TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — A geology professor at the University of Alabama from Turkey has insight into the earthquakes similar to the ones that hit Turkey and Syria this week.

Dr. Ibrahim Cemen said back-to-back earthquakes, like the two major ones to impact that region, happened when he studied the events back in 1999 when one struck near his home in Istanbul.

Cemen said when he initially started studying earthquakes in the 80s, he learned that this phenomenon was not typical at that time.

“We used to think it is unusual but not anymore,” Cemen said. “That’s actually a big finding. Eventually, they are going to help us to better predict earthquakes.”

In 1999, Cemen said when he went out to survey the damage with his team, they discovered there were two major earthquakes that happened then just seven seconds apart. This week, there was a nine-hour difference between the two quakes.

Earthquakes are more common in this area of Turkey because it falls along the East Anatolian Fault Line. Right now, Cemen said there is no way to predict earthquakes because the science to do so is still in its infancy stages.

“We don’t know exactly when those faults are going to get fractured and create big earthquakes,” Cemen said. “The reason for this is because our earth’s crust is so heterogeneous.”

According to Cemen, the death toll from Monday is likely to continue to rise because the first earthquake happened during the night while people were sleeping. He said building structures in Turkey are not like skyscrapers with steel here – they can be 10 to 12 stories of concrete which will crumble and fall in on itself.

The American Red Cross said it is on standby waiting to get an official request for blood products that must follow specific international guidance to send overseas. Officials said if you’re looking to donate supplies, make sure you do so through the Turkish Embassy and Turkish Consulates.