What caused the 2023 Turkey-Syria earthquakes?

This is a short explanation of the Turkey-Syria earthquakes as it appeared in my February 2023 newsletter.


Two magnitude 7.5-7.8 earthquakes and several thousand fore- and aftershocks struck southeastern and central Turkey and western Syria in early February of this year.

What caused these massive earthquakes?

Turkey and Syria are located in a geologically highly complex setting.

Have a look at the map: The boundary Turkey-Syria is not only a geographical border.



It also is the approximate location of the East Anatolian Transform Fault. This fault runs from southwest to northeast and marks the tectonic plate boundary of the Anatolian and Arabian plates. On the western side of the Arabian plate there is the Dead Sea Transform Fault.

Both transform faults, the East Anatolian and Dead Sea, accommodate tensions that occur because of the different movement of each tectonic plate involved. The northwestern motion of the Arabian and African plates causes the smaller Anatolian plate to escape to the west, as the Eurasian plate is blocking any other escape route.

At these transform faults, two plates move horizontally past each other, experiencing friction which causes stress. This stress is released periodically, causing earthquakes inside the Earth and on its surface.

The Turkey-Syria earthquakes were caused by faulting activity at several sites within this complex region. And this complicated setting that involves four tectonic plates (Eurasian, African, Arabian, Anatolian) is responsible for many earthquakes (and other highly interesting geodynamic processes) in the Eastern Mediterranean region.


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About the author

Daniela is convinced that gaining deep insights into planet Earth and travel destinations creates meaningful, grounding and memorable life + travel experiences. She explains fundamental geological processes that form and shape landscapes and combines these insights with philosophical and philanthropical views in her online courses, articles, and newsletter. She holds two bachelor's degrees, geosciences (B.Sc.) and business administration/tourism (B.A.), and currently studies for a master's degree in geosciences at the University of Cologne. She is the owner and founder of EarthyMe, EarthyUniversity and the Science of Travel blog and the Stories of Earth newsletter.



Anatolian Plate Vectoral - 2023 Turkey–Syria earthquake - Wikipedia


My university courses (yes, I do learn about tectonics in my program :) I know, interesting, right!! )

2023 Turkey–Syria earthquake - Wikipedia

M 7.8 - 26 km E of Nurdağı, Turkey / USGS 

Kawoosa, V. M. (2023): 10,000 tremors. How Turkey has been rattled by aftershocks since the Feb. 6 earthquake. Reuters: How the Turkey earthquake caused thousands of aftershocks (reuters.com).

Header image (Turkish flag)
Photo by Tarik Haiga on Unsplash

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