On 17 August 1999, a destructive magnitude 7.4 earthquake occurred 100 km east of Istanbul, near the city of Izmit, on the North Anatolian fault. This 1,600-km-long plate boundary1,2 slips at an average rate of 2–3 cm yr-1 (refs 3,4,5), and historically has been the site of many devastating earthquakes6,7. This century alone it has ruptured over 900 km of its length6. Models of earthquake-induced stress change8 combined with active fault maps9 had been used to forecast that the epicentral area of the 1999 Izmit event was indeed a likely location for the occurrence of a large earthquake9,10. Here we show that the 1999 event itself significantly modifies the stress distribution resulting from previous fault interactions9,10. Our new stress models take into account all events in the region with magnitudes greater than 6 having occurred since 1700 (ref. 7) as well as secular interseismic stress change, constrained by GPS data11. These models provide a consistent picture of the long term spatio–temporal behaviour of the North Anatolian fault and indicate that two events of magnitude equal to, or greater than, the Izmit earthquake are likely to occur within the next decades beneath the Marmara Sea, south of Istanbul.
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We thank F. F. Pollitz and R. Harris for comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by the EEC FAUST programme and the INSU-CNRS PNRN programmes.
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Hubert-Ferrari, A., Barka, A., Jacques, E. et al. Seismic hazard in the Marmara Sea region following the 17 August 1999 Izmit earthquake. Nature 404, 269–273 (2000) doi:10.1038/35005054
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