A recent study led by the University of Southern California (USC) warns that a portion of the fault from the February Turkey earthquake remains locked and intact, increasing the risk of another earthquake. The finding, published in the journal Seismica, highlights the need for continued monitoring and preparedness efforts in the region.
Future Earthquake in Turkey? Locked Fault Section Indicates Possible High-Risk Zone
A recent study led by the University of Southern California (USC) suggests that a portion of the fault from the February Turkey earthquake remains locked and intact. This finding, published in the journal Seismica, warns that an increase in friction could trigger another similar quake when the plates give way.
USC geophysicist Sylvain Barbot and his team of researchers used remote sensing to document the massive February 6 earthquake, which resulted in over 50,000 fatalities and the collapse of more than 100,000 buildings in eastern Turkey. “We don’t know the timing, but we know where it can happen,” Barbot said.
Understanding Earthquake Mechanics: Tectonic Plate Slippage
Major earthquakes are caused by the slipping of tectonic plates – slow-moving sections of the earth’s crust that press against each other, accumulating force over time. When the plates finally slip, the energy erupts in waves that travel through the earth’s crust.
The Kahramanmaraş, Turkey earthquake had a magnitude of 7.8 on February 6, followed by a 7.6 aftershock on a separate fault further west. Another 6.4 magnitude quake occurred on February 20. The data reveals seismic activity and the extent of slippage along the faults.
Pütürge District at Risk: Seismic Activity Detected
A swarm of seismic activity has been identified along the fault beneath Turkey’s Pütürge district, but no slippage has been detected. This indicates that the fault is locked, or stuck, and could slip at any time in the future.
Barbot noted that some of the collapsed buildings were “pancakes” while others were “literally pulverized,” suggesting the possibility that the earthquake produced more shaking than anticipated in building codes. “We won’t know without more research,” he said.
As a result, both the population and the scientific community must be prepared for a potential 6.8 magnitude earthquake in this region. Monitoring experiments could help researchers better understand the start and end of earthquakes and inform efforts to safeguard local communities.