eli5: WNY Earthquake VS. Syrian Earthquake


I was following the events of smaller earthquakes happening in Turkey yesterday evening, went to bed, and woke up to my house shaking in the greater Buffalo area. Then not even a few hours later here of another massive earthquake in Syria.

Now I know The United States Geological Survey has stated that there is no correlation and, obviously, coincidence is very possible…but I can’t **shake** this feeling that the two could be related. Can anybody explain why they *are not* related? Thanks!

In: 0

Between the East Anatolian fault zone and the North American Craton, there’s a lot of squishy rock.

Well, rock isn’t very squishy relative to other materials. But when you add up that small amount of squishiness over many millions of meters distance, there’s more than enough to isolate the slipping that results from an earthquake.

They’re all connected the same way that a storm in Korea might influence a later one in Norway – the effect is too small and too chaotic to be measured.

Nearby earthquakes are related, though. The displacement of one fault line can encourage another one to slip. This happens because they are close enough to be stiffly connected.

there are literally hundreds of Magnitude 2+ earthquakes every day. https://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/map/

Earthquakes are the product of stress built up in the crust. The crust acts a bit like elastic so as tectonic plates gradually migrate at mm per year that deformation builds up stresses. Eventually fractures fail and the sudden release of energy triggers an earthquake. Now, in a local regional area the stress rearrangement can absolutely set off chains of aftershocks for days or weeks after a big event.

Across wider areas the impact is much much less. And if you’re not on the same fault system there’s basically no interaction at all. WNY is subject to lots of small scale seismic activity based on its underlying geology. What you have here is a coincidence.

The earthquake in Turkey was on the East Anatolian fault, which is a strike-slip fault zone between the Arabian and Anatolian plates. Basically the two plates are sliding past each other, which causes earthquakes. The Buffalo quake was on the Clarendon-Linden fault system. This fault system is in western New York State, and is in the middle of the North American plate. There is no direct, physical connection between the two fault systems, and no direct, physical connection between the North American plate or the plates involved in the Turkey quake.