Mysterious Turkiye-Syria Earthquakes: Inquiry Needed


According to, the origins of the catastrophic earthquakes that struck in Turkiye and Syria on February 6, 2023 may have links to hydrofracking activity. This is important to investigate, whether or not oil-and-gas development is linked to the earth rupturing events. The latest reports from the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC/CESM) indicate that every day there are earthquakes happening in Turkiye, likely aftershocks along the East Anatolian Fault Line, that will take several more months at least to settle down.[1]

Turkiye has looked forward to developing oil fields since the late 1990s despite the fact that the region carries high seismic risk. Was that a mistake? At least Dr. Armagan Derman, director at the state oil company of Turkey (TPAO) tried to warn the authorities. “But despite the danger, for about twenty years the subsoil has been drilled in search of black gold despite the fact that the cost/risk/benefit ratio has been deemed incongruous,” writes GospaNews. In fact, in Dr. Armagan Derman’s report, “Unconventional Resources in Turkey: Myth or Reality?” he warns:

“Unconventional oil and gas, on the other hand, are those hydrocarbons which are produced from the same petroleum system with conventionals, but from a different rock type. These rocks, as stated above, are referred to as shales. If a shale is rich in organic matter, it is referred to as ‘Source Rock.’ Despite conventional reservoirs, it is very difficult to extract oil and gas due to very low transmissibility of fluids. To have economic flow rates, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing is a must.”

This statement belies its simplicity from a geologic standpoint, as revealed from doing some independent research in addition to that suggested by GospaNews. Shale formations are tapped following the exhaustion of easy-to-reach shallow oil seeps. The deposit of oil in shale formations generally follows an ancient stratigraphic hierarchy. It requires drilling past the quaternary strata of the Cretaceous down into the Triassic where the dolomite with shale is located; further drilling allows retrieval of shale deposits interspersed with sandstone from the Permian, Carboniferous, Lower Silurian, and Ordivician period strata; finally the Cambrian strata is reached which would consist of quartzitic sandstone. The thickness and actual types of depositions vary, but for the former inland sea, that would be the general pattern. In southern Turkey it is greatly complicated by the collision of the Arab tectonic plate into the Anatolian tectonic plate, creating many faults and convolutions. The vertical drilling for shale would generally require at least 4km depth but often in excess of 6km depth.

Furthermore the horizontal drilling could not be anything like what might be idealized for horizontal level strata in applications due to so many convolutions, inclines and synclines, caused by geologic uplift from thrust, strike-slip, oblique, and reverse faults traversing the transform fault system throughout the South Anatolia East Fault Line region from Adana-Ceyhan and east to the Kurdistani border. If anything, uneven horizontal drilling may likely even include underground blasting, not just hydrofracking chemicals, and that would also tend to activate earthquake ruptures. In fact, it is surprising that given the extensive licensing and exploration that has occurred at accelerating rates since the 2000s, that man-made earthquakes were not previously triggered. The fact that shale is at all recoverable is a marvel of science and technological progress; however the sensitivity of the gaseous strata for physical imbalance may have been downplayed.

Worst Earthquake Catastrophe Ever for Turkiye (and Syria)

The first quake that struck on 06 February 2023 measured over 8.1M according to Dutchsinse, a dedicated earthquake researcher. His live-streaming of the earthquake event shows that the initial alarm bell was for over 8M, but the recording of amplitude and depth varies with the lab. For instance, the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC/CESM), which provides real time earthquake information, recorded M7.8, depth 10km, and locale 18 miles NW from Gaziantep. Dutchsinse recorded a couple more earthquakes in the 60 mile radius from Gaziantep such as a 6.2M with depth of 110km between Ceyhan and Osmaniye. Kandilli Observatory recorded the intial earthquake as M7.4, depth 10km, at 37.1N, 37.1E in Gaziantep province. There were many aftershocks following and filling in between Ceyhan-Osmaniye toward Gaziantep located along the Anatolia transform plate boundary.[2]

