EERI Update on Reconnaissance Coordination for Turkey/Syria Earthquake Sequence

EERI is continuing to respond to the February 6, 2023 earthquake sequence affecting Turkey and Syria. Our thoughts remain with the victims, and with those of you among the membership who have family, friends, and colleagues in the region, as the relief work continues.

golbasiAs more information becomes available, including from the joint EERI-GEER advance reconnaissance team now in the field, the vast scale of this event and its impacts is growing clearer. The four-person advance team has focused on collecting perishable geotechnical data and assessing needs and opportunities for future reconnaissance. Locations visited so far include Elbistan, Gölbaşı, Pazarcık, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaraş, Nurdağı, Antakya/Hatay, and Adana. Their initial observations include substantial and significant surface fault rupture and liquefaction, often combined, and widespread impacts on buildings, lifelines and infrastructure, and more. A member of the team emphasized the shocking and overwhelming nature of the destruction observed, particularly in the cities.

Today (February 17) EERI held a coordination call with national and international organizations in the earthquake reconnaissance community and with local partners in Turkey. The most important takeaway was the importance of coordinating reconnaissance efforts to ensure the greatest possible coverage, avoid duplication, and facilitate information-sharing. As a participant on the ground noted, the affected area in Turkey alone is some 450 kilometers long and 100 kilometers wide, a region including 10 major cities with a population of some 15 million people. Disaster response and relief is still ongoing, and accommodation and other logistics continue to be challenging in many areas. Turkish colleagues on the call requested that the international community consider waiting to send in-person reconnaissance teams until the situation improves, and take the lead from local partners in deciding when and how to engage. EERI will continue to host field team coordination calls to collaborate with the many participating investigators and ensure that reconnaissance activities are well-timed, strategic, aligned, and designed to achieve the greatest impact.

As a result, EERI strongly encourages anyone considering reconnaissance to both join the coordination calls and check in with the Earthquake Clearinghouse established at AFAD headquarters in Ankara. The clearinghouse, which is being managed by Recep (Ray) Çakır, can provide support letters and facilitate communication with AFAD. This is particularly important as there may be security restrictions on access to potential reconnaissance sites in some affected areas. The clearinghouse will also serve the important purpose of ensuring that data collected by the scientific and technical communities is available to inform government decision making for the recovery and reconstruction process. To get in touch with the clearinghouse, fill out the EERI contact form and add a note requesting clearinghouse contact information.

EERI also encourages individuals and organizations considering reconnaissance to make use of the online training resources created by the CONVERGE facility at the University of Colorado—Boulder Natural Hazards Center. These materials provide training in ethical and rigorous research practices in disaster and extreme events settings, and are valuable resources for equipping reconnaissance teams to plan for potential impacts on local communities as well as on researchers in the field.

Share your Reconnaissance Plans
EERI is continuing to coordinate the reconnaissance response and will be scheduling future coordination calls and sharing information with the clearinghouse. If you are planning reconnaissance and would like to participate, please share your contact information via this form.

Contribute to Virtual Reconnaissance
EERI's Virtual Earthquake Reconnaissance Team (VERT) is collaborating with the Structural Extreme Events Reconnaissance (StEER) Network to on their virtual reconnaissance efforts. To learn more and register to participate, visit the StEER activation page here.

Virtual Earthquake Clearinghouse
EERI has established a virtual clearinghouse on the LFE website here, with resources including links to relevant World Housing Encyclopedia materials, reconnaissance reports from previous earthquakes in Turkey, and other content. More information will be added as our response develops.

Media Coverage
Due to the high level of media interest in this earthquake, EERI has also been fielding press inquiries and providing expert insight on the engineering topics to the media. Board President David Cocke has been the primary spokesperson for EERI, and many EERI members have also appeared or been quoted in print, radio, and television coverage. A partial list of those appearances can be found here.

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