Research, Technology

Lithospheric plates in Turkey have shifted by 3 meters - what does this mean and what threatens?

Scientists have long known that the territory of Turkeylocated in a seismically hazardous zone - at the junction of two lithospheric plates. For example, the German Research Center for Geological Sciences (GFZ) in Potsdam has been conducting seismic monitoring in this area since the 1980s. The data showed that the risk of earthquakes is extremely high in the entire region around the Sea of ​​Marmara. Moreover, over the past quarter century, Turkey has already had seven earthquakes with a magnitude of 7 or more. However, the earthquake that occurred on February 6, 2023 was an extraordinary seismological event not only for Turkey, but for the whole world, which was swept by a wave of earthquakes. But what is the reason for this and how much does it threaten with consequences in the future not only for Turkey, but also for other regions?

In Turkey, the lithospheric plates have shifted by more than 3 meters

What are lithospheric plates and why do earthquakes occur?

Earth, unlike many other planetssolar system, has not a monolithic crust, but many separate lithospheric plates that drift in a viscous mantle. Usually they move a few centimeters a year, which is normal. But sometimes these plates collide with each other.

As a rule, after the collision of the plates beginput pressure on each other, that is, tension arises between them, which increases until it begins to exceed their strength. As a result, a fault occurs or one of the watered begins to go under the other. That is, at this moment there is a discharge of voltage, and as a result of which the plates suddenly begin to move. At the same time, those same destructive shocks occur on the surface of the earth.

An earthquake occurs when the lithospheric plates move relative to each other.

For this reason, the most seismically dangerousare considered areas that are located at the junction of two lithospheric plates or at their edge. An example is Turkey, most of which is on the Anatolian Plate, while the southwest is on the Arabian Plate. Between them there is a deep tectonic fault.

What happened to the tectonic plates in Turkey

Seismologists said a few years ago thatlithospheric plates in Turkey are, in fact, linked. Therefore, the earthquake was only a matter of time. As experts note, the Arabian plate has been pressing on the Anatolian one for hundreds of years, as a result of which tension accumulates. Since there were no powerful earthquakes in Turkey for a long time, a lot of energy has accumulated.

When this energy was released, the plates partedalong a fault 150 km long, and within a few seconds they moved up to 3 meters, and in some places even more. That is, Turkey, in fact, has moved southwest relative to Syria, as reported by Professor Carlo Doglioni, President of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology.

The shift of the lithospheric plates is clearly visible in the deformation of the railway in Turkey

According to the latest Italianseismologists, the displacement of plates relative to each other occurred not only in the horizontal plane, but also in the vertical one. Part of Turkey's territory has sunk by 5-6 meters, as a result of which the country is now also threatened with flooding.

According to experts, the released energy,that caused an earthquake, is equal in strength to the explosion of 300 medium atomic bombs. There has never been a sudden earthquake of such power in Turkey since the time of studying seismology.

What threatens the shift of lithospheric plates?

“Charged” junction of two lithospheric plates“discharged”, you can say “shot” occurred, which means that all the worst is already behind. But is it really over? Not really. As we recently told, earthquakes of such power are not limited to one push. Aftershocks, or aftershocks, can last for days, months, or even years. But, fortunately, their strength is weakening each time.

As a result of the displacement of the Arabian and Anatolian plates, a wave of earthquakes swept around the world

But most of all the public around the worldfrightened by reports of earthquakes, which simultaneously began to occur in various parts of the planet, on different continents. What is it connected with? After such earthquakes, seismic waves arise that go around the Earth several times. They can trigger seismic activity in other regions that are not at all connected with the lithospheric plates that caused the earthquake. But the most unpleasant thing is that they are able to provoke volcanic activity.

However, to predict the possible consequences of suchearthquakes, scientists can not. As a matter of fact, even earthquakes themselves cannot be predicted, not to mention the consequences of seismic waves. Therefore, it remains only to observe the situation and hope for the best.

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Finally, we recall that the current earthquake inTurkey, although extremely powerful, is far from the most powerful and destructive on record. You can learn more about the most destructive earthquakes at this link.