Then aproximately 9 hours later on the same date, the next big quake strikes approximately 60 miles north of Gaziantep near Kahramanmaras, another serious seismic event of 7.8M. Dutchsinse asserts that such a similar sized or larger quake could occur if the energy from the plate is not transferred to the next plate over (such as west toward the European tectonic plate). EMSC/CESM records it as M7.5, 4km SE of Ekinozu, Turkey, 02-06-2023, 10:24:49 (Greenwich Mean Time), 38.02N, 37.2E, 10km depth. The US Geological Survey (USGS) also has recorded a swarm of earthquakes and aftershocks in the region of mostly 4-5M and depths of 10km or much less. The EMSC/CESM is exhibiting all the quakes as they occur, but not necessarily the USGS. For instance, the spread of earthquakes causes a minor earthquake in Central Turkey of 5M, 10km depth; and in Rhodes, a quake of 4.7M, 22km depth.

“These are not being reported on USGS [U.S. Geological Survey]; but shown on EMSC; even showing on Kandilli Observatory; you have to check multiple sites in case USGS is omitting earthquakes.”—Dutchsinse, 06 February 2023

In fact by 19 February 2023, at least 6,000 aftershocks had been recorded according to Turkiye’s Disaster Management Authority (AFAD). Director Orhan Tatar told the press:

“The number of aftershocks caused by the two earthquakes has reached 6,040, among them, 1,628 aftershocks were measured as a magnitude 3-4, 436 of them with a magnitude of 4-5, and 40 with a magnitude of 5-6. There was also a 6.6 magnitude quake…Especially after earthquakes of this magnitude, aftershocks will continue for a longer period of time. Some of these aftershocks may have a magnitude of 5 and above.” —AFAD [3]

Geophysical testimony, such as by Angelo Strollo of the German Research Center for Geosciences, is that the plate has shifted up to 2-10 meters, while the affected area is 200-240km in length including lateral spreading ruptures, strike-slips along the transform fault line, and numerous auxillary transverse fault activations. Such a large quake has not happened since 1939, and of “large magnitude, shallow depth, a devastating mix,” Strollo asserts. A study, “Structure and Evolution of the Petroliferous Euphrates Graben System” by Litak, Barazingi, et al. shows a Figure 1 map indicating how the Dead Sea Transform meets the Bitlis Suture and Zagros Fold Belt (normal fault systems) along the East Anatolian Transform. Like the San Andreas Fault system, when examined with a scholarly lens it is a hive of active fault lines that extend from several kilometers to miles underneath the earth.[4][5]

The complexity of the petroleum geology and imbrications where oil pools down and to where the last shales can be reached are indeed hideous, but the saga basically is that once the easy oil is pumped out from mostly the Mesozoic-era formations (dating back between 70 to 250 million years ago), then the necessary hydro-fracking processes are needed to break the keragen in the shale-sedimentary layers from the Paleozoic-era formations (dating back between 250 to 470 million years ago). It is the responsibility of the oil-shale geologist to locate and map the strata and faults and folds which must be drilled both vertically and horizontally through all kinds of discontinuities and created by any kind of fault terraform.

Maps from a study conducted by Oguz Mulayim, Ibrahm Cemen et al. (“Structural Geology and Depositional Environments of the Mardin Group” in the Turkish Journal of Earth Sciences) indicate at least (5) fault belts including uplift zones along the East Anatolian Fault Line extending between Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Kahmaranmaras, Adiyaman, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Mardin, Batman, Siirt, Sirnak, Hakari. All around this fault region there had been a myriad of oil drilling and exploration activities since the 2000s. As the earlier sweet crude was pumped out, only the rock remains deeper down, and to reach the early Paleozoic formations, such as the Silurian and Ordivician strata would require well depths of at least 6km. Could this be why so many towns, cities, and 11 provinces are under a state of emergency? Why so many buildings “pancaked” from the liquifaction-inducing shallow earthquakes?[6]

Turkish Journal of EarthSciences, Map of Cemberlitas Oilfield, by Mulayim et al. (2015)
Study by geologists illustrate East Anatolian Fault Line system (Oguz Mulayim, Mancini, Cemen and Yilmaz, “Structural geology and depositional environments of the Mardin group carbonates” [6])

