Clock ticking for Istanbul quake

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London, March 13 (ANI): Reports indicate that the clock is ticking for an earthquake to strike the city of Istanbul in Turkey.

The magnitude-6.1 earthquake that hit eastern Turkey on March 8 has provoked fresh concerns over whether Istanbul could be the next Turkish site to be hit by a major tremor - and whether it is adequately prepared should a quake strike.

According to data from the US Geological Survey, the epicentre of the recent quake was 70 kilometres from the city of Elaziq and about 625 kilometres east of Turkey's capital, Ankara.

The earthquake toppled buildings and flattened homes, injuring at least 100 people and killing 41.

Turkey is criss-crossed by faults, produced by the African plate pressing into the Anatolian block.

Most of the country is being pushed and squeezed to the west between the North and East Anatolian faults.

The Elaziq earthquake is thought to have occurred on the East Anatolian fault.

The chances that the recent quake could itself trigger a tremor in Istanbul are slim, according to Ian Main, a seismologist at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

"The stress changes at these distances are too small to expect a significant triggering effect," he told Nature News.

Nonetheless, the sprawling metropolis of Istanbul, with nearly 13 million inhabitants, has not been hit by a major quake since 1766.

A series of strong earthquakes has been progressing westwards along the North Anatolian fault - most recently at Izmit in 1999 - prompting scientists to worry that Istanbul is next in line.

According to Tom Parsons, a geophysicist with the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program in Menlo Park, California, there is a 30-60 percent chance of a magnitude 7 or greater quake close to Istanbul in the next 25 years.

Tobias Hergert of Karlsruhe University, Germany, and Oliver Heidbach of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, also in Germany, published a study earlier this year suggesting that the strain accumulating along the North Anatolian fault might be released during several earthquakes rather than in one large rupture of the whole seismic gap.

But they added that Istanbul is still at risk of a magnitude 7 or greater earthquake, depending on which fault segment ruptures. (ANI)

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