Tag Archives: earthquake

Cracks along the rails

Quake Update:


Cracks along the rails north of Anchorage; Photo credit: Alaska Railroad

The railroad between Anchorage and Fairbanks remains closed from the recent 7.0 earthquake. There are several sections like the photo above, with cracks that have developed along the rails. The cracks in the photo run 2-4 feet wide, and 200 feet long.

No timetable has been given to a return to rail traffic between Alaska’s two largest cities.

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The on-ramp seen around the globe:


Before/After Minnesota Blvd on-ramp; Photo credit: Alaska Tourism Board

The onramp from Minnesota Blvd to International Airport Road became Alaska’s most famous, with the photo of the SUV left stranded eight feet below grade.

I often make fun of Alaska’s DOT, but they have done a great job, by all accounts, getting Anchorage roads ready to handle traffic again. That interchange was rebuilt, repaved and lines painted in four days. Not bad, considering there was not an asphalt plant up & running at the time. A plant had to reopen, because everything was closed for the winter season.


Anchorage hit with 7.0 Quake


An onramp to International Airport Road from Minnesota Drive in Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage experienced quite the shaker at 8:29am Friday morning. The earthquake was initially pegged at a magnitude 6.6, but was quickly updated to a 7.0 by Friday afternoon.


A stranded SUV on the collapsed onramp

The earthquake was followed by an estimated 5.8 aftershock, and several smaller ones throughout the day on Friday. A tsunami warning was issued immediately for the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island and Cook Inlet. No tsunami developed, and the warning was called off less than two hours later.

Flights into Anchorage International Airport were being diverted to Juneau or Fairbanks. Departures from the Anchorage Airport began again at 11:30am.


Vine Road, just south of Wasilla, Alaska

The epicenter of the quake was 7 miles north of Anchorage, directly across the Knik Arm from Alaska’s largest city. Depth was at 27 miles. There are reports of road damage throughout the area, and several reports of damaged buildings. Residents have called in saying that the Glenn Highway has some sections of severe damage, although there is no official word on that yet. As of this writing, no casualties have been reported.

This is the largest earthquake to hit the Anchorage area, since a 7.1 in 2016. The Friday morning earthquake was much closer to Anchorage and the MatSu Valley, so damage is expected to be higher than 2016.

As of Friday afternoon, Alaska has experienced 43,926 earthquakes in 2018.

Photos credit: Anchorage Daily News


How’s it shaking?


Sensor monitor reading at University of Alaska

Interior Alaskans felt the Earth move a bit on Tuesday morning. It wasn’t a big earthquake, at only magnitude 4.6, but it was widely felt at 7:18am. It’s note worthy, mainly because it has been a couple of years since I felt one pass through.

On Sunday morning, Kaktovik, which is located on the Beaufort Sea coast, woke up to a 6.4 magnitude quake. It was the largest earthquake ever recorded on Alaska’s North Slope.

Earthquakes in Alaska are far from unusual. An earthquake is detected once every 15 minutes, on average, within the state. In 2014, Alaska set a record with over 40,000 shakes. Over the past five years, the Alaska Earthquake Center has reported over 150,000 earthquakes. Of those, 31 had a magnitude over 6.0. and four went over 7.0. Seventy-five percent of all earthquakes over 5.0 within the United States happen in Alaska.

The 7.9 magnitude quake, that hit us in 2002 when the Denali Fault ruptured, is the largest I have experience. The 1964 Good Friday Earthquake was a magnitude 9.2, and it is still the second largest earthquake ever recorded anywhere on the globe.

Graph and stats credit: Alaska Earthquake Center


Nepal

7.8 Magnitude Nepal Quake

As a resident of Alaska, I am well aware of the destructive power of a large earthquake. Along with many other Alaskans, I have experienced a 7.9 magnitude quake. There are still many here who remember what it was like to live through the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964. That 9.2 magnitude quake devastated South Central Alaska.