The grueling processes are described from early hydraulic mining operations during the late Gold Rush in California, which permanently denuded mountains and exposed ugly fractured rock faces along Highway 49. Today’s use of sand and proprietary chemicals applied at even higher pressure while drilling vertically and horizonally into rock formations can extend for miles. “Well-stimulation” whereby acidizing fluids of various toxic acids, such as hydrochloric/flouric, are used while hydraulic-fracturing. Because in California and elsewhere the multinational oil companies are not legally required to submit data on chemical additives, there is no regulation over the concentration or amount of potential hazard, nor any data collected or analyzed with regard to dangers as underground formations are altered, displaced, saturated, and melted to achieve optimum hydrocarbon flows. [7]

Since any possible link between hydrofracking and oil-well development to triggering earthquakes must be avoided, the Western cable repeatedly downgraded the severity of the seismic amplitude, increased the source depths, and undercounted the number of associated earthquakes and aftershocks almost from the beginning. The Turkish authorities asserted that the epicenter was at Kahramanmaras rather than Gaziantep where the initial mega-quake occurred. Were they hoping to escape the sound of “Gaz”? The reporting of pipeline ruptures was also minimized. TRTWorld reported only one major pipe rupture located in Hatay province. Given the pipeline traversing from Batman to Ceyhan, from Kirkuk (Iraq) to Ceyhan, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan arterial, and refineries in Adana, there had to be multiple locations with damage.

The entire South Anatolian fault region is subject to intermittant telluric swarms unless fossil fuel fracking is halted. After the loss of so many lives and livelihoods, the forced relocation of tens of millions of Turkish and Syrians, will the SDG30 Build Back Better plan of the United Nations be implemented to confine and condition people to “container city” boundaries? Will the Turkish Army’s role be subserviant to multinational energy corporations’ aims which are to intensify hydro-fuel harvesting and unsafe disposal-well density?

Crazy Earthquake Swarms and Hydrofracking

In Turkiye (and Syria) the U.S. and European oil companies have been conducting explorations for over a generation, however this aspect of Western history is murky. What we did find is that deep land-drilling has been possible for at least a generation. For instance, Russia holds the world record (at least officially) in the deepest well bit, at 12 kilometers down. Advancements in hydrofracking and deep-sea oil drilling mean that the U.S. has the technology to drill at least 10 kilometers down, even if on average the hydrofracking wells are shallower. Developments in horizonal drilling mean that the well perimeter influence may extend or connect with well stations for several miles.

Even in the 1960s, according to “On Shaky Ground” report by Jhon Arbelaez, Shaye Wolf, Ph.D. and Andrew Grinberg, a 12,000 feet deep injection well drilled by the U.S. Army to dispose of liquid hazardous wastes created recordable seismicity. At 3.66 kilometers depth the well reactivated unknown faults due to intersection with the injection well and/or changes in the transectionary formation with the introduction of possibly radioactive chemicals in fluids:

“One of the first recorded cases of human-induced earthquakes due to underground fluid injection occurred in 1961, when the U.S. Army began disposing of millions of gallons of liquid hazardous waste 12,000 feet below the surface at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal near Denver, Colorado. This injection spurred more than 1,500 earthquakes over a five-year period in an area not known for active seismicity. It culminated in three earthquakes of magnitudes 5.0 to 5.5 more than a year after injection ceased, the largest of which caused more than $500,000 in damages.”[8]

According to Arbelaez, there were two other well-drilling research projects that established a link between wastewater injection and earthquake-induction, one done in the 1970s, and another done in the 1990s, and both demonstrated how the earthquakes induced could cause significant damage. The Center for Biological Diversity and environmental advocates believe that in areas of high seismicity, such as along the extensive San Andreas fault system in California (which has been compared with the North Anatolian Fault Line in Turkiye), hydrofracturing well activities heighten many risks that have been routinely overlooked and with studies underfunded from the standpoint of the public safety and well-being.

While shale geologists earn a comfortable salary producing petroleum research reports, other departments are starved of funds for discovering how boring deep wells, horizontal well drilling, and acidizing hydraulic-fracturing methods, including enhanced-oil-recovery (EOR), threaten ground stability, encourage sinkholes, or activate underground fault systems. These knowledge gaps, including the time period over which wastewater injection wells whether active or capped, pose dangers that lawmakers are neither aware of, nor know how to adequately anticipate. Such earthquakes may present alone or in a series, called “earthquake swarms” and can occur years later after oil extraction has ceased.

