Friday, 1 March 2013

Istanbul Earthquake Threat

It has been a very long time since I last posted, so sorry for that. Now lets get started....

The North Anatolian fault is an active seismic zone that runs right across Turkey, unlike some earthquakes which seem highly random, a pattern has emerged along this fault. This has led scientists and seismologists to propose a theory known as an 'earthquake storm.' This theory suggests that along a plate boundary, one earthquake can trigger another because the stress is transferred along the fault system.

The fault runs right across Turkey and since the 1939 earthquake in Erzincan which killed nearly 33,000 people (magnitude 7.9) there have been many earthquakes- all progressing further west. After that event there have been 11 additional events, all have been above magnitude 6.5. In the months after the last earthquake in 1999, seismologists have forecasted that the next place in danger close to the fault is Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey.

The fault does not go directly through Istanbul, as it runs under the Sea of Marmara but it runs close enough to pose a huge threat. The worrying part is that Istanbul is dangerously vulnerable to any earthquake, it is an ancient city with almost no buildings that would be classed as earthquake proof. So the combination of a high population density and poor structural could spell out disaster for Istanbul.

Istanbul faces a huge future crisis and it is not a matter of if but when it happens. The death toll could be in the region of 200,000 to 300,000, due to extensive building collapse and fires from burst piping. Geologists have allowed the city of Istanbul time to prepare but I fear that it is inevitable that most of the city will be unprepared. We cannot yet predict when it will occur, it could be tomorrow, or it could be 30 years, my guess would be just as good as anyone's.