Sunday 6 December 2015

Injuries reported after Magnitude 5.5 Earthquake in Bingöl Province, Turkey.

Several people have reportedly been injured following an Earthquake in Bingöl Province in eastern Turkey on Thursday 3 December 2015. The United States Geological Survey reported the quake as having a Magnitude of 5.5 and occurring at a depth of 6 km beneath Bingöl Province slightly before 1.30 am local time (slightly after 11.30 pm on Wednesday 2 December GMT). All of the injuries are thought to have occurred as people evacuated buildings, there are no reports of any direct injures or damage associated with the event.

The approximate location of the 3 December 2015 Bingöl Province Earthquake. Google Maps.

Bingöl Province lies at the boundary between the Eurasian Plate to the north and east, the Anatolian Plate to the west and the Arabian Plate to the south. The Arabian Plate  is being pushed north and west by the movement of the African Plate, further to the south. This leads to a zone of tectonic activity within the province, as the Arabian and Anatolian plates are pushed together, along the East Anatolian Fault, and past one-another, along the Dead Sea Transform.

This movement also leads to a zone of faulting along the northern part of Turkey, the North Anatolian Fault Zone, as the Anatolian Plate is pushed past the Eurasian Plate, which underlies the Black Sea and Crimean Peninsula  (transform faulting). This is not a simple process, as the two plates constantly stick together, then break apart as the pressure builds up, leading to Earthquakes, which can be some distance from the actual fault zone.

The northward movement of the African and Arabian Plates also causes folding and uplift in the Caucasus Mountains, which separate Georgia from Russia. Again this is not a smooth process, with the rocks sticking together, then moving sharply as the pressure builds up enough to break them appart, which can also lead to Earthquakes in the region.

 Plate movements and fault zones around the Anatolian Plate. Mike Norton/Wikimedia Commons.

Witness accounts of Earthquakes can help geologists to understand these events, and the structures that cause them. If you felt this quake, or were in the area but did not (which is also useful information) then you can report it to the British Geological Survey here.

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