The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck southern Turkey early Monday was the strongest the country has experienced in more than 100 years, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
An equally powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake in eastern Turkey in 1939 killed more than 30,000 people, the US Geological Survey said.
Cal Lang, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, told CNN that the area where Monday’s quake struck is prone to seismic activity.
“It’s an earthquake zone. It’s a very large fault line, but this earthquake was bigger than anything they’ve experienced in recent memory,” Long said.
“The magnitude of the shaking felt at the surface depends both on the amount of energy released, the size of the earthquake, and how far below the surface the energy is released. So if it’s close to the surface, if it’s a shallow earthquake, it’s very dangerous.”
Earthquakes of this magnitude are rare, averaging fewer than five per year anywhere in the world.
“What’s really unusual here is that it’s a very large earthquake and it’s also close to the surface,” Long said.
Some background: Turkey is no stranger to strong earthquakes. The country has seen seven earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater in the past 25 years, but Monday’s quake was the strongest. It was also the strongest earthquake to hit the world since 2021, when a magnitude 8.1 quake hit remote areas near the South Sandwich Islands in the South Atlantic, causing no damage.