On October 30, when a powerful magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck under the Aegean Sea, dozens of buildings collapsed and water rushed into the streets of the coastal city of Izmir, Turkey, and on the island of Samos, Greece. At least 14 people have died and more than 400 were injured.
This region is no stranger to earthquakes, with a written record of tectonic destruction stretching back centuries. But while many earthquake-prone places around the world can trace their seismic activity to the meeting of just two main tectonic plates, the situation is far messier around the Aegean. The source of all the shaking is instead a complicated geologic jigsaw that makes up the area, cut through with a web of faults.
“This is definitely one of the most complex regions in the world,” says Joao Duarte, a marine geologist from the Instituto Dom Luiz at the University of Lisbon.