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Earthquake Risk Model Shows Greece Amongst Most Threatened Nations

Earthquake Greece
In October 2020, an earthquake that struck the eastern Greek Aegean island of Samos and the nearby Turkish coast killed two people on Samos and at least 75 people in Turkey. Credit: AMNA

Greece is threatened by a disaster caused by an earthquake, scientists who have created the first earthquake risk model for the whole of Europe say.

The report by the European Facilities for Earthquake Hazard and Risk (EFEHR) prepared by European seismologists, geologists, and engineers has revised the existing earthquake hazard model for Europe initially published in 2013. For the first time, it has also created an earthquake risk model for the whole continent.

The earthquake hazard describes potential ground shaking due to future earthquakes and is based on knowledge about past earthquakes, geology, tectonics, and local site conditions at any given location across Europe.

Greece Europe earthquakes
The earthquake hazard map. Credit: EFEHR

The model confirms Turkey, Greece, Albania, Italy, and Romania are the countries with the highest earthquake hazard in Europe followed by the other Balkan countries.

First European earthquake risk model

The earthquake risk refers to the estimated economic and humanitarian cost of potential earthquakes.

With this information mapped out, scientists believe decision-makers have valuable, innovative tools available to build more resilient communities by constructing buildings and architecture that can withstand earthquakes.

Models “provide authoritative information to inform national local decisions related to developing seismic design codes and risk mitigation strategies,” the team states.

They also point out that the main drivers of earthquake risk are older buildings.

Greece earthquake
The earthquake risk map. Credit: EFEHR

The risk is highest in heavily populated and developed urban areas, such as Istanbul and Izmir in Turkey, Catania and Naples in Italy, Bucharest in Romania, and Athens in Greece.

Factors such as the age of buildings, population and building density, and local soil conditions can all contribute to earthquake risk.

Greece is especially earthquake-prone

Greece lies in a highly seismically active region. The vast majority of earthquakes cause no damage or injuries, however.

In October 2020, an earthquake that struck the eastern Greek Aegean island of Samos and the nearby Turkish coast killed two people on Samos and at least 75 people in Turkey.

The country is located in a complex geological boundary zone in the eastern Mediterranean between the African Plate and Eurasian Plate.

The northern part of Greece lies on the Eurasian Plate while the southern part lies on the Aegean Sea Plate.

The Aegean Sea Plate is moving southwestward with respect to the Eurasian Plate at about 30 mm (1 inch) per year while the African Plate is subducting northward, beneath the Aegean Sea Plate at a rate of about 40 mm (1.6 inches) per year.

The northern plate boundary is a relatively diffuse divergent boundary while the southern convergent boundary forms the Hellenic Arc.

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