March 8, 2010 Turkey Earthquake

Updated 03/09/2010

At 02:32 UTC (4:32 AM local time) on March 8, 2010, Eastern Turkey was hit by a 6.1 M earthquake. The epicenter was near Bingol, Turkey, 390 miles east of Ankara. Although the quake was not as strong as others in the news, many houses collapsed and 51 people were killed. The main building material in the area is mud bricks, which do not stand up well to earthquakes. The government pledged to provide safer houses, but despite a long history of earthquakes and previous similar pledges, this area has yet to get any. It is customary for people to keep their livestock on the ground floor of their houses and live upstairs. When houses collapsed, there was also a toll taken on the animals, which provide a significant portion of people's income.

The quake was caused by the stresses resulting from the collision of the Arabian Plate with the Eurasian Plate. In this process much of Turkey, the Anatolian block, is being squeezed off to the west. We see the quakes as a reflection of the plates of Earth's crust being jostled, bumping into each other, rubbing against each other and in the process knocking down buildings and causing so much suffering. Turkey has seen many devastating quakes over the years. In 1999, a quake in a different part of the country showed that even good building don't help if they aren't enforced.

(See the Plate Tectonics page for more information on these processes.) The US Geological Survey (USGS) is an invaluable resource in understanding and tracking earthquakes. See the USGS summary of this quake.

See also the following news stories:

* Strong earthquake hits eastern Turkey(BBC 3/8/10)

*Turkey pledges safer homes after quake(AP 3/8/10)