15 Jun 2021
TÜBİTAK MARMARA Research Vessel Completed Its First Earthquake Voyage
Following the earthquake of magnitude 6.6 that occurred in the region between Samos Island and Kuşadası Bay on 30 October 2020 in Izmir, TÜBİTAK MARMARA Research Vessel set sail on 31 May 2021 within the scope of the “Project for Determination of Seismicity and Active Tectonic Characteristics of Faults in Kuşadası Bay with High Resolution Seabed Measurements” of the Turkish Earthquake Platform, which was established under the coordination of TÜBİTAK in order to reveal the earthquake hazard in this region and to examine the fault lines, completed its maiden voyage on Sunday, 13 June 2021 and returned to Izmir Alsancak Port.
News: İTÜ Media and Communication Office
TÜBİTAK President Prof. Dr. Hasan Mandal welcomed the crew and scientific team of TÜBİTAK MARMARA Research Vessel. Prof. Dr. Hasan Mandal gave information about the project together with Project Coordinator Assist. Prof. Gülsen Uçarkuş from ITU Eastern Mediterranean Centre of Oceanography and Limnology, Prof. Dr. Derman Dondurur from Dokuz Eylül University Institute of Marine Sciences and Technology and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Denizhan Vardar from Istanbul University Institute of Marine Sciences and Management, and expressed that we have information about the fault lines on land, but faults in the sea region between Samos Island and Kuşadası Bay should be investigated. Prof. Dr. Mandal recalled that all the stakeholders of the process, including TÜBİTAK MAM, Istanbul Technical University, Dokuz Eylül University, Istanbul University, Middle East Technical University as well as AFAD, Turkish Naval Forces Office of Navigation, Hydrography and Oceanography, established the Turkish Earthquake Platform under the coordination of TÜBİTAK, and stated that with the project conducted under the scope of this platform, studies were made by TÜBİTAK MARMARA Vessel for a duration of two weeks for identifying the seismicity of the faults in the region and the active tectonic characteristics of the region. Prof. Dr. Mandal noted that during the voyage, measurements were made with bathymetric analyzes and acoustic data, and all the preliminary information needed to chart the region was obtained, and said that this information is very valuable as it is obtained for the first time.
A road map will be created in the second voyage
Expressing that the information obtained is shared with the rectors and administrators of the relevant universities, Prof. Dr. Mandal continued as follows: “The studies carried out in this voyage were the first studies in our national and international territorial waters. With the information obtained, we now know this region much more closely. The mapping will be done with a quick study, and then the second voyage will start. Then samples will be collected with cores. With the aging method, we will be able to see which earthquake intervals have occurred in this region in the past and what kind of a road map it will provide for us for the future. We will share all of these with the public.”
1,300 km were scanned in two weeks
Stating that an area of 1,300 km was scanned during the two-week period when the ship was underway, Prof. Dr. Mandal said, “This is a very valuable area. It was 24/7 work. The working method was collective, with each researcher bringing whatever they had in their laboratories. In this way, it was possible to collect such effective data in a short time. The data obtained by our scientists will be indispensible not only for our country, but also for Greece and the world. Such a working method is an important tool for a much more effective and efficient solution to the earthquake reality of our country.”
It is more difficult to respond to earthquakes under the sea
Project Coordinator Assist. Prof. Gülsen Uçarkuş from ITU Eastern Mediterranean Centre of Oceanography and Limnology drew attention to the fact that our country is on an earthquake zone and that there are active faults in its different regions. Reminding that we have experienced many earthquakes such as that in Elazığ or in İzmit in 1999, Uçarkuş expressed the difference between earthquakes that occur on land and those that occur under the sea: “The difference is this: When a fault breaks on land, we geoscientists can go to the field immediately; however, for earthquakes that occur under the sea, such as that occurred in Kuşadası Bay and north of Samos Island, we have a single method to go there: A research vessel and its technological infrastructure. Therefore, earthquake studies in sea are more difficult and require advanced technology compared to land studies. Within the framework of the platform created by TÜBİTAK, we four universities came together, combined our expertise and devices in our universities’ infrastructures that can collect acoustic data –we call these high-tech devices that can collect hydrographic and oceanographic data sets– We now have such infrastructure in Turkey. We designed this project with TÜBİTAK MAM’s MARMARA Research Vessel.”
We worked devotedly for 12 days
Uçarkuş stated that the fault that caused the earthquake in the north of Samos Island did not pass through our territorial waters and international waters, therefore that part was being studied by Greek scientists, and explained the aim of their work within the scope of the Turkish Earthquake Platform project with the following words: “Since this region is cut by many fault systems, we have created a setup to study other active fault systems, such as Tuzla Fault, Gülbahçe Fault or other active fault systems extending from the Küçük Menderes graben to the sea, from under the sea. What we're trying to do here is; first to be able to create a map of the seafloor, its morphology. In this voyage, we added new data sets to the data previously collected by the Office of Navigation, Hydrography and Oceanography. Most importantly, we used a device called the Sub Bottom Profiler, owned by Istanbul University, and a system to analyze and visualize the faults that continue from the land into the bay and the faults that cut the layers in the sea. We collected acoustic data of 1,300 km. This data was collected in a time as short as 12 days with the ship crew and scientific team working in 24-hour shifts. We worked devotedly.”
Earthquake research in sea requires multidisciplinary work
Uçarkuş expressed that during the voyage they expected to see normal faults in the Aegean Stress Regime, which affected this region tectonically and also to see the strike-slip fault systems seen on land, and continued: “As the first findings, we were able to observe with our acoustic data how our vertical faults cut the layers. This will enable us to draw an accurate active fault map. However, of course, this alone will not be enough, because the investigation of earthquakes in the sea requires multidisciplinary studies, so we are together with professors from different areas such as geology and geophysical engineering. Our professors from other branches would also participate.”
What will happen in the second voyage?
Uçarkuş stated that during the second earthquake voyage of the TÜBİTAK MARMARA Vessel, the deformations of the previously mentioned layers of the earthquakes that occurred in the past will be determined by making geological sampling with cores from around the active faults. Expressing that special precipitations will be detected in the cores and that they will be aged by radiometric methods, Uçarkuş said, “Therefore, we aim to obtain important findings about the earthquakes produced by these faults and the seismic cycle. In this way, a new data set will be created to determine the seismicity of Izmir and its environs. We are really excited about that.”
The scientific results obtained are very valuable
Dokuz Eylül University (DEU) Institute of Marine Sciences and Technology faculty member Prof. Dr. Derman Dondurur expressed that the research studies continue day and night and that the scientific results obtained are very valuable. Stating that in the studies they observed that the activity of Tuzla Fault on the seafloor is much more intense, Dondurur said that this shows that the fault is longer than predicted. Dondurur noted that there is a basin especially in the southwestern part of the study area, and that they obtained data that would enable them to make inferences about how this structure, which extends to a depth of 1,200 meters, was formed. Noting that there is no clear date for the second research voyage yet, Dondurur added that plans are being made for the autumn months.
Source: TÜBİTAK MAM