Earthquake in Turkey and Syria, the ground of Anatolia has moved 3 meters

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After the earthquake of 6 February, the soil of Anatolia moved by at least three metres: it is the consequence of one of the most violent earthquakes ever recorded in Turkey. With a magnitude of 7.8, the earthquake that occurred in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria was a thousand times stronger than that of Amatrice in 2016 and 30 times stronger than that of Irpinia in 1980.

The expert: “Moving at least 3 meters”

The quake, followed by hundreds of aftershocks, was recorded by seismographs all over the world, up to Greenland, as noted by the Danish Geological Institute. The earthquake occurred in a highly seismic area, the meeting point of the East Anatolian, Arabic and African plates, with the former being crushed by the Arabic plate and pushed west towards the Aegean. One of the two major faults that cross Turkey was activated, the South-East Anatolian one, which “is one of the most active in the Middle East, together with that of the Dead Sea which crosses Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan and which separates the Arab from African”, observes the president of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (Ingv), Carlo Doglioni. And it is precisely along this fault that the two edges of the ground have moved: “In the area of ​​maximum movement there has been a shift of at least three meters”, adds Doglioni.

The causes of the move

The slip was caused by a “transpressive” movement, i.e. that along the fault the ground moved horizontally, during which a compression also occurred between the Anatolian and Arabian plates. “The displacement of three meters is a first estimate”, observes the president of Ingv and more precise measurements, “will be available as soon as we have the satellite data. At the moment we only have numerical models available”. The data is expected from the Sentinels of the Copernicus programme, of the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA) and from the Cosmo Sky-Med constellation, of the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

Sea level anomalies

About 200 kilometers long, the South-East Anatolian fault borders Syria and “runs from the Mediterranean to the North-East, almost as far as the Black Sea, rejoining with the North Anatolian fault which reaches as far as Istanbul”, says Alessandro Amato, seismologist and director of the Tsunami Center of Ingv. The fault “probably came to deform the coast. In fact, anomalies were observed in the sea level in three points, in Turkey and in Cyprus, which triggered the Tsunami alert”, Amato says. “In Italy – he adds – the arrival of a tsunami wave was expected around 6:30 in the south-eastern areas, but then the alert was closed”.