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SPOKANE, Wash. — The United States is sending 78 search and rescue team members from Los Angeles to help in the race to save lives in Turkey and Syria.
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake toppled thousands of buildings in the middle of the night on Sunday, and so far more than 7,700 people have died.
Seismologists say the two earthquakes are the most powerful to hit the region in well over 100 years. The waves from the earthquake were captured on equipment at Eastern Washington University's Cheney campus.
Turkey sits on the intersection of three major tectonic plates, including what's called the East Anatolian fault. The fault has remained quiet, but with the recent quake, experts say it seems to be waking up.
The Arabian plate is moving north and colliding with Europe, therefore Turkey is stuck in between.
"Two giant faults that bound the country of Turkey are kind of like a watermelon seed that's getting squirted out of your fingers, so as they collide Turkey is squirting out to the side," Eastern Washington Dean of College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics David Bowman said.
A large earthquake like the one in Turkey and Syria comes with aftershocks, which will likely last years.
"These two earthquakes happening within a few hours of each other that was going through a severe weather storm is really going to make the human tragedy all the worse," Bowman said.
The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network captures waves from all over the world including local ones.
The college's seismometer picked up the waves from the earthquake. It recorded over an hour of shaking. An earthquake of that magnitude makes the earth ring like a bell.
"This is a tragedy," Bowman said. "This is a human tragedy. It's always very difficult working in seismology because the large earthquakes that we study, that we learn about how the earth works cause human tragedy."
Seismology is the holy grail of earthquake preparedness. Although there's no predicting when an earthquake will occur, equipment such as seismometers can be used for an early warning.
"Say, for instance there's an earthquake in Seattle. The shaking can be detected there in Seattle, and it will be a while before the shaking gets to us because the seismometers are there where the earthquake actually happens," Bowman said. "They can set off an alarm, and send a radio signal to us in advance that an earthquake wave is coming."
Bowman says Seattle is far enough that an earthquake wave there wouldn't do damage in Eastern Washington. In other places, where earthquakes are common such as California, Japan and Mexico City, seismic equipment is important.
We don't see many earthquakes happen in eastern Washington. If one did happen, Bowman says there won't be a warning. The good news is because of the kind of earthquakes that would hit the area, the buildings wouldn't collapse. However, being inside during a quake is a different story,
"That's why we tell people to duck down under a desk, under a table, under a chair, something like that to protect your head from flying debris," Bowman said.
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Vanessa Perez joined the 4 News Now team as a Multimedia Journalist and producer in August 2021. Previously, she worked for an NBC affiliate in Kalispell, Montana where she covered winter storms, education, local government and the pandemic. Vanessa grew up in Chino, California. She earned a degree in Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts from San Francisco State University. She enjoys being out in the community and learning about people’s stories each day. When she’s not working, you can catch her listening to podcasts, cooking, trying new food/coffee spots, and hanging out with her cat, Milo.