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Seismic Hazard in TURKEY

Turkey is located in an active seismic zone[1], making it one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world. The country is situated at the junction of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates[5], which are constantly colliding and causing seismic activity.

The largest and most devastating earthquakes in Turkey's history have occurred as a result of this tectonic activity. In 1999, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck the city of Izmit[2], causing widespread damage and killing over 17,000 people. In 2011, another earthquake of magnitude 7.2 struck the eastern city of Van[3], killing over 500 people and injuring thousands more.

To mitigate the risks posed by earthquakes, the Turkish government has implemented a number of measures, including strict building codes and regular earthquake drills. Additionally, the government has been investing in earthquake early warning systems, which can provide crucial seconds of advance notice before an earthquake strikes, allowing people to take cover and minimizing casualties.

Despite these efforts, the potential for earthquakes in Turkey remains high[4], and it is important for individuals and communities to be prepared and aware of the steps they can take to protect themselves. This includes having an earthquake plan, having emergency supplies on hand, and knowing what to do during and after an earthquake.

The tectonic plates in Turkey[5] are part of the larger system of tectonic plates that make up the Earth's lithosphere. These plates are constantly moving and interact with one another, causing earthquakes and other geological events[5].

In Turkey, the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collide, creating a complex and active seismic zone. This collision is responsible for the formation of the mountain ranges in the region, including the Taurus, Anatolian, and Armenian Highlands.

The tectonic activity in Turkey is also responsible for the formation of several major faults[5], including the North Anatolian Fault[5] and the East Anatolian Fault[5]. These faults are areas of weakness in the Earth's crust, and can cause large earthquakes when they slip.

Understanding the tectonic plates in Turkey[5] is important for understanding the risks posed by earthquakes in the region. By studying the location and behavior of these plates, scientists can better predict where earthquakes are likely to occur and how large they may be. This information can help decision-makers and communities prepare for and respond to earthquakes, minimizing the potential for damage and loss of life[5].

Kahramanmaraş M 7.8 earthquake, Feb 6, 2023


On February 6, 2023, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck southern and central Turkey and northern and western Syria, with a maximum Mercalli intensity of XI. Nine hours later, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake occurred in Kahramanmaraş Province. The earthquakes caused widespread damage and tens of thousands of fatalities, making it the deadliest seismic event in modern Turkey's history and the deadliest earthquake worldwide since the 2010 Haiti earthquake. It was also one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in the Levant. The earthquakes were caused by shallow strike-slip faulting, resulting in more than 2,100 aftershocks. As of February 19, over 47,400 deaths have been confirmed, with over 41,000 in Turkey and over 6,400 in Syria. The earthquakes are estimated to have caused US$84.1 billion worth of damage, ranking them as the fourth-costliest earthquakes on record. Survivors have been at risk of hypothermia due to the freezing temperatures in the area. The earthquakes are the deadliest natural disaster in Turkey's modern history.


  1. Akkar, S., Azak, T., Çan, T. et al. Evolution of seismic hazard maps in Turkey. Bull Earthquake Eng 16, 3197–3228 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10518-018-0349-1
  2. Pınar, A., Üçer, S., Honkura, Y. et al. Spatial variation of the stress field along the fault rupture zone of the 1999 Izmit earthquake. Earth Planet Sp 62, 237–256 (2010). https://doi.org/10.5047/eps.2009.12.001
  3. Burcak Basbug Erkan, A. Nuray Karanci, Sibel Kalaycıoğlu, A. Tolga Özden, Idil Çalışkan, Gamze Özakşehir; From Emergency Response to Recovery: Multiple Impacts and Lessons Learned from the 2011 Van Earthquakes. Earthquake Spectra 2015;; 31 (1): 527–540. doi: https://doi.org/10.1193/060312EQS205M
  4. Bayrak, E., Yılmaz, Ş., Softa, M. et al. Earthquake hazard analysis for East Anatolian Fault Zone, Turkey. Nat Hazards 76, 1063–1077 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-014-1541-5
  5. Uzel, T., Eren, K., Gulal, E. et al. Monitoring the tectonic plate movements in Turkey based on the national continuous GNSS network. Arab J Geosci 6, 3573–3580 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12517-012-0631-5

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