Turkey Earthquake Map Shows Cause of Devastating Strike

The devastating range of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, has been captured in a map.

The quake—which has killed hundreds of people so far—was caused by the East Anatolian Fault. On the map, the fault can be seen extending from a junction on the North Anatolian Fault.

The earthquake hit at 4.17 a.m. local time on February 6 and was felt by people living across the wider area, including the capital Ankara. It was also felt in neighboring countries like Syria, Israel and Lebanon.

Map of Anatolian Plate
Map showing main tectonic structures around the Anatolian Plate on a base taken from a snapshot from Nasa's World Wind software. Arrows show displacement vectors of the Anatolian and Arabian Plates relative to the Eurasian Plate. Mikenorton

Turkey is one of the most seismically active countries in the world as it is located between two major tectonic plates.

Chris Elders, plate tectonics and structural geology expert adjunct professor from the School of Earth and Planetary Life Sciences at Australia's Curtin University, told Newsweek: "It is an area where there's a lot of earthquakes. Turkey and that part of eastern Mediterranean sits in a bit of a vice, really, to South Africa, in particular, the Arabian tectonic plates are moving northwards, and they're colliding with the Eurasian plate to the north. That has the effect of essentially squeezing Turkey out sideways. Two big plates or two big areas of plates move towards one another. [Turkey] in the middle gets squeezed out sideways, and its that sideways movement of Turkey that causes the earthquake."

Turkey sits on the Anatolian plate, which is formed by the North Anatolian fault and the East Anatolian Fault.

The North Anatolian fault stretches across the north side of Turkey, and traditionally causes the majority of earthquakes in the country. It is 932 miles long, running from a junction with the East Anatolian fault, all the way into the Aegean Sea. It is similar in size to the San Andreas fault—a fault that runs 745 miles through California.

The East Anatolian fault is smaller than the North Anatolian, at 434 miles long.

The main difference between these two fault lines is their location. But they "work together at an angle of about 60 degrees, " Elders said.

"If you imagine taking a pip from an orange or grapefruit, it between your thumb and your finger and squeezing your finger together, the pip shoots sideways and that's basically what's happening," Elders said. "The thumb and the finger are the other plates moving towards one another and the edges of your fingers are the faults, where pip squeezes out sideways. The movement occurs the movement is accommodated on both, both of those faults. I think traditionally, larger quakes tend to occur on the north."

Even though most earthquakes happen in the northern region, several other earthquakes have occurred as a result of the East Anatolian Fault, One of the most recent was the 6.7 earthquake in Elâziğ on January 24, 2020.

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