Earthquake Report: Turkey!

We had a couple of earthquakes in western Turkey today (in the Aegean Sea offshore of the Island of Lesbos, part of Greece). The M 6.3 earthquake shows evidence for extension (normal fault), based on the moment tensor (read below).

The tectonics here are dominated by the compressional tectonics related to (1) the Alpide Belt, a convergent plate boundary formed in the Cenozoic that extends from Australia to Morocco and (2) the North Anatolia fault, a strike-slip fault system that strikes along northern Turkey and extends into Greece and the Aegean Sea.

There is a series of normal faults in this region of the north Aegean Sea and today’s earthquakes are likely associated with that extensional regime. The M 6.3 epicenter plots near the Magiras fault, though the strike of the fault is different from the orientation of the moment tensor. Perhaps the fault is not optimally aligned to the modern tectonic strain. There was an earthquake on 1949.07.23 that had a similarly oriented fault plane solution (showing northeast-southwest extension), which probably occurred on the Northern Chios fault. See below (Papazachos et al., 1998).

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake.

I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I also include USGS seismicity from 1917-2017 for earthquakes with M ≥ 6.0.

  • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely.
  • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
  • I include faults included in two fault databases. Faults in Italy are from the Instituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia Database of Individual Seismogenic Sources (DISS; Basili et al., 2008; DISS Working Group, 2015). This DISS is available online here. The faults in Greece are from the Greek Satabase of Seismogenic Sources (GreDaSS; Caputo et al., 2012). The GreDaSS is available online here.

    I include some inset figures in the poster.

  • In the upper right corner is a regional tectonic map from Dilek and Sandvol (2009). This shows all the major tectonic plate boundary faults, as well as some of the major intraplate faults for this region. Reverse/Thrust faults are labeled with triangles on the upthrown (hanging wall) side of the fault. strike slip faults show relative motion arrows on either sides of the fault. The different plates and microplates are colored. I place a cyan star in the general location of today’s earthquake (also placed in the other inset figures).
  • In the upper left corner is a map that shows focal mechanisms for historic earthquakes in this region. Note the focal mechanism for the 1949 earthquake and compare this with the M 6.3 earthquake moment tensor from today.
  • In the lower right corner I include a larger scale view of the seismicity and faults displayed in the main map. I here also include the fault planes from the active fault databases (orange rectilinear polygons). These polygons show how different faults dip in different directions. The strike slip faults have more narrow polygons becuase they dip more vertically than the normal and thrust/reverse faults. I label the two faults mentioned above (possibly related to the 2017 M 6.3 and 1949 M 6.5 earthquakes), the Magiras and Northern Chios faults (Caputo et al., 2012).
  • In the lower left corner is a figure from Ersoy et al. (2014). This shows their interpretation of the geodynamics of the Aegean Sea. They hypothesize that this region is rotating in a clockwise fashion, leading to extension in western Turkey and the northern Aegean Sea. The 1949 and 2017 earthquake fault plane solutions (focal mechanisma and moment tensors) are oriented correctly with this model.

  • Here is the tectonic map from Dilek and Sandvol (2009).

  • Tectonic map of the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean region showing the main plate boundaries, major suture zones, fault systems and tectonic units. Thick, white arrows depict the direction and magnitude (mm a21) of plate convergence; grey arrows mark the direction of extension (Miocene–Recent). Orange and purple delineate Eurasian and African plate affinities, respectively. Key to lettering: BF, Burdur fault; CACC, Central Anatolian Crystalline Complex; DKF, Datc¸a–Kale fault (part of the SW Anatolian Shear Zone); EAFZ, East Anatolian fault zone; EF, Ecemis fault; EKP, Erzurum–Kars Plateau; IASZ, Izmir–Ankara suture zone; IPS, Intra–Pontide suture zone; ITS, Inner–Tauride suture; KF, Kefalonia fault; KOTJ, Karliova triple junction; MM, Menderes massif; MS, Marmara Sea; MTR, Maras triple junction; NAFZ, North Anatolian fault zone; OF, Ovacik fault; PSF, Pampak–Sevan fault; TF, Tutak fault; TGF, Tuzgo¨lu¨ fault; TIP, Turkish–Iranian plateau (modified from Dilek 2006).

  • Here is a great map from Ersoy et al. (2014) that shows the geologic map of the region. Faults are shown also. Today’s earthquakes happened in the northwest corner of the figure 2 inset rectangle.

