Researchers of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (Germany), together with colleagues from France and Turkey, have now been able to demonstrate for the first time with direct measurements on the seafloor that considerable tectonic strain has built up again on the North Anatolian fault below the Sea of Marmara. "It would be sufficient to trigger another earthquake with magnitudes between 7.1 to 7.4," says geophysicist Dr. Dietrich Lange of GEOMAR. He is the lead author of the study published today in the international journal Nature Communications.
The North Anatolian fault zone marks the boundary between the Eurasian and Anatolian plates. "Strong earthquakes occur when the fault zone becomes locked. Then tectonic strain accumulates, and the seismic energy is released in an earthquake," explains Dr. Lange. The last time this happened was in 1999 at a section of the North Anatolian fault near Izmit, about 90 kilometers east of Istanbul.
Strain - Build-up - Fault - Zones - Land
Tectonic strain build-up along fault zones on land has been regularly monitored for years using GPS or land surveying methods. This is not possible in seabed fault zones due to the low penetration depth of the GPS satellite signals under water. However, the section of the North Anatolian fault that poses the considerable threat to the Istanbul metropolitan region is located underwater in the Marmara Sea.
Up to now, it has only been possible to extrapolate, for example using land observations, whether the plate boundaries there are moving or...
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