Expert Pitch

Newswise — EVANSTON, Ill. --- Seismologists Suzan van der Lee and Amir Salaree of Northwestern University are available to discuss the devastating earthquake that struck Nov. 12 at the border of Iran and Iraq.

Suzan van der Lee, professor of Earth and planetary sciences, can comment on how the earthquake fits into a plate-tectonic framework. She said seismic waves from this earthquake began arriving in Illinois around 2:30 p.m. Chicago time, and they were recorded by Northwestern University’s seismic stations.

“The United States Geological Survey reports that the earthquake was felt throughout Iraq and a large part of Iran,” she said. “It occurred along a relatively less active and potentially more diffuse part of the tectonic plate boundary between the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates. To the north, this plate boundary merges with the infamous Anatolian Fault, which runs by Istanbul. The faulting mechanism was a so-called thrust fault, meaning that Iran and Iraq may have moved up to one meter closer to each other near the earthquake’s epicenter.”

Van der Lee can be reached at suzan@earth.northwestern.edu, 847-491-8183 (office) and 847-736-3789 (cell).

Amir Salaree is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Earth and planetary sciences at Northwestern. His research focuses on earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides. Over the course of his Ph.D. work, he has studied several earthquakes and tsunamis in Iran.

“The earthquake at the Iran-Iraq border is a result of the continental collision between Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates,” Salaree said. “Such earthquakes have claimed numerous lives in Iran, perhaps the most famous of which was the 2003 Bam earthquake in southeastern Iran, which resulted in about 40,000 casualties.”

Salaree can be reached at amir@earth.northwestern.edu, 847-491-8182 (office) and via Skype at amirsalaree.

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