The area of eastern Turkey where Sunday's earthquake struck is one of the most seismically active areas of the world, says CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe, who is also a seismologist.

"Turkey is actually on its own plate, called the Anatolian plate, and so it's bumping and grinding with plates to the north, the Eurasian plate, [and] it's sliding and bumping with the Arabian plate to the south," she said.

In the case of Sunday's quake, two plates slide beside each other, which is referred to as a transform fault.

Wagstaffe said Sunday's 7.2 magnitude quake is considered a major event.

"We only see about 15 earthquakes of this size every year, and many of those happen in unpopulated areas. This is definitely a major earthquake with aftershocks continuing to happen."

Since Sunday's quake, more than 100 aftershocks have hit the area, including at least 30 of magnitude 4.0 or higher.

Survivors left homeless as a result of the quake must also contend with cold nights. Overnight temperatures in the area will sink to the freezing mark over the next several nights.