Sample Geography Paper on Earthquakes in Turkey
Earthquakes are a common phenomenon in Turkey due to the country’s geographical location. The country lies on the most seismically active spots in the world as the Eurasian plate and the African plates regularly grind into each other triggering magma movement inside the earth’s crust causing the earthquakes. Turkey lies on a landmass called the Anatolian plate which is often disturbed when the African and Eurasian plate grind against each other triggering earthquakes (Ilkisik et al. 4). Earthquakes usually result in the severe damage to infrastructure, loss of lives and property as well as the displacement of people. This paper explores how earthquakes affect Turkey.
Turkey is one of the nations mostly affected by earthquakes. The extent of damage in Turkey is often so serious that earthquake experts have insisted that houses be renovated to protect residents from the impending disaster. Earthquake is the leading cause of tragedies such as the destruction of property and loss of lives witnessed in Turkey. A recently published research shows that more than 110,000 deaths have occurred in Turkey coupled with 250,000 hospitalizations and destruction of 600,000 houses over the last 2000 years (Ilkisik et al. 1). The problems caused by earthquakes in Turkey are further aggravated by the poor quality of buildings and poor urban environment as seen in the country’s social, economic and physical deterioration (Ilkisik et al. 2). Turkey has an Uncontrolled urban growth, with a rigid planning system that has immensely contributed in aggravating the situation when earthquakes occur. As such, it should be noted that earthquakes in Turkey have become a national disaster as they continue to wreck lives daily through deaths, destruction of property and infrastructure. Consequently, their negative effects outweigh the positive ones. A report by Aljazeera in 2011 showed that an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 occurred in Anatolia killing 644 people and harming about 2500 others (Ansal et al. 6). Life in Turkey has become impossible as people continue to live in fear of earthquakes. The country has been hit with the most destructive earthquakes, yet a study still showed that the country is still going to be hit with an earthquake in the next 20 years. This has resulted in some areas in the country being left out in development projects blue print as they are the worst affected by earthquakes.
Accordingly, earthquakes affect Turkey as they cause the collapse of poorly constructed buildings. Many buildings in Turkey that do not meet building standards often collapse in the event of an earthquake. During the Izmit earthquake in 1999, many buildings collapsed due to structural failure. However, some houses toppled due to liquefaction which was caused by weakening of lakebed sediments and subsequent soil failure (Ansal et al. 12).
The other effect of earthquakes in Turkey is disruption of power. The occurrence of earthquakes often results in the collapse of buildings, which then destroy electric lines triggering power disruptions. Power disruption can lead to long-term economic problems for industries that do not have backup systems as they may be forced to close (Ilkisik et al. 7). There is also a high likelihood for fire breakouts when buildings fall on electric lines, and fires further destroy buildings. The loss of power and accumulated debris makes firefighting difficult resulting in casualties.
Death is a common occurrence in the event of an earthquake, especially in the case of those with high magnitudes. In the event of an earthquake, many people are usually trapped in houses as they sleep, and many of them die from the impact of falling buildings. For instance, in Istanbul during the 1995 earthquake, approximately 17,000 people died during the earthquake (Ozdemir 29). The town has recorded a very high rate of urbanization which has translated in the construction of many buildings of poor quality attributed to the increased population. In the case of natural disasters, the houses mostly collapse because of poor workmanship. As a result, human deaths continue to rise when earthquakes occur because of unauthorized building structures. A report released by the Chamber of Commerce in Turkey showed that as high as 65% of buildings have no permits. A very high population lives in illegal accommodation which makes disaster response difficult.
Earthquakes also trigger other environmental disasters like tsunamis, which are common in areas adjacent to water bodies when the earthquakes originate from the ocean. In such situations, earthquakes trigger waves that move towards the land and destroy buildings, killing people, and wrecking infrastructure. According to historical records, Turkey has been hit by more than ninety tsunamis in a period of over 2500 years (Ozdemir 31). In Turkey, tsunamis have been witnessed near the Marmara Sea and Turkey. In 1999 for instance, a tsunami hit Istanbul after it was triggered by the Izmit earthquake the same year. Tsunamis hinder development along the coast which would have otherwise brought income to the country. Human settlement is also adversely affected as they have to relocate each time an earthquake has been detected. Consequently, the high tides caused by earthquakes lead to flooding thereby damaging crops. Many residents of Turkey rely on farmland produce for survival through sales and subsistence consumption meaning that flooding has adverse impacts on their socioeconomic growth.
Moreover, earthquakes are one of the major causes of homelessness witnessed in Turkey. Many people are often displaced in the event of an earthquake an example being the Izmit earthquake of 1995 that left over 200,000 people homeless (Ozdemir 32). Although there were several survivors of the incident, homes were destroyed causing housing problems for most of the citizens. Many people are often forced to seek alternative and temporary settlements before the involvement of the government, the latter also using funds that could have been channeled to other sectors. People also face sanitation problems as well as the lack of water after earthquakes.
In a nutshell, there is a need for Turkey to build earthquake-safe buildings as that is the only solution to the earthquake menace. The country already lies in an earthquake zone, and a country’s geographical position cannot be changed. Instead, there is need to solve the problems that come with the earthquake. The country needs to invest in technology that will see its infrastructures built with earthquake-resistant materials. Already Turkey has plans and is committed to preventing the occurrence of earthquakes as well as addressing the challenges that accompany the same. According to a report by the World Bank, the government retrofitted 700 public buildings and provided more than 450,000 people with disaster training as at October 2013. The project made Istanbul one of the most earthquake prepared cities in the world. In the meantime, there is need to educate families to support the government project. Earthquake specialists have suggested that there is need to build new houses, buildings, and infrastructure that can withstand earthquakes. Unless this is implemented, earthquakes will continue causing significant problems to Turkey and the neighboring countries.
Ansal, A., et al. “Seismic microzonation for earthquake risk mitigation in Turkey.” 13th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Vancouver, BC, Canada. 2004.
Ilkisik, O. Metin, M. Nilay Ergenc, and Murat T. Turk. “Istanbul Earthquake Risk and Mitigation Studies.” Disaster Coordination Center, Turkey (2010): 1-8.
Ozdemir, Ozlem, and Cengiz Yilmaz. “Factors affecting risk mitigation revisited: the case of earthquake in Turkey.” Journal of Risk Research 14.1 (2011): 17-46.