Türkiye quakes not just one of country's largest but also world's, says seismologist - M5 Dergi
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Türkiye quakes not just one of country’s largest but also world’s, says seismologist

Abone Ol 

Earthquakes of this strength happening in such quick succession ‘almost unprecedented,’ says Harold Tobin

The recent earthquakes that rocked southern Türkiye earlier this week were not just the largest in the country, but also among of the largest in the world, an expert said.

Speaking to Anadolu, seismologist Harold Tobin said the two earthquakes centered in the province of Kahramanmaras were “really very large,” not only some of the largest in Türkiye, but also “on a global scale, some of the largest earthquakes in populated regions that we’ve seen, even in the past century or longer.”

Tobin, who is the director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, said he lived in Türkiye for five years as a child but did not start working on the country until after he became a seismologist.

More than 14,350 people have been killed and over 63,794 injured after two strong earthquakes jolted southern Türkiye on Monday, according to latest official figures.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes, centered in the Kahramanmaras province, have impacted some 13 million people across 10 Turkish provinces.

In neighboring Syria, the death toll has climbed to at least 3,150, with more than 5,200 people wounded.

– Magnitude greater than anticipated

Speaking about the two earthquakes, Tobin said that while earthquakes were expected in the region, their magnitude exceeded what was anticipated.

“We, the international seismological community, as well as Turkish authorities, know about the East Anatolian fault zone and the earthquakes were expected in this region. I think the size, the magnitude of this earthquake was larger than might have been anticipated, because we didn’t have a history of such a large earthquake on the eastern Anatolian fault.”

Underlining the rarity of such events where earthquakes of such strength occur within less than 24 hours of each other, Tobin said: “I think it’s been a very, very long time, probably since we’ve had seismological instruments, we haven’t seen such a such an event.”

“It’s really not unprecedented, but almost unprecedented,” he noted.

Earthquakes this strong are felt over wide areas along the fault zone, the seismologist explained, adding that aftershocks also occurred along different

Tobin said that an earthquake this big spread over a very large area on the fault line, adding that aftershocks also occurred at different points along that region.

However, the second earthquake that took place just nine hours after the first was on a distinct fault that was known but “maybe less common to have big earthquakes on.”

“The combination is really, unfortunately, a terrible tragedy, because the first earthquake was so damaging and then the second one caused the shaking of places that already had damage from the first earthquake,” he said.

– Türkiye ‘squeezed between two faults’

Tobin underlined that earthquakes are caused by the motions of tectonic plates, with Türkiye’s landmass “squeezed” between the North Anatolian and the East Anatolian faults, or dividing fractures between plates where they are “stuck together.”

“So, what happens is the fault is stuck and held together by friction, just like when you try to push a heavy piece of furniture, you know, at first it resists, it doesn’t move. That builds up the strain in the Earth’s crust,” he said.

“And then when the earthquake happens, it releases all of that in one minute or something like that.”

Monday’s earthquakes, which were the result of accumulated strain from hundreds of years of plate tectonic motion as Africa moves northward and Arabia pushes into the east, caused the Anatolian plate to shift a total of about three meters (roughly 9.8 feet).

“So yes, the several meters of motion that happened because of this fault, was actually the accumulated strain from hundreds of years of plate tectonic motion, so a few centimeters per year, adds up to meters in one earthquake.”

Abone Ol 

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