The claim: Turkey earthquakes were a man-made attack on Kurdish people
"According to a firsthand source I have in Istanbul, Turkey, this 'earthquake' is a systemic attack against Kurdish people, who are anti-Islam," reads part of the post. "This is an election year and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan does not want to lose power."
The Truth Social post generated over 200 likes in less than a week. An Instagram post with the same claim generated over 1,000 likes before it was deleted.
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Our rating: False
Geological experts say the earthquakes and aftershocks that struck Turkey and Syria occurred naturally on a well-known fault system from the pressure of Earth's tectonic plates. The disasters were not man-made, as the post claims.
Turkey earthquakes occurred naturally, experts say
But contrary to the post’s claim, the earthquakes were not man-made, Rachel Abercrombie, who researches the earthquake rupture process at Boston University, told USA TODAY in an email.
"Nobody has the ability to intentionally create a large earthquake with any degree of certainty," Abercrombie said. "Various human activities – such as building large water reservoirs and fracking and waste-water injection related to hydrocarbon extraction and geothermal energy projects – can induce earthquakes, but never as large as this."
Jessica Turner, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey, agreed.
"A magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Turkey that occurred on a well-known (fault) system would be really difficult to produce as humans," Turner said. "A lot of energy was released that current human activity probably isn't capable of."
Fault zones are fractures in the Earth’s crust caused by the movement of tectonic plates, or slabs of rock that are part of the Earth's outer shell. Earthquakes occur in these zones when the buildup of pressure from the tectonic plates causes sections of the crust to "break or become displaced" releasing seismic waves, according to Caltech.
The border between Turkey and Syria lies near the Anatolian fault system, where several geologic plates interact: the African, Anatolian (where Turkey sits), Arabian and Eurasian, as USA TODAY reported.
The U.S. Geological Survey wrote in a press release that the Feb. 6 earthquakes and aftershocks occurred within the East Anatolian fault system.
"The Arabian plate is moving north towards the Eurasian plate, which is squeezing a block of crust wedged between these to the west," Jonathan Stewart, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of California Los Angeles, told USA TODAY. "The southern boundary of that block is the East Anatolian fault where the magnitude 7.8 (earthquake) occurred."
USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the claim for comment.
Lead Stories also debunked the claim.
Our fact-check sources:
Jessica Turner, Feb. 8, Phone interview with USA TODAY
William Ellsworth, Feb. 8, Email exchange with USA TODAY
Rachel Abercrombie, Feb. 8, Email exchange with USA TODAY
Ian Main, Feb. 8, Email exchange with USA TODAY
Jonathan Stewart, Feb. 8, Email exchange with USA TODAY
Thomas Heaton, Feb. 8, Email exchange with USA TODAY
Caltech, accessed Feb. 9, What Happens During an Earthquake?
Live Science, Feb. 8, Fault lines: Facts about cracks in the Earth
California Earthquake Authority, Aug. 31, 2020, Understanding Plate Tectonic Theory
U.S. Geological Survey, Feb. 5, A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck overnight near Nurdağı, Turkey on February 6 at 01:17 UTC.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Turkey earthquakes occurred naturally, experts say