Minimize Earthquake - Izmit (Turkey), 16 August 1999

Izmit (Turkey) - A strong earthquake shook north-western Turkey, levelling buildings, cutting power and phone lines and sending frightened residents into the streets, local radio reported. The National Earthquake Information Centre said the quake had a magnitude of 7.8, making it nearly as powerful as the 7.9-magnitude San Francisco quake, which killed 700 people in 1906.

The quake's epicentre was between Izmit and Bursa, some 100 kilometre east of Istanbul, where an oil refinery was in flames. Casualties were reported high in the nearby town of Golcuk, Derince and Darica. An oil refinery was reportedly on fire near Izmit, an industrial city of 500,000. Another large city badly affected by the earthquake is Adapazari, which is located North-East from the Sapanca Lake.

The death toll was rising by the hour as more debris was removed and contact with several towns and villages cut off by quake damage was re-established. On 18 August, while rescuers frantically scraped through the debris, fire-fighters battled a raging fire at Turkey's largest oil refinery at Izmit. Aircraft dropped chemical flame retardant on the blaze, which threatened to consume the entire facility. Officials feared an explosion if the fire was not contained soon.

Four days after the 7.4 earthquake struck, the Turkish Crisis Centre in Ankara said the death toll had risen to 10,059, and government sources told a Turkish newspaper they feared the death toll could rise to 20,000. More than 45,000 were injured and thousands were still missing.

Event Timeline
Izmit (Turkey)
These ERS SAR Tandem images were acquired on 12 and 13 August 1999 and show the affected areas of Sapanca Lake and Derince during the earthquake. The images were generated using a Digital Elevation Model corresponding to Interformetric Land Use Image (ILU). The ILU image is an RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) image where the separate (colour) channels are coded to represent the acquisition.
A simplified understanding of the relationship between the colours in the image and the land surface type is as follows:
  • Red = Interferometric coherence
  • Green = Minimum intensity of the two acquisitions
  • Blue = Intensity change between the two acquisitions
  • Yellow areas correspond to urban centres
Many other features of interest can be seen in the image, for example a railway and a main road connecting Izmit and Adapazari. The course of the fault between the Sapanca Lake and the Izmit Bay can also be easily identified in the center of the image.
The images show that in many of the areas that have been affected by the earthquake there were high levels of interferometric coherence.
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Technical Information
Satellite: ERS-1 & 2
Instrument: Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
Date of Acquisition: 12, 13 August 1999
Orbits: ERS-1: 42229 - ERS-2: 22556
Track / Frame: 157 / 815
Acquired by: Fucino (Italy)
Landsat-5 TM / 7 ETM+ Images
These Landsat-5 TM and 7 ETM+ images were acquired on 17 and 18 August 1999 and show the affected areas of Istanbul, Darica and Derince during the Earthquake.

This first image from Landsat 7's ETM (acquired in spectral bands 7, 5, 2 on 17 August) shows the area from Istanbul (in the upper left corner of the image) to Derince. The fire at the refinery is indicated by the red arrow.

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This Landsat 5 TM image (acquired in spectral bands 7, 5, 2 on 18 August) shows the area from Darica (on the left side of the image) to Izmit.

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This Landsat 7 ETM image (acquired in spectral bands 7, 5, 2 on 17 August) shows a view of the town of Derince where the refinery complex is visible along with the smoke emerging from it.

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This image is the same as the above Landsat 7 image, but the panchromatic band has been merged with the multispectral band to improve the definition.

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This Landsat 7 15 metre resolution panchromatic multitemporal image was created by superimposing an image from 10 August (before the earthquake) with another image from the 17 August (after the earthquake). The large blue area on the left of the image shows the smoke plume and in the lower right part of the image, along the coastline, two other blue areas indicate changes probably due to a bradyseism phenomenon.

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This Landsat 7 image was acquired on 17 August and presents a detailed view of the town of Darica. The fires caused by the earthquake are visible in yellow-orange.

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This Landsat 5 image was acquired on 18 August and shows the area around Derince. The locations of fires have been highlighted with red circles.

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This Landsat 5 image shows the area around Derince where the refinery is located. The smoke plume from the fire is clearly visible.

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This Landsat 5 image shows the two hot spots of the fires in Derince. The band combination used for the image is 7, 4, 1, to better highlight the source of the fire.

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Technical Information
Satellite: Landsat TM/ETM
Band: 7, 5, 2
Date of Acquisition: 17 and 18 August 1999
Track / Row: 179, 180 / 32
Acquired by: Fucino and Neustrelitz (Italy)
NTV photo of refinery
Damage Maps

These damage maps examine the area around Derince, and provide further context and reference for the satellite images.

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Area Map

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