At least within the United States, thanks to environmental research and advocacy organizations, the increases in the numbers of earthquakes have been recorded. As the number of earthquakes have increased anywhere from 3 to 10 fold, in regions where hydrofracking is taking place, scientists are investigating and attributing the increased seismic activity to underground injection of acidizing fluids and borehole wastewater. According to “On Shaky Ground”:

“Earthquakes of M3 to M5 have been scientifically linked to wastewater injection wells in at least six states: Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Ohio…[In Oklahoma, t]he state has been hit by more than 200 earthquakes of M3 or larger since 2009—-about 40 per year—-compared to 1 to 3 a year between 1975 and 2008.”[8]

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), not only had the likelihood of earthquakes in Oklahoma increased ten-fold, but the number of earthquake swarms created hazards that previously did not exist in rural Oklahoma as well as in Oklahoma City. Many believe there is a causative link to wastewater injection wells, and the State Insurance Commissioner even recommends that state residents purchase earthquake insurance.

Rock formations are sensitive to changes in pore pressure, soil density, temperature, gas-buildup, and changes in surcharge pressure due to human-excavation activities, but in places where the tectonic plates are in friction, these changes can cause the kind of complex stress and strain which encourage rock slippage, such as occur when in proximity with thrust belts or strike-slip faults, and which are multiplied in auxilliary fault systems for a domino-effect, as explained by Dr. Celal Sengor to in “One Month On.”[9]

In Turkiye, the thrust from the Arabian plate into the Anatolian plate, which was once ice-sheeted, may even play a role in the number of “soft” volcanic formations which has allowed a unique wonderland of many natural sinkholes and caves. Over the millenia, natives built sophisticated tunnel villages going down several stories to escape from warring invaders. Whether or not such cave-systems are being used in connection with underground petroleum mining or other mining activities, it is possible there are fault line intersections.

Could it be that in South Turkiye, where the Arabian tectonic plate is actively pushing against the Anatolian tectonic plate, that the South East Anatolian Fault Line, which lay mostly dormant for hundreds of years, has now been irrevocably triggered into a prolonged period of quakes and earthquake swarms? Is hydrofracking the mechanism that has activated long dormant tectonic activity?

Underground Fractal Landscape Time Bomb

In a recent DW Documentary, “Istanbul Earthquake: Risk and early warning,” Marco Bohnhoff, a seismologist at the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, demonstrated how an early earthquake warning system might be predicated on the extent of microfractures measurable in rock, for instance, by sonar monitoring systems. He designs and uses pressure tests on stones found in typical rock formations to recreate earthquake cycles. As the earthquake pressure increases due to locked potential energy, invisible microcracks form, increasing until the point of fracture, which might even be after the actual event. At any rate, Dr. Bohnhoff believes the same logic can apply to large-scale quakes, “We’re seeing all this foreshock activity before the point of fracture; since that is similar for all rock samples, we’re hopeful that we can apply this method,” he told reporter and witnesses.[10]

This and other kinds of early warning systems are ways the government in Instanbul hope to minimize casualties and create safer structures, however, will the government in Ankara support such funding when on top of the pending Instanbul mega-quake, there is investment thirst for Thrace oil development? This kind of conflict of interests is precisely what President Erdogan and his team censor from the public discourse, even at TRT World, with its growing international audience. Time and again, as history has shown with Iraq, in Syria, in Libya, and elsewhere, the West invests so heavily in certain types of leaders in government. When the fracking and shale boom began in the 1990s, Turkish oil fields were already priming out of the shallow oil seeps; naturally the boom presented itself like the new Wild West for speculators, and Erdogan was more than willing to accommodate.

