A magnitude 7.2 tremor devastated the Turkish city of Ercis on October 23, 2011. The casualty figure is approaching 250 souls at this time.
Ercis is located in eastern Turkey in the district of Van and on the northeast shore of Lake Van. The area is part of the mountainous region of Anatolia, now divided between Turkey and Armenia. The region lies within a belt of within a belt of active mountain building and volcanism that extends from the Mediterranean region, through Turkey and southern Asia to the circum-Pacific Ring of Fire. This active belt also links to the active fault system running south through Lebanon and the Jordan rift valley to the Red Sea and the East African rift valleys.
The Ercis Earthquake accompanied movement of the Ercis Fault, which runs roughly ENE-WSW along the northeast shore or Lake Van.
Ercis lies about 110 km (70 miles) southwest of Agri Dagi (39° 42′ 0″ N, 44° 16′ 48″ E), elevation 5,165 meters (16,945 ft), which is the traditional Mount Ararat and the target of several hopeful expeditions to recover remains of the Ark.
Agri Dagi itself is a snow-clad strato-volcano that lost its original summit (around 6,000 meters) in a relatively recent explosive eruption. A blister dome has partially filled the resulting asymmetrical summit crater. This late phase of volcanism ended in 1840.
The identification of the mountains of ‘Ararat (Genesis 8:4) with the ancient mountain kingdom of Urartu (2 Kings 19:37) depends on linguistic evidence of its derivation through Assyrian from the Akkadian Urastu. The Urartians named their home Bianili.
The kingdom of Urartu flourished between about 1200 and 575 BC, and extended at its peak southeast into the Caucasus Mountains and east into Iran. Although hostile to Assyria, Urartians adopted Assyrian cuneiform script.
The historian Philostorgius (ca. 425 AD) receives credit for originally placing Noah’s landing site at Agri Dagri on the basis of his research in Constantinople’s libraries. Turkish authorities recognize a nearby site with a more congenial elevation of about 6,000 feet.