Earthquakes – Update on Seismic Phenomena?

One of the most devastating earthquakes of recent times was observed in Turkey on 6th February 2023. On the Richter scale, the magnitude of the earthquake was 7.8. The fatal earthquake struck the areas of southern and central Turkey and some western and northern Syria areas. The danger did not bid farewell immediately as another devastating earthquake of 7.5 magnitudes on the Richter scale struck the countries none hours later. Close to 1200 aftershocks of the quake have made the condition the worst imaginable and perhaps one of the most devastating in human history. 

The last powerful Earthquake that hit Turkey was in 1939. The recent Earthquake has caused an unimaginable loss of human life and property. The center was near south-central Turkey in the area known as Gaziantep. This is quite popular as it is the home to various humanitarian camps housing Syrian refugees. Since Turkey has always been prone to these kinds of disasters, the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) is well prepared to handle the case. The government was quick in the disaster management response and received immediate help and international aid from various countries of the world. 

With thousands of people already dead and plenty more gasping for their last breath, it is vital to reflect on the fact that Turkey was the center of such a colossal disaster and why it was so deadly. Many of the aftershocks were as fatal as the earthquake. The damage and devastation were not only a result of the earthquake but the time of the quake. It occurred when most people were sleeping (dawn), and none were prepared. 

The deadliness of the event was also aggravated due to the buildings ranking extremely poor in sturdiness quotient. Syria and South Turkey have very poor architecture, which is too old and unable to resist the aftermath of such devastating earthquakes. The earthquake occurred in a place unaffected by any earthquake for the past 200 years, and people were not prepared adequately. Also, the current humanitarian crisis in Syria is so engrossing that hardly anyone has the time and resources to put up precautions for it. 

What Caused the Earthquake in Turkey?

Let us first get into the basics of earthquakes. Geographically, the Erath’s plate comprises several tectonic plates that nestle along each other. These plates always possess the inertia for dynamism, but the friction of adjacent collision prevents them from moving so frequently. But there are times when the pressure build-up across the plates is so intense that the plates jerk off and causes motion. The magnitude of the friction determines the level of the earthquake. The earthquake in Turkey was caused by the fault lines in the Syria – Turkey region. It is often geologically termed the Strike-Slip Fault. There are three significant steps for earthquakes like these to occur. The rock underneath the fault likes (weak points in the Earth’s crust) move to cause some deformations. When the force gets too high and intense, the rock fractures across the fault lines and leads to the collapse of the plates. 

Earthquake – The Geopolitical Aspect

This year is exceedingly critical for Turkey. On May 14th, the country will witness its presidential elections. The current president Tayyip Erdogan is playing a commendable role in organizing the country and saving it from the aftermath of this acute disaster. So, it will play a huge role in determining his political steps. The life of millions of Syrians and Turkey residents have changed overnight due to the earthquake. The death toll is more significant than 12,000. At least 23 million people have been severely affected, and nearly 6000 buildings have collapsed. 

This catastrophe could have long-term rippling effects on a country where more than 85 million people are already wired to economic problems. With local inflation above 57%, the country was already amidst the worst imaginable crisis because a large section of the population was not even living a quality life. A devastating Earthquake now seems to be a wrath for the citizens and the government. The current economic anxiety is stressful, and the government needs to allocate considerable funds to relieve the people.

The Turkey earthquake also speaks of a scandal of unpreparedness. It is hard to predict that such intense disasters will hit a country, but the Turkish and Syrian governments understand Turkey sits on the fault of the tectonic plates. The country is in one of the most sensitive zones of the Earth’s crust. The government has a long record of earthquake history, yet there are no specific regulations about building safety. The patchy architectural style and building safety quotient are shady. The seismologists are pro at preparing earthquake hazard maps, but the country ignored them. 

The Erdogan government could have introduced policies for building earthquake-resilient homes and buildings. At least it could have saved people from losing their homes or being buried under them. It is a tragedy that the Turkish government did not take proper measures to save the citizens. Many citizens are accusing the government of mismanagement and of the review that the government has gambled with people’s lives. Had the government enforced the building codes, people could have been saved. The earthquake and the devastation expose the gap between seismic knowledge and action. 

The whole of Turkey is vulnerable to earthquakes. Turkey has two major fault lines – the North Anatolian Fault zone and the East Anatolian fault lines. These two fault lines crisscross over each other. After the 1999 earthquake, the Turkish government levied a disaster tax to raise funds so the country could be better prepared against earthquakes. But sadly, there is no evidence that the government is utilizing this fund for better earthquake preparedness. There are serious questions about where the money is and why the country needs so many international funds. The worst imaginable scenario encompasses Turkey and Syria. The whole world awaits to witness how they overcome and manage the disaster.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *