Academic Minute Podcast

Sylvain Barbot, University of Southern California Dornsife – Is the Seismic Crisis over now for Turkey?

On USC Dornsife Week: Predicting earthquakes would save many lives.

Sylvain Barbot, associate professor of earth sciences, says one region that needs to prepare for another tremor.

Dr. Sylvain Barbot studied earthquake physics and tectonic geodesy at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (University of California at San Diego), and, as a postdoc, at the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Barbot was a Nanyang Assistant Professor and National Research Fellow at the Earth Observatory of Singapore and the Asian School of the Environment. He is now an Associate Professor at the University of Southern California where he conducts research on the physics of friction, fault dynamics, and lithospheric deformation during the seismic cycle.

Is the Seismic Crisis over now for Turkey?

My colleagues and I examined the earthquakes that struck Eastern Turkey on February 6, 2023 that resulted in the loss of over 50,000 lives and the collapse of more than 100,000 structures.

Using remote sensing techniques, we precisely mapped the area of the rupture along the fault and at great depths. What we found really puzzled us.

A section of the fault displays an intriguing characteristic—it remained unbroken and locked, indicating a buildup of forces that could potentially unleash yet another destructive earthquake.

The seismic crisis in Turkey really isn’t over. Our study revealed where the next major earthquake may happen, including the probable epicenter, estimated strength, and the areas most susceptible to damage. It didn’t reveal, however, when it will occur.

Nevertheless, the population residing in this region needs to be prepared for an earthquake of magnitude 6.8. In addition, the scientific community can take advantage of this impending seismic event to conduct a monitoring experiment. By closely observing how an earthquake initiates and concludes, we hope to enhance our understanding of these geological phenomena.

Seismic events of such magnitude result from the gradual shifting and slipping of tectonic plates. Over the span of decades, and even centuries, these plates accumulate energy as they press against one another. Eventually, the release of this pent-up energy manifests itself as seismic waves traveling through the Earth’s crust.


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