The investment in the shale boom in Turkey was easily undertaken as there is already a powerful Western presence there in the form of U.S./NATO military army and airfields, such as Incirlik airbase off the south coast. For instance, Near Eastern Outlook (and Millenium Report) reported on the racketeering involved with the Turkish president’s son, Bilal Erdogan, in both the funding of ISIS terrorists and cross-border smuggling of all kinds of goods (gas, oil, human-trafficking, etc). According to investment trade magazines such as Investing News, or Shale Experts, there is a lot of money exchanging hands for bidding lots in Turkey’s Dadas Shale billed as a “world-class unconventional oil play” beginning in 2013. [11][12]

However unconventional and extensive, Dadas Shale, Mardin, and others also sit atop energetic telluric plate boundaries. Various petroleum engineers view this as a boon for trapped oil seeps, or for helping sandwich formations between graben structures during hydraulic-fracturing, never mind that uncalculable damage is done in shattering so many unstable formations. GospaNews even compares the aerial view of the high number of well points dotting the landscape to a “colander.” Like western governments, the Erdogan cabinet is attempting to white-wash any causal link between fracking and the mega-quakes. Even Dr. Celal Sengor, the Turkish geologist who prepared extensive studies on petroleum basins in Turkey, was mum about any other source relevance outside of plate tectonics while explaining to Al Jazeera how the February 6th quakes caused so many aftershocks.[13]

This kind of censorship is unconscionable when all the available evidence points to the underground landscape below the South Anatolia along the East Anatolian Fault Line as basically an underground fractal landscape that is like a sitting time bomb. It prevents the best seismologists, such as Dr. Bohnhoff from being able to conduct critically needed studies, because of the various unknown factors playing into the hands of fate, ascribable to shifting fault systems, rifted formations, landing foundations altered by soil pumping, improperly abandoned wells, or even damaged disposal well casings. Corporations externalize the cost of catastrophes, and the public pays, unless environmentalists can convince lawmakers otherwise.

Earthquake swarms are deadly and the link was substantiated in an earthquake in Central Italy in May 2012, reported researcher Maria Rita D’Orsogna at California State University. According to GospaNews, an investigation by the ICHESE Commission of Emilio Region found a a possible correlation between oil wells and the earthquakes that struck.

“The ICHESE (International Commission on Hydrocarbon Exploration and Seismicity in the Emilia Region Commission) pointed its finger in particular at an extraction site (Cavone, in Mirandola, in the province of Modena) twenty kilometers from the epicenter of the earthquake. In the conclusion of the report it was said that ‘it cannot be excluded that the activities mining at the site may have triggered the May 20 earthquake, the epicenter of which is 20 kilometers away.'”[14]

While that earthquake resulted in only 27 deaths and scores of injuries, another earthquake in central Italy in 2016 resulted in 300 deaths. Italy is another region where many buildings are constructed of traditional stone, ancient mortar, non-reinforced, without earthquake diaphragms (such as intermittent pilasters, anchor bolts, and flexible ridge systems).

The implications of not helping the public become aware of all that can be done in earthquake prevention has been made clear from the February megaquakes and earthquake swarms in south Turkiye and Syria, with over 50,000 people dead, and tens of millions of people displaced, livelihoods lost, families shorn apart, and historic towns obliterated. The impact came so suddenly and swiftly it has been likened to the force of 130 atomic bombs. With people wholly dependent upon the government to rescue them, and while the government and foreign nations have appeared to do their utmost to assist, there still needs to be serious questions raised, such as what ultimately helped trigger the events.

There are structural and environmental consequences from lack of accountability in hydraulic fracturing and waste disposal, especially in fast-track amnesties for “oil bonanzas”:

“The underground injection of wastewater has long been documented to induce earthquakes. Wastewater injected into rock formations can build up significant pressure depending on the volume of wastewater, rate of injection, and the permeability of the rock. This pressure build-up can induce an earthquake if the pressure is relayed to a fault that is already stressed and close to failure. The pressure can reduce the natural friction on the fault enough to cause it to slip and trigger an earthquake. The larger the fault, the larger the magnitude of earthquakes it can host.”[15]

“On Shaky Ground” also cites what kinds of gaps of knowledge are missing and need to be addressed from a comprehensive mapping perspective, rather than just one single well permit at a time. Such knowledge gaps include: What size of earthquake can be induced? What is the maximum distance from which earthquakes may be induced (whether from a well head or lateral endpoint)? What is the time period (whether performing enhanced recovery, wastewater injection, hydrofracking or acidizing) over which earthquakes may be induced? How does well density influence the risk of earthquakes? When and why will an injection well induce an earthquake, as opposed to not?[15]

