Relatives of victims douse a fire next to the debris of a collapsed building in Adiyaman, Turkey, February 9, 2023. Elias Ekengin / AFP via Getty Images
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey on Monday, causing a devastating death toll of nearly 24,000 people.
The US, especially along the West Coast, is highly susceptible to large earthquakes.
Here’s where they might be and how to prepare for them.
A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey and Syria on Monday night, in what is being recorded as the countries’ worst natural disaster in recent memory – a reminder of the devastating tolls of strong earthquakes when regions are low-lying.
Alex Hatem, a research geologist at the United States Geological Survey, says the country, especially along the west coast, is also prone to earthquakes of large magnitude because the country has several faults – a fracture between two very large rocks. . , told Insider.
“We are always monitoring the seismic network, which is called the Global Seismic Network,” Hatem said. “Of course, that includes the United States as well as everywhere else on Earth. And we know in the US that there are many places where we can get an earthquake this big.”
Studying fault lines and earthquake history can give geologists and seismologists clues about where the next big earthquake might occur.
Turkey, for example, sits at the nexus of several major and minor tectonic plates, making the country a highly seismically active region, John Louis, professor of geophysics at the University of Nevada, Reno, told Insider. The last time such a big earthquake hit Turkey was in 1939, in which about 33,000 people died.
The combination of fault lines and a sparsely populated area, outdated construction practices and a years-long civil war in Syria affected the region’s infrastructure, leaving both countries in a particularly vulnerable position.
“It struck on one of the worst prepared areas within Turkey and certainly in a war zone in Syria,” Louie said. “There’s no way to be prepared, so it really is a terrible catastrophe.”
There is no standard measure of what makes an earthquake a “Big One,” but there are several US states that could experience tremors on the magnitude of the Turkey earthquake.
Here’s where the biggest earthquakes can occur in the US and what you can do to deal with them.
Downtown Los Angeles Skyline. AP Photo/Jay C. hong
Hatem said the west coast, including California, is capable of the greatest magnitude events.
The state sits on the San Andreas Fault, a 750-mile split between two plates – the Pacific and North American plates – sliding past each other.
Hatem said past earthquakes give researchers an idea of what the fault is capable of.
He cited the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco and the 1857 earthquake at Fort Tejon in Southern California, both of which had a magnitude of 7.9.
Hatem said it is impossible to say when the next big event will happen, but it is inevitable.
“We know how many times these earthquakes have happened in the past,” she said. “We know they happen on the order of hundreds of years. But we can’t really say, ‘Well, 100 years after the last earthquake we’d expect the next earthquake.’
Because California is better equipped with up-to-date building codes and standards, the impact will not be as large as the earthquake in Turkey but it can still be devastating.
According to a 2008 USGS report that simulated a “shakeout scenario”, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake could kill 1,800 people in Southern California, with most of the deaths concentrated in Los Angeles County.
About 50,000 people may be injured and between 500,000 and 1 million may be displaced from their homes.
Downtown skyline in Portland, Oregon. Don Ryan / AP
Hatem said that above the San Andreas Fault is the Cascadia Subduction Zone.
It is a convergent plate boundary in which the oceanic plate is subducting under the northernmost parts of Washington, Oregon and California. For comparison, the San Andreas fault is composed of plates moving laterally.
The Cascadia Fault is Oregon’s most active subduction zone, according to the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, and produces 8 to 9 earthquakes every 450 to 500 years on average.
The last time an earthquake of this magnitude hit the state was in 1700.
According to the State Department, there are several other faults in Oregon that generate magnitude 5 to 6 earthquakes.
Seattle skyline. David Ryder / Getty Images)
Washington is also vulnerable to the Cascadia subduction zone.
Harold Tobin, a director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, explained that since the state is located on fault lines, which are similar to the Turkey Fault in that they are shallow in the Earth’s crust, the largest earthquakes will come from the Cascadia Fault. Kuo Radio Station.
Although it is uncertain when the “big one” will arrive.
Tobin told Kuo, “We don’t think it happens very often, other than every few centuries. But, we don’t know.”
Patrick J. Andres / Getty Images
Near the southern coast of Alaska is the Alaska subduction zone, Hatem said, in which the Pacific Plate is being pushed beneath the state.
According to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Earthquake Center, “Every year, the Pacific Plate pushes a few inches toward Alaska, which is generally considered part of the North American Plate.”
In 1964, a magnitude 9.2 earthquake struck south-central Alaska, making the event the largest earthquake in North American history and the second largest worldwide.
Midwestern and Eastern United States
USGS map showing high risk areas in the US. United States Geological Survey
Although the West Coast is the most vulnerable to “The Big One”, there are certain regions throughout the Midwest and Eastern US that experience earthquakes more frequently than other regions.
According to Michigan Tech, “the most earthquake-prone areas include Charleston, South Carolina, eastern Massachusetts, the St. Lawrence River region and the central Mississippi River Valley.”
“Earthquakes can happen in the eastern part of the U.S. They are much less frequent than in the west,” Hatem said.
how to prepare.
The moment an earthquake strikes, the Earthquake Country Alliance recommends three steps: drop, cover and hold.
The thinking behind these steps is to reduce the risk of hitting and being hit by falling or flying objects.
As you crawl, you’ll also want to search for cover, ideally a sturdy table. If a table is not available, move to the nearest interior wall away from the windows.
Hatem said that after a major incident, there is a high probability that major facilities will be disrupted.
“I would say make sure you have enough water to last you and your family for a few days,” she said. “Some water, non-perishable food, maybe some charged battery packs, a blanket and some basic safety equipment like a flashlight would be advised.”
Louie, University of Nevada, Reno, geophysics professor, also recommends having enough resources to shelter at least 72 hours a week.
The Earthquake County Alliance has a comprehensive guide on how to secure your location before an earthquake, what emergency supplies to collect, and what to do after a major event.
Louis said Shakeout.org also shows state-by-state resources available.
“Earthquakes, at least for those of us in America who don’t live in a big apartment, if you have your own property, you can really protect yourself from earthquakes,” Louie said.
Read the original article on Insider