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Seismology Professor Sheds Light on Turkey-Syria Earthquake
With a climbing death toll of more than 5,000 people and thousands still missing, Turkey and Syria have been devastated by the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit the two countries this week.
Joshua Russell is an assistant professor of seismology in Syracuse University’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. He provides comments below that can be quoted directly and is available for interview.
“The magnitude 7.8 earthquake and subsequent earthquake sequence that occurred near Gaziantep, Turkey was indeed tragic. Turkey is a tectonically active region located on the Anatolian plate, which is being squeezed westward about 2 cm/yr. by the northward collision of the Arabian plate with the Eurasian plate — like pinching a watermelon seed between your fingers. Although earthquakes are quite common in this region of the East Anatolian Fault Zone, one of this magnitude is rare. To give a sense, only three earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater have occurred within 150 miles of this earthquake within the last 50 years. As of this writing, there have already been five such earthquakes within the last 24 hours. A magnitude 7.5 earthquake occurred 9 hours after the 7.8 on a different fault strand to the north.
“More work is needed to understand the potential relationship between these two powerful earthquakes, but it is plausible that the larger magnitude 7.8 earthquake changed the stress state on the neighboring fault segment, which pushed it to rupture in the magnitude 7.5 earthquake. Aftershocks (smaller earthquakes following the main shock) will continue to occur over the next several weeks to months.”
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