A devastating earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria. It is a seismically active part of the world known for great earthquakes. (Stthe first broadcast of all that is to be held on Dec. 6. 2023..
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The earthquake that struck Turkey this week did not surprise many seismologists who looked at the country and its fault. So why wasn’t the area more prepared? NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel has more.
GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: To understand what just happened, here’s a big picture. The Arabian Peninsula marches northward into the Eurasian Plate, and the whole nation of Turkey sinks into it. Michael Steckler is at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.
MICHAEL STECKLER: Arabia is slowly moving north and colliding with Turkey. But Turkey moved from the road to the west.
BRUMFIEL: This earthquake occurred at the junction of several faults involved with that tectonic thrust.
STECKLER: It’s a pretty busy and complicated area.
BRUMFIEL: But the Turkish seismologists suspected that one day there would be a great earthquake in this region.
FATIH BULUT: This is not surprising to us.
BRUMFIEL: Fatih Bulut is a seismologist at Bogazici University in Istanbul. Bulut says that stress has been building in this part of Turkey for hundreds of years. His team and others had predicted the magnitude of the earthquake when they had no results. Motion is the type that occurs when two parts of the earth slide against each other. As a result, the damage spread along the fault line.
BULUT: It is a great thing. we know Similar 10 states are affected, constitutionally affected, in Turkey.
BRUMFIEL: Turkey and Syria have been at the epicenter of earthquakes for millennia, including the quake that leveled the Syrian city of Aleppo in 1138. Turkey now has seismic codes to try and keep buildings standing. But Bulut says that because this area has not been hard for centuries, it is quite possible to anticipate some of the building codes.
BULUT: Sometimes there are older things built before these rules.
BRUMFIEL: Steckler adds that he thinks some construction in Turkey is getting around the rules.
STECKLER: I know, certainly in Istanbul there is a lot of illegal construction that goes on in that – and people not following building codes.
BRUMFIEL: Strong aftershocks continue to rock the country. Steckler says he expects them to continue for a while.
STECKLER: That whole area – all the parts of the earth will slowly settle and break down and break down and reach a new equilibrium.
BRUMFIEL: While the humans above are fighting they encounter the devastation of this mighty move.
Geoff Brumfield, NPR News.
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