Scientists raise objections to Turkey's updated earthquake map over risk areas

Scientists raise objections to Turkey's updated earthquake map over risk areas

Aysel Alp – ANKARA
Scientists raise objections to Turkeys updated earthquake map over risk areas

Scientists have raised objections to a new earthquake hazard map updated by the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey (AFAD) over concerns that the map did not revise risk areas accurately.

The Chamber of Geophysical Engineers of Turkey (CGET) said the new map and code regulation had serious deficiencies, urging authorities to correct them as soon as possible.

The chamber also applied to the Court of Cassation for the termination of some of the regulation’s clauses.

The new earthquake map of Turkey came into force on Jan. 1, along with the new earthquake code regulation.

Şerif Barış, a faculty member at Kocaeli University’s geophysics engineering department, criticized the alterations of some provinces’ risk degrees.

“For instance, in 1938, a destructive earthquake occurred in [the Central Anatolian province of] Kırşehir that led to the death of 158 people. Degrading the risk degree [of Kırşehir] is not acceptable. Likewise, [the southern province of] Adana’s Ceyhan district is not shown in the most under risk group despite generating major earthquakes. Since buildings will be erected based on a downgraded seismic zone as of Jan. 1, once an earthquake happens, these [newly established buildings] will not be resistant,” Barış said.

Barış also noted that some of the active faults are not shown on the map, stressing that all the faults that have generated earthquakes for the last 10,000 years are regarded as active faults scientifically.

“The active faults in [the northwestern province of Bursa’s district] Gemlik are not shown on the map. It is a must for the earthquake map to be updated,” he said.

The geophysics professor also criticized the quake building regulation for not including geophysical engineers as mandatory employees for contractors.

“The right information regarding the [land] ground is very important to erect quake-resistant buildings. The only and cheapest way of this is analyzing the land by using geophysical methods. However, the regulation does not include geophysical engineers [as a mandatory employee for contractors]. And as Turkey is a quake-prone country, it is possible to build quake-resistant cities by excluding professional groups that calculate the correct situation of grounds,” Barış said.

Geophysics engineer Prof. Ahmet Ercan also criticized the updated map.

“No scientist or institution can reduce the earthquake risk for Bursa, Diyarbakır, Malatya, Muğla and Van, nor can anyone increase the earthquake risk for Rize, Trabzon, and Aksaray provinces,” he said in a written statement on Jan. 23.

“This is at odds with science and facts. Such statements decrease the reliability of the institutions, and may cause lessening construction safety for an earthquake or increasing it unnecessarily,” he added.