Near the Syrian border, another earthquake struck southeastern Turkey on Monday. As of Tuesday, six people have been killed and more than 200 have been injured in the latest quake, which registered as a magnitude 6.3 — a magnitude lower than the initial, devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake and a magnitude 7.5 aftershock two weeks ago on Feb. 6.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a magnitude 6.3 is still considered strong. Additionally, as NPR previously reported, some locals were trying to reclaim belongings lost in the initial earthquake when Monday’s aftershock struck. We wondered: What are aftershocks? How long will Turkish and neighboring countries like Syria endure aftershocks before they are able to rebuild their lives? Do they have to endure aftershocks for days or years?
In order to qualify as an aftershock, an earthquake must both follow a “mainshock,” the largest earthquake to occur in the area, and occur before the area has returned to its usual background seismicity level, according to earthquake geologist Wendy Bohon. Aftershocks are common and expected, occurring up to years after an earthquake. Thus, Bohan says, they’re the only kind of earthquakes that we can predict.
After an earthquake like Feb. 6, it is “extremely common that hundreds of aftershocks occur over the next few weeks, months, or even years.”
Unfortunately, there is no technology that can accurately and precisely predict when another aftershock will occur. “I wish I could tell Syrians and Turks that they are done. It’s good. It’s over. It’s time to rebuild,” says Bohan. It is well known that the earth works in particular ways, and that aftershocks will continue to occur. And it is a traumatizing, devastating situation.”
The Short Wave podcast is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts. Are you interested in other news stories? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This episode was produced by Liz Metzger, edited by Rebecca Ramirez, and fact-checked by Anil Oza. Robert Rodriguez was the audio engineer for this episode.