Friday 30 October 2020

Nineteen confirmed deaths after Earthquake between the Greek island of Samos and the Izmir Peninisula, Turkey.

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 7.0 Earthquake at a depth of 21.0 km, about 15 km to the north of the island of Samos and a similar distance to the south of the Izmir Peninsula, slightly after 2.50 pm in Turkey and slightly after 1.50 pm in Greece (slightly after 11.50 pm GMT) on Friday 30 October. The Earthquake causes several buildings to collapse in the Turkish city of Izmir, where seventeen deaths and 703 injuries have been confirmed so far. Two fatalities have been confirmed on Samos, a pair of teenagers struck by a collapsing wall, and several islands in the area were hit by a tsunami wave, causing damage to properties.

The approximate location of the 30 October 2020 Samos Earthquake. USGS.

The are where the Earthquake occurred lies on the boundary between the Anatolian Plate, to the north, the Aegean Sea Plate (underlying the Peloponnese, Attica, The Cyclades Islands, Crete, the Dodecanese Islands and Turkey to the southeast of the Taurus Mountains) to the west and the African Plate to the south. Northern Greece and the north coast of Turkey lie on the Eurasian Plate. Both countries are highly prone to earthquakes because of this.

Rescue workers attempting to free people from a collapsed building in Izmir, Turkey, following an Earthquake on 30 October 2020. EPA.

To the east 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.

Simplified map of the plate movements of the eastern Mediterranean. Univeriteit Utrecht.

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.

Collapsed buildings in the Turkish city of Izmir following a Magnitude 7.00 Earthquake on 30 October 2020. CNN.

Witness accounts of Earthquakes can help geologists to understand these events, and the structures that cause them. The international non-profit organisation Earthquake Report is interested in hearing from people who may have felt this event; if you felt this quake then you can report it to Earthquake Report here.

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