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Tsunami Warning Lifted After 8.2 Magnitude Earthquake Near Alaska

Alaska Earthquake
The town of Kodiak, near which the earthquake struck. Credit: Katie Walker – Wikipedia – CC BY 2.0

A strong earthquake measuring 8.2 on the Richter scale struck off the coast of Alaska at 06:15 AM GMT on Thursday, prompting a warning for a tsunami, which was subsequently lifted hours later.

The local time in the region was 10:15 PM Wednesday night.

The tremor was particularly shallow with a depth of just 32 kilometers, which is considered low in seismology.

According to the American Geological Survey, the quake’s epicenter was only 104 kilometers southeast of Peryville, near Kodiak, on the southwestern shores of the peninsula. This area is one of the most seismically active areas on Earth.

Peryville is a tiny village approximately 800 kilometers (497 miles) from Anchorage, the largest city of Alaska.

The United States Tsunami Warning System stated initially that ”hazardous tsunami waves for this earthquake are possible within the next three hours along some coasts.”

Alaska Earthquake - tsunami alert
The blue dot is the epicenter of the 8.2R quake. Credit: USGS

According to CNN, residents in the city of Kodiak in the southeastern part of Alaska were advised to evacuate their homes as a precautionary measure.

At first, a tsunami warning was also issued for Hawaii; however, this has now been canceled also.

The 1964 Alaska Earthquake

The tremor brought memories back of the devastating earthquake that struck Alaska in 1964.

The 9.2-magnitude 1964 Alaskan earthquake, also known as the Great Alaskan earthquake, and often referred to as the ”Good Friday earthquake,” occurred at 5:36 PM local time on Good Friday (for Western Christianity), on March 27, 1964.

The quake caused a total of 131 fatalities across the south-central part of Alaska.

This earthquake, which had huge cracks open up in the earth and some which closed again, trapping homes, cars and people, remains the most powerful earthquake recorded in North American history, and the second most powerful earthquake recorded in world history.

Anchorage was not hit by tsunamis at that time, but downtown Anchorage was heavily damaged due to collapsed buildings.

Most coastal towns in the Prince William Sound, Kenai Peninsula, and Kodiak Island areas –where today’s quake struck — were heavily damaged by a combination of seismic activity, subsidence, post-quake tsunamis, and earthquake-caused fires.

The town of Valdez with 32 dead was not totally destroyed, but after three years, the town relocated to higher ground four miles (6.4 km) west of its original site.

There were hundreds of aftershocks in the first weeks following the main quake.

In the first day alone, eleven major aftershocks were recorded with a magnitude greater than 6.0. Similar tremors are expected in Alaska now, as well.

Nine more struck over the next three weeks. In all, thousands of aftershocks occurred in the months following the earthquake, and smaller aftershocks continued to strike the region for more than 300 days after the initial tremor.

Alaska had never experienced a major disaster in a highly-populated area before and had very limited resources for dealing with the effects of such an event.

The United States military, which has a large active presence in Alaska, also stepped in to assist within moments of the end of the quake. The US Army rapidly re-established communications with the lower 48 states, deployed troops to assist the citizens of Anchorage, and dispatched a convoy to Valdez.

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