WLW: UC geologist explains local risks from earthquakes

More than 19,000 killed in deadly Turkey earthquake

WLW turned to a University of Cincinnati geologist to explain the earthquake risks in the Midwest after a natural disaster in Turkey and Syria killed more than 19,000 people.

A magnitude 7.8 earthquake on Monday destroyed hundreds of thousands of structures in Turkey and Syria in what the Turkish president described as “the disaster of the century.”

Craig Dietsch and Lilja Carden

UC associate professor Craig Dietsch leads a geology field trip to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

UC associate professor Craig Dietsch, head of UC's Department of Geosciences, told 700-WLW's Eddie & Rocky Show that earthquakes occur along known fault lines with no warning.

“Predicting earthquakes is very tricky,” Dietsch told co-hosts Rocky Boiman and Eddie Fingers.

“The fault lines in Turkey are very similar to the San Andreas,” Dietsch said. “They occur where these giant pieces of the Earth's crust are moving around and grinding past one another.”

Dietsch said the largest earthquake recorded in the United States was an 9.2 in southern Alaska in 1964, which generated a tsunami that killed people as far away as California.

“Any earthquake above 7 is a gigantic earthquake,” Dietsch said.

Dietsch leads regular geosciences field trips so students can explore the unique geology of places such as Thunder Bay, Ontario. Read: School of Rocks.

Dietsch said some new buildings in earthquake-prone areas have shock absorbers to help mitigate damage from tremors.

“Everywhere on our planet is under constant stress. If rocks are weak, they tend to slide past each other and you don't get an earthquake,” Dietsch said. “But if two strong rocks are strong, pressure builds up and sooner or later that stress will be released through an earthquake.”

Dietsch said the closest fault to Cincinnati is the Reelfoot Rift in Missouri.

“We live in a pretty seismically safe zone,” Dietsch said.

Listen to the WLW interview on the Eddie and Rocky Show. 

Featured image at top: UC associate professor Craig Dietsch examines a cliff face near Duluth, Minnesota, during a 2022 field trip. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

Related Stories


Smithsonian: UC student interprets bison 'mummy'

November 2, 2020

UC paleoecologist Joshua Miller and doctoral student Abby Kelly talk to Smithsonian about a rare mummified steppe bison found in Alaska that could improve our understanding of life on Earth 28,000 years ago.