Tuesday’s 7.9 quake (on 1/23/18) got a lot of attention, so it’s a good time to talk about earthquakes in Alaska. Thanks to our position on the Pacific Rim, we have several faults and earthquakes are quite common here. Our biggest and most famous earthquake is the ’64 or Good Friday quake (on March 27, 1964), which registered 9.2 on the Richter scale and did a lot of damage in Southcentral and the Gulf of Alaska. (See my previous post at http://lynnlovegreen.com/the-1964-earthquake/.) It helped prove the theory of tectonics was correct, and we’ve become more sophisticated in our science concerning earthquakes since then.
Government agencies monitor earthquakes and provide information as needed, depending on the situation. The National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, AK was created as a result of the ’64 earthquake, and is currently under the National Weather Service. It is responsible for gathering information and issuing tsunami warnings for the U.S. and parts of Canada. The Alaska Earthquake Center at University of Alaska Fairbanks operates monitoring stations throughout the state, and provides information to the public. Unfortunately, its power was knocked out by heavy snow on power lines Tuesday, and they can’t afford a backup power system, so their response was delayed this time around, but they do have accurate information. The USGS (United States Geological Survey) Earthquakes Program researches earthquakes and has been developing an early warning system. More seismic stations and telecommunications are planned.
In the case of Tuesday’s earthquake, tsunami alerts were sent based on the information the Center had at the time, and cancelled once they realized the strike-slip earthquake did not generate any tsunamis. Maybe it was valuable practice for a real emergency—now we are an idea of how the alerts and evacuations would go. Perhaps it’s good for us to get a bit shaken up (pun intended) if it makes us take the risks seriously and get prepared for The Big One. I have my emergency supplies ready—do you?
Thanks to the scientists who study these earthquakes and provide valuable information to keep us safe. Another example how how important science is in our lives—let’s support it!