  • Tectonostratigraphic units and major tectonic elements of the Aegean Extensional Province (compiled from1/500,000 scaled geological maps of Greece (IGME) and Turkey (MTA), Okay and Tüysüz, 1999; Ring et al., 2001, 2010; Candan et al., 2005; van Hinsbergen et al., 2005; Ersoy and Palmer, 2013). CRCC: Central Rhodope, SRCC: Southern Rhodope, KCC: Kazdağ, CCC: Cycladic, SAC: South Aegean (Crete) core complexes. KKD: Kesebir–Kardamos Dome. MEMC1 and MEMC2 refer to first- and second-stage development of theMenderes Extensional Metamorphic Complex (MEMC). VİAS: Vardar–İzmir–Ankara suture zone, NAF: North Anatolian Fault Zone.

  • This is the Ersoy et al. (2014) map showing their interpretation of the modern deformation in the northern Aegean Sea and western Turkey.

  • Geological map showing the distribution of the Menderes Extensional Metamorphic Complex (MEMC), Oligocene–Miocene volcanic and sedimentary units and volcanic centers in the Aegean Extensional Province (compiled from geological maps of Greece (IGME) and Turkey (MTA), and adapted from Ersoy and Palmer, 2013). Extensional deformation field with rotation (rotational extension) is shown with gray field, and simplified from Brun and Sokoutis (2012), Kissel et al. (2003) and van Hinsbergen and Schmid (2012). İzmir–Balıkesir Transfer zone (İBTZ) give the outer limit for the rotational extension, and also limit of ellipsoidal structure of the MEMC. MEMC developed in two stages: the first one was accommodated during early Miocene by the Simav Detachment Fault (SDF) in the north; and the second one developed during Middle Miocene along the Gediz (Alaşehir) Detachment Fault (GDF) and Küçük Menderes Detachment Fault (KMDF). Extensional detachments were also accommodated by strike-slip movement along the İBTZ (Ersoy et al., 2011) and Uşak–Muğla Transfer Zone (Çemen et al., 2006; Karaoğlu and Helvacı, 2012). Other main core complexes in the Aegean, the Central Rhodope (CRCC), Southern Rhodope (SRCC), Kesebir–Kardamos Dome (KKD) and Cycladic (CCC) Core Complexes are also shown. The area bordered with dashed green line represents the surface trace of the asthenospheric window between the Aegean and Cyprean subducted slabs (Biryol et al., 2011; de Boorder et al., 1998). See text for detail.

  • This is a great figure showing another interpretation to explain the extension in this region (slab rollback and mantle flow) from Brun and Sokoutis (2012).

  • Mantle flow pattern at Aegean scale powered by slab rollback in rotation around vertical axis located at Scutary-Pec (Albania). A: Map view of fl ow lines above (red) and below (blue) slab. B: Three-dimensional sketch showing how slab tear may accommodate slab rotation. Mantle fl ow above and below slab in red and blue, respectively. Yellow arrows show crustal stretching.

  • The following three figures are from Dilek and Sandvol, 2006. The locations of the cross sections are shown on the map as orange lines. Cross section G-G’ is located in the region of today’s earthquake.
  • Here is the map (Dilek and Sandvol, 2006). I include the figure caption below in blockquote.

  • Simplified tectonic map of the Mediterranean region showing the plate boundaries, collisional zones, and directions of extension and tectonic transport. Red lines A through G show the approximate profile lines for the geological traverses depicted in Figure 2. MHSZ—mid-Hungarian shear zone; MP—Moesian platform; RM—Rhodope massif; IAESZ— Izmir-Ankara-Erzincan suture zone; IPS—Intra-Pontide suture zone; ITS—inner Tauride suture zone; NAFZ—north Anatolian fault zone; KB—Kirsehir block; EKP—Erzurum-Kars plateau; TIP—Turkish-Iranian plateau.

  • Here are cross sections A-D (Dilek and Sandvol, 2006). I include the figure caption below in blockquote.

  • Simplified tectonic cross-sections across various segments of the broader Alpine orogenic belt.

