Earthquakes in the Eastern Mediterranean and Southern Pacific: Mid-January 2013


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Earthquakes in the Eastern Mediterranean

Tectonic setting of Aegean earthquakes. Image credit: USGS

Tectonic setting of Aegean earthquakes. Image by USGS

Another area of note is the trio of minor earthquakes that occurred in the eastern Mediterranean close to the border between Turkey and Greece.

These earthquakes followed a larger M5.7 tremor that occurred on January 8, 2013. Major earthquakes are not unknown in the Mediterranean, though the area is not as vulnerable as other areas, but these events illustrate the complex tectonics of the region.

The eastern Mediterranean is seismically active. The Anatolian block is trapped between the Eurasian plate and the northwards-moving African plate, which is being subducted.

The boundary is marked by the volcanic arc, which lies behind the chain of islands including Crete, Karpathos, and Rhodes. Although the overall sense of the region is compressional, a close look at the structural geology shows evidence of local extension. This movement was likely the cause of this cluster of tremors.

Largest Earthquake in the United States

Alaska was the most dynamic of the 52 states this week, with numerous earthquakes, many of them associated with the crustal faults that lie behind the subduction zone between the Pacific and North American plates. Though no major tremors occurred, the largest recorded on mainland Alaska was just M4.7, a M5.0 was recorded further west in the Aleutian Islands.

No Major Tremors; Plenty of Activity

It’s rare when a week passes without a single earthquake of over M6.0. This week was interesting because of the ocean-ridge location of the one tremor  large enough to cross that threshold. Even during such quiet periods, however, the Earth continues to move and science continues to record small-scale earth tremors along the planet’s seismic belts.


USGS. Earthquakes and Plate Tectonics. (2012). Accessed 15 January 2013.

Yeats, R. Active Faults of the World. (2012). Cambridge University Press

USGS. Real time earthquake map. (2013). Accessed 15 January 2013.

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