Weather of Arabia - Professor of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the Canadian University of Victoria, Dr. Edwin Nissen, said that the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria was one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded on land, stressing that this type of devastating earthquake usually occurs in the oceans and not on land.
The Canadian scientist added in an interview with Anatolia that the earthquake was not expected despite Turkey's rich data, some of which date back a thousand years, and that such a huge earthquake usually only occurs every 100 years.
Kahramanmaras, Turkey - Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP
At dawn on February 6, an earthquake of 7.7 degrees struck southern Turkey and northern Syria, followed by another hours later with a magnitude of 7.6 and hundreds of violent aftershocks, killing more than 36,000 people and injuring more than 90,000 others.
The day after the earthquake, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a 3-month state of emergency in the affected states. While the Civil Defense affiliated with the Syrian opposition declared northern Syria a disaster area.
Harim, Syria - (Photo by Aaref WATAD / AFP)
In his assessment of the latest quake, Nissen said the first quake, with a magnitude of 7.7, was one of the largest land quakes ever recorded.
He added that it is probably among the 5 or 10 largest earthquakes that occur on land, so it caused great damage to the infrastructure and superstructures in the neighboring residential areas.
He pointed out that after the 1939 earthquake that struck a fault in northern Anatolia and claimed the lives of more than 30,000 people, the 2023 earthquake is the deadliest in Turkey's history.
The "East Anatolian Fault" or "East Anatolian Fault" is a term that refers to the meeting area between the Arab and African land plate and the Eurasian plate.
Regarding the earthquakes that occurred in the East Anatolia Rift Zone in the past, Nissen stated that their magnitude ranged between 6.8 and 7 degrees.
He explained that a 6.8-magnitude earthquake is 30 times smaller than a 7.8-magnitude earthquake, given the energy released.
Antakya, Turkey - (Photo by Hassan AYADI / AFP)
On the possibility of predicting the recent earthquake, Nissen said that many seismologists did not expect it, although Turkey has rich seismic data dating back a thousand years, but no one expected the earthquake to occur in this region.
He explained that earthquakes with a magnitude of more than 7 in the eastern Anatolian rift may have occurred in the 20th century and before, but this earthquake was sudden and unexpected.
He noted that the Anatolian plate is under tectonic pressure from the Arab and Eurasian plates, as the Anatolian plate is being pushed to the west, meaning that everything between the North and East Anatolia faults is being pushed to the west.
According to Nissen, this movement can cause large earthquakes like the last one every 100 years or less.
Regarding the reasons for the high losses and victims of the earthquake, the Canadian expert pointed to the meeting of a number of circumstances that contributed to this, referring to a widespread saying among seismologists, that "it is buildings that kill residents, not earthquakes."
He explained that the unqualified buildings, in addition to the earthquake that occurred at night, in the middle of winter, exacerbated the disaster and increased the number of victims.
He emphasized that the buildings in the earthquake area would not have been able to bear these strong tremors, in addition to the long period of shaking also increasing the extent of the destruction.
And he indicated that the strength of the earthquake, and the continuation of the tremor for about a minute, according to data issued by the relevant centers, led to the violent shaking of buildings.
"The buildings could have endured the aforementioned tremors if they continued for 10 seconds, but if they continued for a full minute, they collapsed," he added.
Nessen noted that Turkey is one of the countries with dangerous and active seismic faults, and that only a few places in the country are not at risk of large earthquakes.
With regard to the movement of the earth in the earthquake zone, Nissen pointed out that most of Turkey's regions are located on the Anatolian plate, which moves westward due to pressure and tectonic movement in the north and south, which caused the recent earthquake.
He added that in the event of a large earthquake, the broken fault line moves a few meters, depending on the magnitude of the earthquake.
So the recent earthquake caused a fracture along the fault that could be about 300 kilometers long, and the average movement could be about 3 metres, according to Nissen.
He explained that this distance may vary along the fault, and this was confirmed by photographs of the damaged railways and highways.
And last Tuesday, Carlo Doglioni, head of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, said that the Turkey earthquake moved the country (the Anatolian Plate) 3 meters to the west, and that it occurred in one of the two seismic fault lines that pass through Turkey.
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