  • (A) Eastern Alps. The collision of Adria with Europe produced a bidivergent crustal architecture with both NNW- and SSE-directed nappe structures that involved Tertiary molasse deposits, with deep-seated thrust faults that exhumed lower crustal rocks. The Austro-Alpine units north of the Peri-Adriatic lineament represent the allochthonous outliers of the Adriatic upper crust tectonically resting on the underplating European crust. The Penninic ophiolites mark the remnants of the Mesozoic ocean basin (Meliata). The Oligocene granitoids between the Tauern window and the Peri-Adriatic lineament represent the postcollisional intrusions in the eastern Alps. Modified from Castellarin et al. (2006), with additional data from Coward and Dietrich (1989); Lüschen et al. (2006); Ortner et al. (2006).
  • (B) Northern Apennines. Following the collision of Adria with the Apenninic platform and Europe in the late Miocene, the westward subduction of the Adriatic lithosphere and the slab roll-back (eastward) produced a broad extensional regime in the west (Apenninic back-arc extension) affecting the Alpine orogenic crust, and also a frontal thrust belt to the east. Lithospheric-scale extension in this broad back-arc environment above the west-dipping Adria lithosphere resulted in the development of a large boudinage structure in the European (Alpine) lithosphere. Modified from Doglioni et al. (1999), with data from Spakman and Wortel (2004); Zeck (1999).
  • (C) Western Mediterranean–Southern Apennines–Calabria. The westward subduction of the Ionian seafloor as part of Adria since ca. 23 Ma and the associated slab roll-back have induced eastward-progressing extension and lithospheric necking through time, producing a series of basins. Rifting of Sardinia from continental Europe developed the Gulf of Lion passive margin and the Algero-Provencal basin (ca. 15–10 Ma), then the Vavilov and Marsili sub-basins in the broader Tyrrhenian basin to the east (ca. 5 Ma to present). Eastward-migrating lithospheric-scale extension and
    necking and asthenospheric upwelling have produced locally well-developed alkaline volcanism (e.g., Sardinia). Slab tear or detachment in the Calabria segment of Adria, as imaged through seismic tomography (Spakman and Wortel, 2004), is probably responsible for asthenospheric upwelling and alkaline volcanism in southern Calabria and eastern Sicily (e.g., Mount Etna). Modified from Séranne (1999), with additional data from Spakman et al. (1993); Doglioni et al. (1999); Spakman and Wortel (2004); Lentini et al. (this volume).
  • (D) Southern Apennines–Albanides–Hellenides. Note the break where the Adriatic Sea is located between the western and eastern sections along this traverse. The Adria plate and the remnant Ionian oceanic lithosphere underlie the Apenninic-Maghrebian orogenic belt. The Alpine-Tethyan and Apulian platform units are telescoped along ENE-vergent thrust faults. The Tyrrhenian Sea opened up in the latest Miocene as a back-arc basin behind the Apenninic-Maghrebian mountain belt. The Aeolian volcanoes in the Tyrrhenian Sea represent the volcanic arc system in this subduction-collision zone environment. Modified from Lentini et al. (this volume). The eastern section of this traverse across the Albanides-Hellenides in the northern Balkan Peninsula shows a bidivergent crustal architecture, with the Jurassic Tethyan ophiolites (Mirdita ophiolites in Albania and Western Hellenic ophiolites in Greece) forming the highest tectonic nappe, resting on the Cretaceous and younger flysch deposits of the Adria affinity to the west and the Pelagonia affinity to the east. Following the emplacement of the Mirdita- Hellenic ophiolites onto the Pelagonian ribbon continent in the Early Cretaceous, the Adria plate collided with Pelagonia-Europe obliquely starting around ca. 55 Ma. WSW-directed thrusting, developed as a result of this oblique collision, has been migrating westward into the peri-Adriatic depression. Modified from Dilek et al. (2005).
  • (E) Dinarides–Pannonian basin–Carpathians. The Carpathians developed as a result of the diachronous collision of the Alcapa and Tsia lithospheric blocks, respectively, with the southern edge of the East European platform during the early to middle Miocene (Nemcok et al., 1998; Seghedi et al., 2004). The Pannonian basin evolved as a back-arc basin above the eastward retreating European platform slab (Royden, 1988). Lithospheric-scale necking and boudinage development occurred synchronously with this extension and resulted in the isolation of continental fragments (e.g., the Apuseni mountains) within a broadly extensional Pannonian basin separating the Great Hungarian Plain and the Transylvanian subbasin. Steepening and tearing of the west-dipping slab may have caused asthenospheric flow and upwelling, decompressional melting, and alkaline volcanism (with an ocean island basalt–like mantle source) in the Eastern Carpathians. Modified from Royden (1988), with additional data from Linzer (1996); Nemcok et al. (1998); Doglioni et al. (1999); Seghedi et al. (2004).
  • (F) Arabia-Eurasia collision zone and the Turkish-Iranian plateau. The collision of Arabia with Eurasia around 13 Ma resulted in (1) development of a thick orogenic crust via intracontinental convergence and shortening and a high plateau and (2) westward escape of a lithospheric block (the Anatolian microplate) away from the collision front. The Arabia plate and the Bitlis-Pütürge ribbon continent were probably amalgamated earlier (ca. the Eocene) via a separate collision event within the Neo-Tethyan realm. BSZ—Bitlis suture zone; EKP—Erzurum-Kars plateau. A slab break-off and the subsequent removal of the lithospheric mantle (lithospheric delamination) beneath the eastern Anatolian accretionary complex caused asthenospheric upwelling and extensive melting, leading to continental volcanism and regional uplift, which has contributed to the high mean elevation of the Turkish-Iranian plateau. The Eastern Turkey Seismic Experiment results have shown that the crustal thickness here is ~ 45–48 km and that the Turkish-Iranian plateau is devoid of mantle lithosphere. The collision-induced convergence has been accommodated by active diffuse north-south shortening and oblique-slip faults dispersing crustal blocks both to the west and the east. The late Miocene through Plio-Quaternary volcanism appears to have become more alkaline toward the south in time. The Pleistocene Karacadag shield volcano in the Arabian foreland represents a local fissure eruption associated with intraplate extension. Data from Pearce et al. (1990); Keskin (2003); Sandvol et al. (2003); S¸engör et al. (2003).
  • (G) Africa-Eurasia collision zone and the Aegean extensional province. The African lithosphere is subducting beneath Eurasia at the Hellenic trench. The Mediterranean Ridge represents a lithospheric block between the Africa and Eurasian plate (Hsü, 1995). The Aegean extensional province straddles the Anatolide-Tauride and Sakarya continental blocks, which collided in the Eocene. NAF—North Anatolian fault. South-transported Tethyan ophiolite nappes were derived from the suture zone between these two continental blocks. Postcollisional granitic intrusions (Eocone and Oligo-Miocene, shown in red) occur mainly north of the suture zone and at the southern edge of the Sakarya continent. Postcollisional volcanism during the Eocene–Quaternary appears to have migrated southward and to have changed from calc-alkaline to alkaline in composition through time. Lithospheric-scale necking, reminiscent of the Europe-Apennine-Adria collision system, and associated extension are also important processes beneath the Aegean and have resulted in the exhumation of core complexes, widespread upper crustal attenuation, and alkaline and mid-ocean ridge basalt volcanism. Slab steepening and slab roll-back appear to have been at work resulting in subduction zone magmatism along the Hellenic arc.
  • Here is another cross section that shows the temporal evolution of the tectonics of this region in the area of cross section G-G’ above (Dilek and Sandvol, 2009).