There are many organizations that are gearing up to offer assistance to the people of Nepal. If you are so inclined, find one that you are comfortable with and help send some relief.

The American Red Cross is just one such organization:
http://www.redcross.org


Chile & Everest

Two acts of Earth’s power was caught on camera recently:

A hiker in Chile was filming a waterfall in Llianquihue National Reserve, when the Calbuco volcano erupted on 22 April. The last time Calbuco erupted was in 1973. The ash plume was sent over 1000 m into the air.

Calbuco erupts
The eruption of Chile’s Calbuco. Photo credit: David Cortes Serey/AFP/Getty Images

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A German climber, Josh Kobusch, was on Mt Everest when the 7.8 magnitude Nepal earthquake struck, triggering an avalanche which roared into the Everest Basecamp on Saturday. Kobusch’s footage of the avalanche is the first to come off of the mountain. At least 18 people died on Everest from the avalanche and over 3300 people have died due to the earthquake overall.

The 7.8 quake was the worst to hit Nepal since the 8.0 that struck in 1934, which all but wiped out the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.

Nepal Earthquake
Destruction from the 7.8 earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal. Photo credit:REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar


Scotch Cap Lighthouse

Scotch Cap Lighthouse 1903
The Scotch Cap Light in 1903.

The Scotch Cap Light was the first lighthouse on the outer coast of Alaska. It was built on Unimak Island in the Aleutian Chain in 1903.

Scotch Cap Lighthouse
Scotch Cap Light in 1940

In 1940, a new Scotch Cap Light was built out of reenforced concrete and a fog signal was added. From the beginning, the lighthouse was the scene of several shipwrecks, including the Columbia in 1909, which forced the crew of 194 to spend two weeks on Unimak as guests of the lighthouse keepers until they could be rescued. And in 1930, a Japanese freighter became lost in a snowstorm and beached in front of the light.

The 1946 Aleutian Islands Earthquake hit the chain of islands on April 1 of 1946. The 8.1 magnitude quake generated a Pacific wide tsunami. The massive wave wiped Scotch Cap Light right off the face of Unimak Island. Anthony Petit, the lighthouse keeper, and his five man crew were killed by the wave that is estimated to have been at 130 feet high.

Unimak Island 1946
Unimak Island after the 1946 tsunami.

The tsunami that resulted from the Aleutian Earthquake killed 165 people: 159 in Hawaii and six in Alaska. It took the tsunami 4.5 hours after the quake to hit Kauai and 4.9 to strike Hilo, causing over $26 million in damage. After the destructive tsunami, the Seismic Sea Wave Warning System was established in 1949, eventually becoming the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Hilo 1946 Tsunami
Residents of Hilo, Hawaii fleeing the 1946 tsunami.

Photos of Unimak and Scotch Cap courtesy of USCG. Hawaii photo courtesy of NOAA


Whole Lotta’ Shakin’

Jerry Lee Lewis in 1957

Alaska rattled its way into another record during 2014. The Alaska Earthquake Information Center recorded 40,686 earthquakes in Alaska in 2014. The previous high of 32,000 was attained in 2003; 2013 saw 28,000 shakers within Alaska.

Some notable quakes among the 40K:

• The Noatak-area “swarm,” a series that saw five earthquakes greater than magnitude 5 strike the northwest Brooks Range from April to June.
• A magnitude 7.9 quake in the Rat Islands on June 23, the largest in Alaska since 2002.
• A magnitude 6 earthquake under Seward Glacier in the Saint Elias mountains on July 17.
• Another magnitude 6 quake, this time in Palma Bay in Southeast, on July 25.
• The 5.2 magnitude earthquake near Minto on Aug. 30 that gave Fairbanks a jolt.
• A 6.3 magnitude quake near Skwentna on Sept. 25 that caused several buildings in downtown Anchorage, 80 miles away, to be evacuated as a precaution.

All information and statistics come courtesy of the AEIC.
Their site: http://www.aeic.alaska.edu