Classroom for Geology and Disaster

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Turkish is a very earthquake-prone area in the world because three plates join together and are surrounded by Turkish. The deadly earthquake is due to the strike-slip faults along the plate boundary. After the main shock, there are more than 30 after-shocks hits in Turkish and Syria. The neighboring country also felt the shock and great damage occurred. In history, an earthquake in Turkish happened in 2020 with a magnitude of M6.7 and in 1970 the country faced an earthquake around M6. So, there was a time gap of 22 years after a new and gigantic earthquake of magnitude M7.8 (6 Feb 2023) was observed and caused huge fatalities and damages.

Earthquake in Turkish 2023
A multistorey residential building in the Turkish city of Gaziantep is photographed in October 2022 (L) and then leveled after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Turkish that hit overnight, today (R)

A total of 2818 buildings collapsed and the people of more than 2310 died only in Turkish. The earthquake in Turkish is really devastating, the buildings are crushed to dust and the family member cannot escape from the house and died on the spot with the kids. The building was damaged to dust looking like the twin tower in the USA.

What causes the earthquake in Turkish so deadly?

The plate tectonic position was very closely joined together with three plates actively moving. Turkish is a very active region in plate tectonics. The plates Anatolia, Africa, and Arabian plates are active with each other and at the fault, accumulate stress and release energy causing the earthquake in Turkish 2023. The earthquake occurred by the strike-slip fault along the plate boundary and the Anatolian fault system. This type of strike-slip mega earthquake is very rare in world history.

The low epicenter of the main shock of 18 Km deep followed by the aftershock with a deep of 10 Km causes the earthquake in Turkish 2023  very destructive.

More than 30 aftershocks have been recorded after the main shock of M7.8 Magnitude in the earthquake in Turkish 2023. The relatively short depth of epicenter of the earthquake causes the Turkish earthquake so deadly and severe damage.

Tectonic setting of Turkish:

In the past Turkish faced earthquake several times. Among them in 2020, an M6.7 earthquake hit the country and with a 250 km radius, many earthquakes hit the country in the last 100 years.

Earthquake in Turkish
Earthquake in Turkish Red circle is the main shock and orange are the after shockes in 2023

Does the earthquake in Turkish 2023 similar with 2020?

In 2020, the earthquake was caused by the strike-slip fault along the plate boundary between the Arabian plate and the Anatolia fault system whereas in 2023 the same strike-slip fault is the responsible mechanism causing the earthquake in Turkish in 2023.  The Anatolian fault system has a history of causing the devasting earthquake in Turkish. In 1975 more than 2000 people died in Turkish with a Magnitude of M6.7.

Earthquake in Turkish Slip Magnitude 3.2m
Earthquake in Turkish Slip Magnitude 3.2m
Earthquake in Turkish
Earthquake in Turkish slip Magnitude

The reason for the huge damage to the building is the older type of buildings and not constructed following the earthquake safety code and rules, unlike the modern building of Istanbul Airport (buildings are very earthquake safety). The maximum slip of displacement is 3.2 m which is very high to collapse a building. Imagine, a chunk of the land surface is lifted up 3.2 meters and dropped 3.2 meters, hence the building will shake with a considerably high displacement amount which might cause the building to instant collapse. The devastation was really terrible. There are many videos on social media now captured from CCTV or personal mobile phones.

Was it possible to early warning before the earthquake in Turkish 2023 happened?

Basically, it does not possible to alert the people before any mega earthquake M9.1 happened. Hence, regarding the earthquake in Turkish 2023  also did not possible to make an announcement before the earthquake. But the unusual behavior of birds in the city has been observed just before the earthquake in Turkish 2023. The birds are flying randomly here and there over the building and is captured by the people’s camera. This is the only sign of the unusual behavior of the animals that can predict earthquakes.