Tag Archives: Earthquake

Earthquakes in Turkey and the formation of the Jordan Valley

For the past week we have been witnessing the devastation and destruction of the two major earthquakes that hit southeastern Turkey. Like many of you, the people of that region have been much in our prayers. The pictures of collapsed and partially collapsed buildings, and a stream of statistics, tell of the tremendous loss of life due to this event—and now in the aftermath the grief and suffering of the survivors.

In the description of earthquake, geologists say that it was the movements of the Anatolian and Arabian Plates that caused all of this devastation. They have called this event a “slip strike displacement” of the plates. This caught my attention for I remember reading in Denis Baly’ classic, The Geography of the Bible, that some experts believe that, in part, this was how a portion of the Great Rift Valley was formed—that is, Cisjordan and Transjordan have moved past each other (basically north-south) some 67 miles! (Baly, p. 23). That is, if you would shift Transjordan south about 67 miles, some of its faulting and rock formations would match their counterparts in the Judean Hill Country.

Coming back to Turkey, I wondered what a “slip-strike tectonic movement” might look like on the ground. I recently came across the photos of OzdemirAlpay @geodesist_a of a road in the Turkish village of Hasss, which is located about 45 mi. north northeast of Antakya, that caught my attention and I thought I would share them on this blog.

In this seemingly serene setting, notice how the road has been displaced about 6-8 feet in a horizontal direction! A slip-strike fault.

This is the same area, but notice the “crack” in the ground! Is this (near) where the two plates meet? It seems so pastoral, but we know how powerful the forces of this movement were!!

Notice the horizontal displacement of the “center line” of the road! A slip-strike fisure.

We continue to pray for the people of Turkey!

Baly, Denis. The Geography of the Bible. New and revised ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1974.


Blockage of the Jordan

The story of the blockage of the Jordan, so that Israel could cross from Transjordan into the Land of Canaan, has always fascinated readers of the Bible (Joshua 3-4; especially 3:14). In commenting on this passage bible geographers often cite “modern” blockages of the Jordan due to earthquakes including ones in 1547, 1906, and 1927 (for 27 hours; Zondervan Atlas of the Bible p.61).

The earthquake of July 11, 1927. Jordan flow checked by caving in of the river banks. Trees thrown into midstream.
From Library of Congress Collection

On Friday, September 7, 2012 one of my favorite web sites, Israel’s History – a Picture a Day, posted five images of the devastation caused by the earthquake of 11 July 1927 — including a picture from the Matson collection showing the blockage of the Jordan!  According to their commentary

its epicenter [was] located in the northern Dead Sea area, [and] the towns of Jericho, Jerusalem, Nablus (Shechem) and Tiberias were badly hit.  An estimated 500 people were killed in those locations.  Today, scientists believe the magnitude of the quake was 6.25

To view additional images of the Jordan River Click Here and Here.