What Happened Underneath Turkey?
What happened underneath Turkey and Syria wasn’t less than doomsday for the people of the Global village. It was a very sad morning for the Global Village The initial earthquake struck overnight on the East Anatolian fault line. That runs through southern turkey and it’s 7.8 on the magnitude scale. It was the largest earthquake in the region in living memory. Essentially earthquake happens in the middle of the night at about 4:00 AM in the morning while people were in bed. It was so powerful and it was felt across the region in different countries, including Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan.
The earthquake was so powerful and affected hundreds of other cities and towns. What makes this event so unusual is that nine hours after the initial Quake of 7.8 magnitudes, another huge 7.5 magnitudes Aftershock. Almost as strong as the first happened as well as being violent. The Aftershock was relatively shallow in the Earth’s crust 18 and 10 kilometers deep respectively the closer to the surface. It damaged turkey and Northern Syria very badly. They are at the junction of four tectonic plates with fault lines along their margins. The 7.6 magnitude earthquake in 1999 killed more than 17 000 lives and in 1939 more than 30 000 people died in a 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
According to President Erdogan, this is the first major disaster on the level of the last one seen in 1939. But they have the capabilities. And at the same time, Turkish officials are declaring this a level four emergency, which means they have requested international support, and international support is coming. Turkish search and rescue teams that are very experienced in dealing with this have been deployed to the earthquake zone. The military also has been deployed.
Challenges In Rescue Missions
They are facing many challenges including the weather. There’s a severe winter storm that is impacting that part of the country right now. Rescue teams from all around the world reaching to Turkey for help. There is a chance of the death toll could potentially climb into the hundreds of thousands. Right now, the search is underway for survivors trapped under giant piles of concrete. A dramatic video shows rescuers pulling a bloody toddler out of the rubble in northwest Syria. Syria is already traumatized and ravaged by the bloody civil war. The Syrian government doesn’t have the capabilities to deal with this.
They are facing an enormous challenge because of the size of this earthquake and it happened in populated areas. And major aftershocks also gave a very wide Geographic spread to the impact of this earthquake disaster. In these situations, roads and other infrastructure get damaged. This means getting around is hard Communications become difficult as 4G networks get overwhelmed. It’s also so cold in parts of turkey. At nighttime temperatures are down to minus four sometimes. Rescue teams are working very hard to get to survivors in these freezing temperatures
what happened underneath Turkey that set these deadly events in motion? Professor of geophysics at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Martin Mai said that the actual cause of those two Quakes was the earthquake that happened on a plate boundary. The earth is made up of tectonic plates and they move by Centimeters per year. A Deep process inside the Earth drives that movement. When these plates move they get stuck between each other once in a while. That stress builds up and has to be released and that is the earthquake. That happened in Turkey.
In this particular area, we have the Arabian plate moving sort of northwards. We have part of what we call the Turkey micro plate moving westwards. and then the oration plate for the North and so the Eastern Italian fault is the plate boundary between the Arabian and the Turkish microplate and that got stuck over the last centuries and but the Deep motion continued and so that’s the stress build up as described above and that causes the earthquakes.
In 1939 earthquake was not on that fault system that wasn’t a northern Italian fault. Which is up north in Turkey. Those earthquakes or the latest earthquake happened in the East Anatolian fault Zone. This move is maybe one or two centimeters per year. It’s a rough speculation that in Northern Italian fault moves typically faster by three to five centimeters per year. So, these earthquakes are the same size as in 1939. But they are associated with different tectonic plate boundaries.
Unfortunately, earthquakes are not predictable. In the 1970s and 1980s, there was great hope in the community that earthquakes would be predictable. But those hopes were shattered in subsequent years and decades. And now we say we cannot predict earthquakes. We cannot prevent earthquakes. Earthquakes will happen. And they happen because of the deep motions inside the Earth.
The only thing we can do is to prepare for earthquakes. We have to build our buildings in safe ways. In those safe seismic designs now we have mitigation plans that we can act upon. Society, politicians, and all stakeholders have to work together to prepare communities to be resilient. Because there’s no prediction there’s no prevention, only preparation to save the humanity and the Global Village