Tremor was so powerful the tectonic plates beneath Ankara have slipped in relation to Syria, experts say

Massive earthquakes that hit Turkey on Monday have shifted the tectonic plate it sits on by up to 10 feet (three metres), experts say.

The country lies on major faultlines that border the Anatolian Plate, Arabian Plate and Eurasian Plate, and is therefore prone to seismic activity.

Meteorologists revealed that an 140 mile (225 km) stretch of the fault between the Anatolian Plate and the Arabian Plate has ruptured.

Italian seismologist Dr Carlo Doglioni told news site Italy 24 that as a result, Turkey could even have slipped by up to ‘five to six metres compared to Syria‘.

However, he added that this was all based on initial data, and more exact information would be available from satellites in the coming days.

Dr Bob Holdsworth, a professor of structural geology at Durham University, said the plate shift was ‘perfectly reasonable’ given the magnitude of the earthquake.

He told MailOnline: ‘There is a fairly predictable, widely documented relationship between the magnitude of an earthquake and the typical offset that occurs.

‘As a rule of thumb, a magnitude 6.5 to 6.9 event is associated with an offset of around one metre – whilst the largest known earthquakes can involve offsets of 10 to 15 metres.

‘The faults that slipped yesterday in Turkey are strike-slip faults that involve mainly horizontal displacements, and so the overall offsets in the region of 3 to 6 metres proposed here are perfectly reasonable.

‘Horizontal offsets of this kind can lead to the severing of major subsurface and surface infrastructure, including water mains, electricity cables, gas pipelines and tunnels.

‘There may also be surface ruptures developed where the faults break through to the surface – these can offset roads, rivers and other features – including built structures.

‘All this is in addition to the damage caused by shaking, liquefaction of soft sediment in valleys/basins and landslides.’

Catastrophic earthquakes are caused when two tectonic plates that are sliding in opposite directions stick and then slip suddenly.

They are composed of Earth’s crust and the uppermost portion of the mantle, while below is the asthenosphere, the warm, viscous conveyor belt of rock on which tectonic plates ride.

They do not all move in the same direction and often clash, which builds up a huge amount of pressure between the two plates.

Eventually, this pressure causes one plate to jolt either under or over the other.

This releases a huge amount of energy, creating tremors and destruction to any property or infrastructure nearby.

Severe earthquakes normally occur over fault lines where tectonic plates meet, but minor tremors – which still register on the Richter sale – can happen in the middle of these plates.

Turkey is close to the intersection of three tectonic plates, meaning it is prone to earthquakes.

Dr Anastasios Sextos, a professor of earthquake engineering at the University of Bristol, told MailOnline: ‘The area of Aleppo and Gazientep have experienced a series of historically devastating earthquakes and an event of similar magnitude occurred about two centuries ago.’