The Good Friday Earthquake

64 Quake Map

It was 50 years ago today, at 5:36pm AST, when the megathrust earthquake hit southern Alaska. The ground shook for over 4 minutes, causing tsunamis that wiped out coastal villages before the shaking stopped. The magnitude 9.2 quake remains the largest to be recorded in North America. In the five decades since, no earthquake has matched the power of the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake.

Kodiak, AK after Good Friday Quake
Kodiak after the 1964 Alaska Quake. Note the green Willys Wagon!

139 lives were lost (tsunami 124, earthquake 15), which, considering the magnitude of the quake, is amazingly low. The maximum tsunami wave height recorded was 67 meters (220 feet) at Shoup Bay in the Valdez Inlet. The community of Valdez was wiped out. Kodiak, Seward, Portage, Anchorage, Chitina, Glenallen, Hope, Homer, Moose Pass, among others, all saw severe damage.

4th Ave Anchorage B&W
4Th Avenue, Anchorage after the ’64 Quake

In the day following the earthquake, there were 11 major aftershocks that reached a magnitude of 6.2 or higher. There were thousands of aftershocks in the three weeks after the main shock, and it was a year later when the aftershocks were no longer noticed.

Seward Hwy 64 Quake
The Seward Highway, March 28, 1964

Color graphic courtesy of Live Science, photos courtesy of the University of Alaska Archives.

About icefogger

Just a basic, down to Earth, laid back type of guy here, who loves the outdoors, the indoors, jazz on the turntable, a fire in the woodstove, the northern lights blazing across the sky, and the company of good friends. View all posts by icefogger

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