LONDON — A powerful aftershock struck southern Turkey on Monday, in what has been a series of tremors to hit the region since the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake earlier this month.
The death toll for both Turkey and Syria has been steadily climbing since Feb. 6, with fatalities now surpassing 50,000. According to statistics from the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, 15 million people across 10 different provinces in Turkey have been affected by the major quakes and subsequent tremors.
Over the course of three weeks, Turkey has experienced several earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.6 or higher. To make sense of the continued tragedies there, Yahoo News spoke with Ebru Bozdag, an associate professor of geophysics at the Colorado School of Mines.
“The primary reason for earthquakes is the relative movement of tectonic plates at the surface,” Bozdag said.
“The Earth, very roughly, has four major layers. From surface to the center: crust, mantle, outer and inner cores. The crust is broken into rigid tectonic plates, which float on top of the mantle due to the convection currents in the mantle. As the plates move relative to each other, earthquakes happen at plate boundaries. But we also observe some seismic activity inside tectonic plates as well.
“Another reason for earthquakes is related to mantle plumes and associated volcanic activities which can occur inside tectonic plates,” she explained, “such as the type of earthquakes seen in Hawaii, which is located almost in the middle of the Pacific Plate.”
Why has Turkey experienced so many earthquakes this month?
Turkey is located in one of the most seismically active regions on Earth,” Bozdag said. “Due to the northward push of the Arabian Plate and the subduction [when one plate moves under another and into the mantle] in the Mediterranean Sea, the Anatolian Plate is trying to escape the west, performing a counterclockwise