Turkey is currently going through a massive seismic event, with its onset occurring on Monday (February 7, 2022), in which a total of three seismic activities were registered. Yesterday, another earthquake of 5.6 magnitude struck the central region of Turkey. The three tremors on the first day were felt both in Turkey and Syria.

The first earthquake, which registered a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale, is reported to have had its epicentre near Nurdağı, which is a district of the Gaziantep Province in the southeastern region of Turkey, and it sits very close to the Syrian border. 

The epicentre of an earthquake is the geographical point on the Earth’s surface that lies directly above the focus point, which is the subterranean location where the seismic activity occurs. The focus point is also known as the hypocenter. It is worth mentioning that the epicentre is where the seismic waves are most intense and where the tremor exhibits the greatest magnitude. As a result, the damage is likely to be the greatest. In the present case, the epicentre of the seismic event is said to be in the region of Nurdağı.

Turkey’s geographic location within a seismically active zone makes it one of the most earthquake prone countries in the world.  The country lies at the Anatolian Plate, which is at the intersection of three tectonic plates, the African, Eurasian, and Arabian plates, and frequent tectonic interactions between these plates make this region an active seismic zone. The recent earthquake was the result of the movement of the African and Arabian plates against the Eurasian plate, causing the Anatolian plate to be extruded towards west.

The recent seismic event was a result of tectonic plate movement, specifically the collision of the African and Arabian plates with the Eurasian plate, leading to the westward displacement of the Anatolian plate
The recent seismic event was a result of the collision of the African and Arabian plates with the Eurasian plate, leading to the westward displacement of the Anatolian plate.

The focus point (the Anatolian plate, which Turkey is on) was at the tri-junction of these three tectonic plates and its impact was felt across northern Syria, northern Cyprus, and southeastern Turkey.  The earthquake has resulted in significant loss of life, with a reported death toll of over 11000 individuals, and has also caused widespread damage to infrastructure, including the collapse of numerous structures in the affected areas. 

Aid and relief supplies have been dispatched from various nations. While the majority of the international aid was directed towards Turkey, Russia is likely to provide assistance directly to its ally, Syria. Although this highlights the fact that the northern part of Syria has also been hit hard by this earthquake, given the ongoing conflict in the country, many countries may be hesitant to send aid. Not to mention the current situation in war-torn Syria might present logistical challenges to any countries for the delivery of aid even if they offered to help. 

One interesting thing about tectonic plates is that they do not move in one specific direction. Their movement is driven by the convective flow of material within the Earth’s mantle, which results in a slow and continuous motion of the plates in whatever direction.  This motion, in turn, can trigger a variety of geological events, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and the creation of new oceanic crust, depending on the type of plate movement, such as collision, divergence, or sliding.