Following the deadly earthquake in the province of Elazığ that killed 41 people last month, geologist and earthquake expert Dr. Naci Görür wrote in a series of tweets that the expected major Istanbul earthquake will be at least a 7.2 on the Richter scale, with an epicenter in the Kumburgaz area of the western suburb of Büyükçekmece.
According to Görür, the 1999 Izmit earthquake — which killed more than 17,000 people and caused considerable damage in certain districts in Istanbul — and a subsequent earthquake in the province of Düzce later that year created intense pressure in the earth’s crust under the Marmara Sea. Some experts expected to the fault to be hit with another earthquake within 30 years after 1999, but since the major quake did not occur in the past 20 years, there is a greater than 50 percent risk that it will strike within the next decade, Görür wrote.
Small earthquakes are regularly felt throughout Turkey, and the major earthquake that experts believe will strike with an epicenter within the province of Istanbul will be far more catastrophic than the Izmit earthquake of 1999, given the vast population growth that Istanbul has experienced in the past several decades, the resulting surge in development, and the massive numbers of buildings not built to withstand a serious earthquake.
There are two major fault line across Turkey, the Northern Anatolian fault line, which runs from east to west and on which the 1999 earthquake occurred, and the Eastern Anatolian fault line. Since 1939, earthquakes that have struck the Northern Anatolian fault line have been responsible for more than 100,000 deaths in provinces including Erzincan, Tokat, Kastamonu, Bolu, Sakarya, and Kocaeli from earthquakes that occurred in 1939, 1942, 1943, 1957, and 1967, respectively. Those provinces run from the east to the west, indicating that the chain of earthquakes has slowly crept toward Istanbul throughout the years.