitude of more than 3.0. The most powerful earthquake of magnitude 6.0 occurred on February 6 in the Turkish city of Kahramanmarash. The last shock of magnitude 4.2 as of 13:30 on February 7 was also recorded in the area.
Experts expect aftershocks and new earthquakes to continue for some time.
“This whole area, all parts of the Earth will slowly adjust, break, tear and come to a new equilibrium,” said Michael Steckler, a geophysicist from Columbia University (USA).
The Italian professor Doglioni generally admits a protracted “seismic epidemic”,
“Which can last days, maybe months, if not years, as happened in some cases in the past. It is impossible to predict, but until the accumulated energy is released, the phenomenon will not stop,” he told Italy 24.
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