Turkey: Earthquake M 6.8

In the Middle East of Turkey the earth shook with a magnitude of 6.8. The hypocenter was at a depth of 15 km. The epicenter manifested itself 18 km north of the village Çüngü, where about 5500 people live. The earth tremor occurred at 17.55 UCT. Reports on the damage balance are not yet available. However, earthquakes of this magnitude may have caused great damage to the old buildings in the rural area of Anatolia. There were and are aftershocks.

Update 25.01.2020: The fears that there would be far more victims than last night have come true. Meanwhile, the media are reporting at least 21 fatalities and almost 1000 injured. 30 people are still missing and are very likely buried under rubble. The province of Elazig in the district of Sivrice has been particularly badly affected. The quake was practically felt in large parts of Turkey and in neighbouring countries. Even in Israel the earthquake was still felt.

The quake occurred at the East Anatolian Fault Zone. It forms a border between the Anatolian Plate and the Arab Plate. It is one of the most dangerous earthquake zones. Lighter earthquakes are commonplace here. One of the last stronger earthquakes occurred in 2010 and had a magnitude of 6.0.

Taal: Seismic high, SO2 low

The situation on the Taal is still exciting. Yesterday and today the VAAC registered one ash cloud each, whose ascent heights could not be determined. The seismic activity is still high. The Taal network recorded 486 tremors in the last 24 hours. The strongest one had a magnitude of 2.7 and was not noticed by local residents. The seismic activity is probably caused by rising magma. The ground deformations are correspondingly large. Especially in the southwest and north of the caldera there are ground elevations which are probably related to the inflation of magmatic fluids. In the eastern part of the caldera, however, the ground has been sinking.

Sulphur dioxide emissions are disproportionately low, at only 224 tonnes per day. One would expect at least 10 times the current value. Philippine volcanologists speculate about plugs in the production vents that prevent the gas from escaping. However, such plugs would not only block the sulphur dioxide, but also impair the entire gas exchange. The result would be an enormous increase in pressure in the earth’s interior. Alternatively, the soil deformations could not be caused by magma, but by other fluids. Water would be one possibility. This would also be an answer to the question where the disappeared water of Lake Taal has gone: Last week the lake level dropped a few centimetres.