Seismologists say Monday’s 7.8-magnitude quake that struck Turkey and Syria could be one of the deadliest this decade, with a crack of more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) miles) between the Anatolian and Arabian tectonic plates.
Here’s what scientists say happened below the earth’s surface and what happens after:
Where do earthquakes come from?
The epicenter was about 26 km east of the Turkish city of Nurdagi at a depth of about 18 km on the East Anatolian Fault. The earthquake radiated to the northeast, causing devastation to central Turkey and Syria.
During the 20th century, the East Anatolian Fault experienced little major seismic activity. “If we were to simply track (large) earthquakes recorded with seismometers, it would be,” said Roger Musson, an honorary research associate at the UK Geological Survey. more or less empty.”
There have only been three recorded earthquakes above 6.0 magnitude since 1970 in the area, according to the United States Geological Survey. But in 1822, a magnitude 7 earthquake hit the area, killing about 20,000 people.
How bad is this earthquake?
On average, there are fewer than 20 earthquakes above magnitude 7.0 in any given year, making Monday’s event severe.
Compared with the magnitude 6.2 earthquake that hit central Italy in 2016 and killed about 300 people, the Turkey-Syrian earthquake releases 250 times more energy, according to Joanna Faure Walker, head of the Institute for Reductions. Disaster and Risk Mitigation at University College London.
Only the two most devastating earthquakes from 2013 to 2022 had the same magnitude as Monday’s quake.
Why is it so serious?
The East Anatolian Fault is a transverse slip fault.
In it, plates of solid rock are pushing against each other through a vertical fault line, creating stress until one plate eventually slides in a horizontal motion, releasing a tremendous amount of tension that can cause earthquakes. .
The San Andreas Fault in California is perhaps the world’s most famous sliding fault, with scientists warning that a catastrophic earthquake is too late.
The initial faulting for the Turkish-Syrian earthquake started at a relatively shallow depth.
“The ground shaking would be more severe than a deeper earthquake of the same magnitude at the source,” said David Rothery, a planetary geologist at the Open University in the UK.
What types of aftershocks can be expected?
Eleven minutes after the initial quake, the area was hit by a 6.7-magnitude aftershock. A 7.5 magnitude earthquake occurred a few hours later, followed by another 6.0 magnitude earthquake in the afternoon.
“What we’re seeing now is activity spreading to neighboring faults,” Musson said. “We think the seismic will continue for some time.”
After the deadly event in 1822, the aftershocks continued into the following year.
What is the final possible death toll?
Earthquakes of similar magnitude in densely populated areas have killed thousands. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal in 2015 claimed the lives of nearly 9,000 people.
“It won’t be good,” Musson said. “It will be thousands, and possibly tens of thousands.”
The cold winter weather means those trapped under the rubble have less of a chance of survival, he added.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)
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