Unless there is more data, it can be difficult for public legislating bodies to force well-system reclassification, to adequately assess risks and apply interventions, to optimize rules and regulations around hazardous waste disposal, to establish boundaries and limits to fracking near active fault systems or underground aquifers, and to ensure that strict inspections and depth limits are observed. In short the connection between oil drilling/hydrofracking activities and earthquake faults requires a lot more study, because in places like California (and probably Turkiye), where over half of drilled wells are within 10 miles to a recently active fault, and almost a quarter within five miles, the situation is like sitting over a time bomb.

All one has to do to become convinced of this is to explore the fracking maps available from Fractracker Alliance. In Los Angeles County, the densification of active fracked wells, oil and gas wells, acidizing wells, wastewater injection wells are dangerously near the variety of fault lines in the vicinity. Understanding how the danger is increasing is important for students. Comprehensive mapping can convey the links between hazards such as nuclear waste disposal sites (at Santa Susanna), landslides, elevated wild-fire risk, high wind season, etc. In the February 6th mega-quakes in Turkiye and Syria, and its thousands of aftershocks, the criticality was clearly enhanced from the earthquakes’ shallow depths which increased severe shaking. Any novel experimental research technology being deployed for well-development also needs to be thoroughly exposed by the Turkish & Syrian authorities.[16]

By Christine H. Kroll, P.E., M.A.

Source Notes:

[1] Carisio, Fabio G.C.,

[2] Michael Yuri Janitch, “2/05/2023—Massive M7.8 (M8.1) Earthquake strikes Central Turkey/Southern Europe”, “02/06/2023—Alert—Second large M7.8 Earthquake strikes Turkey—Serious Seismic Event”, Dutchsinse, Youtube, 02/05/2023 & 02/06/2023

[3] TRT World, “Over 6,000 aftershocks occurred after February 6 Turkiye Quakes — AFAD,”

[4] DW News, “Quake eyewitness: We are aid workers, but now we are the ones who need help,” 02/07/2023, YouTube

[5] Litak, Barazangi, Brew, Sawaf, al-Imam, al-Youssef, “Structure and evolution of the petroliferous Euphrates graben system, Southeast Syria,” AAPG Bulletin (82: 6) June 1998

[6] Oguz Mulayim, Mancini, Cemen and Yilmaz, “Structural geology and depositional environments of the Mardin group carbonates in the Cemberlitas oil field in Southeastern Anatolia, Turkey, May 2013, /286232238_structural_geology_and_depositional_environments_of_the_mardin_group_carbonates_in_the_cemberlitas_oil_field_in_southeastern_anatolia_turkey (Figure 1 shown for educational purpose only)

[7] Jhon Arbelaez, Shaye Wolf, Ph.D. and Andrew Grinberg, “On Shaky Ground: Fracking, Acidizing, and Increased Earthquake Risk in California,” March 2014, Earthworks, Center for Biological Diversity, and Clean Water Action

[8] Arbelaez et al., “On Shaky Ground,” ibid.

[9] Al Jazeera, “Turkey-Syria Earthquakes, One Month On,”, 03/06/2023, Youtube

[10] DW Documentary, “Istanbul Earthquake: Risk and Early Warning,” 02/10/2023, Youtube

[11] William Engdahl, “Erdogan’s dangerous ISIS games,” New Eastern Outlook, 08/24/2015,
(also, the man who funds isis: bilal erdogan, the son of turkey’s president)

[12]’s dadas shale: a world-class unconventional oil play
(also,’s dadas shale: one of the world’s top unconventional shale oil)

[13] Al Jazeera, “Turkey-Syria Earthquakes, One Month On,” ibid.

[14] Carisio, Fabio G.,, ibid.

[15] Arbelaez et al., “On Shaky Ground,” ibid.

[16] Arbelaez et al., “On Shaky Ground,” also,

[17] Wikipedia, “Turkey Oil Pipelines” map,, (image shown for educational purpose only)