While speaking at the “Are We Ready for an Earthquake” conference organized at Tekirdağ Namık Kemal University, Japanese earthquake expert Yoshinori Moriwaki said that Turkey could experience up to a 8.5 magnitude earthquake. According to reporting by Karar from Oct. 23, Moriwaki also said that while Turkey’s earthquakes are less frequent and severe than countries like Japan, Turkey ranks third in the world in earthquake casualties.
“Your fault line can cause a 8.5 magnitude quake”
Moriwaki said there were six tectonic plates that affect earthquakes in Turkey. “There is Anatolia, Africa, Black Sea—six in total. They all move separately,” he said. “Yours starts from Nepal and the Himalayan region, comes through Georgia, and then goes to Greece, Italy and Spain. That is the North Anatolian Fault Line.
“This [fault line] could cause a maximum 8, maybe 8.5 magnitude earthquake. For example, ours starts from inside South America, goes to North America and Alaska, and then goes to Japan, Philippines and Taiwan. This fault line is expected to have huge 9 or even 9.5 magnitude earthquake. You are a bit more lucky than us.”
“As a Turk myself, I am ashamed”
Saying that he is very often asked whether Japan or Turkey is more of an earthquake country, Moriwaki stated, “I’ve looked into this. Earthquakes of more than 5.5 magnitude are considered medium strength [in Turkey]. The recent Silivri earthquake was medium strength, but that’s normal for Japan.
“I looked at how many earthquakes of more than a 5.5 magnitude occur in one year. Of course I also looked at more than one year—I added 10 years together and took the average. The result was that Turkey was sixth and Japan was fourth in the world. China is number one, but China is huge.”
“Turkey is twice Japan’s size. So we should also divide by the total area. When we do that, Japan is sixth and Turkey is 17th. Yes, there are earthquakes but not so many.”
“The biggest earthquake recorded in Turkey was the 7.9 magnitude Erzincan quake. Japan had a 9-magnitude quake. When magnitude goes up one point, it means that it is 32 times more powerful. In Turkey, you are 32 times more lucky than us, that is, if you build normal, proper buildings. They don’t have to be extremely protected like in Japan. You don’t have to put extra iron inside.”
“But unfortunately I must say, when we look at earthquake casualty numbers, Turkey suddenly becomes third in the world. I have been living in Turkey for 29 years. Therefore, I am ashamed as a Turk. I am ashamed as an architect and as a construction engineer. Japan is seventh in the world, but tsunamis are included as well.”
“In your country, everyone gathers in three cities”
Having been a part of the construction team of the world’s longest suspension bridge Akashi-Kaikyo in Japan, Moriwaki said: “When the 2,023-meter-long Çanakkale bridge is complete in the 2023 centennial of the republic, Turkey will have the world’s longest bridge, not us.”
Talking about the similarities and differences between Japan and Turkey, Moriwaki stated: “Japan is a country of 4 main islands but there are 2,000 small islands. We don’t have flat land, only islands and mountains. We don’t have flat ground, therefore we have to build skyscrapers.”
“Turkey has twice the area but half the population we have. This means if you have one person per square meter, we have four. But in your country everyone gathers in İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir and you build skyscrapers. There are flat spaces in Konya region.”