  • Late Mesozoic–Cenozoic geodynamic evolution of the western Anatolian orogenic belt as a result of collisional
    and extensional processes in the upper plate of north-dipping subduction zone(s) within the Tethyan realm. See text
    for discussion.


  • Basili R., G. Valensise, P. Vannoli, P. Burrato, U. Fracassi, S. Mariano, M.M. Tiberti, E. Boschi (2008), The Database of Individual Seismogenic Sources (DISS), version 3: summarizing 20 years of research on Italy’s earthquake geology, Tectonophysics, doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2007.04.014
  • Brun, J.-P., Sokoutis, D., 2012. 45 m.y. of Aegean crust and mantle flow driven by trench retreat. Geol. Soc. Am., v. 38, p. 815–818.
  • Caputo, R., Chatzipetros, A., Pavlides, S., and Sboras, S., 2012. The Greek Database of Seismogenic Sources (GreDaSS): state-of-the-art for northern Greece in Annals of Geophysics, v. 55, no. 5, doi: 10.4401/ag-5168
  • Dilek, Y. and Sandvol, E., 2006. Collision tectonics of the Mediterranean region: Causes and consequences in Dilek, Y., and Pavlides, S., eds., Postcollisional tectonics and magmatism in the Mediterranean region and Asia: Geological Society of America Special Paper 409, p. 1–13
  • DISS Working Group (2015). Database of Individual Seismogenic Sources (DISS), Version 3.2.0: A compilation of potential sources for earthquakes larger than M 5.5 in Italy and surrounding areas., Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia; DOI:10.6092/INGV.IT-DISS3.2.0.
  • Ersoy, E.Y., Cemen, I., Helvaci, C., and Billor, Z., 2014. Tectono-stratigraphy of the Neogene basins in Western Turkey: Implications for tectonic evolution of the Aegean Extended Region in Tectonophysics v. 635, p. 33-58.
  • Papazachos, B.C., Papadimitrious, E.E., Kiratzi, A.A., Papazachos, C.B., and Louvari, E.k., 1998. Fault Plane Solutions in the Aegean Sea and the Surrounding Area and their Tectonic Implication, in Bollettino Di Geofisica Terorica Ed Applicata, v. 39, no. 3, p. 199-218.
  • Wouldloper, 2009. Tectonic map of southern Europe and the Middle East, showing tectonic structures of the western Alpide mountain belt. Only Alpine (tertiary) structures are shown.

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