Environmental Science

The Big Earthquake Had Been “Overdue” in Turkey. Then Why Couldn’t we Predict It?

The Big Earthquake Had Been “Overdue” in Turkey. Then Why Couldn’t we Predict It?

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake of early Monday morning struck southeast Turkey, close to the Syrian border. Buildings that had already sustained damage were then destroyed by aftershocks. The number of fatalities shortly surpassed a thousand.

According to many geologists, an earthquake of this size has long been “overdue” in this region, one of the planet’s most seismically active regions.

Although a sizable earthquake was anticipated to occur in this area at some point, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, no scientist has “ever predicted a significant earthquake.” “We don’t know how and we don’t anticipate ever finding out in the near future. According to our hazard mapping, USGS scientists can only predict the likelihood that a large earthquake would happen in a certain area during a given period of time.” Only seconds of notice is provided by even the most optimistic earthquake models.

In this episode, host Emily Kwong speaks with geologist Wendy Bohon and NPR science writer Geoff Brumfiel about the science behind earthquake detection and why earthquake prediction is such a challenging topic.

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Liz Metzger, Indi Khera, and Rebecca Ramirez produced this episode. Gabriel Spitzer and Viet Le edited it. Berly McCoy and Anil Oza verified the information. James Willetts was the audio engineer.