Turkish institutions rejected earthquake project for east Anatolian provinces - academic

Naci Görür, a well-known professor of geology, said on Friday that Turkey’s public institutions had declined funding for a project he had prepared with his colleagues for earthquake-prone east Anatolia provinces. 

Following the 6.8-magnitude tremor that hit the eastern province of Elazığ on Friday, earthquake risks have increased for all provinces located within the Eastern Anatolian Fault (EAF) line, which stretches some 650 km from eastern Turkey's highlands to the Mediterranean, Görür said on Twitter.

The EAF, which forms the transform type tectonic boundary between the Anatolian Plate and the northward-moving Arabian Plate, could begin acting like the North Anatolian Fault (NAF) line, one of the most energetic earthquake zones in the world, Görür said.

“You know the NAF has discharged its energy in the 20th century by producing numerous earthquakes with a magnitude of 7 or over between the years 1939 and 1999 (excluding Istanbul),” Görür said on Twitter, adding that meanwhile the last over 7-magnitude quake on the EAF happened in 1875.

As a native of Elazığ, the academic said, he had for years studied earthquakes in the region and had called on authorities to prepare the province and its villages to a possible earthquake.

“But unfortunately not much has been done. Just like Istanbul,” Görür said. 

Görür said he and other academics developed a project with the participation of the governorships of eastern provinces, Bingöl, Elazığ, Malatya and Maraş, along with the support of the General Command of Mapping. 

“We applied to several institutions like TÜBİTAK, DPT, but we were rejected,” Görür said referring to Turkey's Scientific and Technological Research Council and former Undersecretariat of State Planning Organisation.

“In fact, its is well known that earthquakes will happen sooner or later on every fault line. Why are those places not taken care of when there is no earthquake?” he asked.

Many social media users on Friday shared an interview of Görür with CNN Turk four months ago after a 4.6-magnitude earthquake shook Istanbul. Görür said in the interview that an earthquake was likely to hit Sivrice district of Elazığ, the epicentre of Friday’s tremor. 

Some 17,000 people were killed in 1999, when an earthquake shook Turkey’s northwestern province of Izmit neighbouring Istanbul with a magnitude of 7.6.