Aleutian Islands Seismic Hotspot: 6.3 Magnitude Quake, Large Aftershocks, Volcano Explosion In Under A Week

A strong 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck near the Aleutian Islands on Sunday night per News Miner of Alaska.

Alaska Dispatch reported that the quake was centered 71 miles southwest of the village of Nikolski and 167 miles southwest of Dutch Harbor.

The earthquake hit at 8:49 p.m with a depth of 14 miles. It was downgraded from the original 6.9 magnitude as reported by the Alaska Earthquake Information Center.

By noon on Monday, the area had been rattled by five aftershocks with a magnitude of 5.0 or greater, with a little over a dozen smaller earthquake shocks ranging in magnitude from 3.1 to 4.9, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Aleutian Islands
The Aleutian Islands

The epicenter, near the Fox Islands, part of the archipelago of the Aleutian Islands, is just under 1,000 miles west of Anchorage. Nikolski, with a population of fewer than 20 in the 2010 census, was the only community in the vicinity. There were no reports of damage from the earthquake.

No tsunami was generated by the earthquake or its aftershocks, according to the National Tsunami Warning Center.

Near-constant activity has recently been reported in the Aleutian Islands. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the Fairbanks area of Alaska was hit on August 30, 2014 with a 5.1 magnitude earthquake with two smaller aftershocks, 4.08 and 4.19 magnitude respectively, felt the next morning.

Alaska and the Aleutian Islands are a part of the circum-Pacific seismic belt, and annually this region is prone to more earthquakes than the other 49 states combined according to the USGS.

Moreover, the Aleutian Island Arc is one the planet’s most seismic areas. Eight earthquakes of magnitude 8 or more on the Richter scale were felt in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands during a period from 1899 to 1969.

The Aleutian Islands make up northern arc of the infamous Ring of Fire and are prone to quakes, tidal waves, and volcanic activity.

Sunday’s earthquake was centered 53 miles south of Mount Cleveland, an active volcano located in the Aleutian Islands, 940 miles southwest of Anchorage. The same volcano ignited just six days earlier in an explosion on July 21 per Alaska Dispatch.

Astronaut photo of Mount Cleveland erupting in 2006.
Astronaut photo of Mount Cleveland erupting in 2006.

The USGS recorded a similar explosion in November. In the last 14 years, Cleveland Volcano has produced minuscule lava flows and explosions with ash clouds below 20,000 feet. Prior explosions resulted in launched debris hitting the slope of the cone. Hot avalanches have occurred as well.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory currently lists Mount Cleveland as Color Code “Orange”and Alert Level “Watch,” both of which mean the volcano is “exhibiting heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption.”

Cleveland Volcano forms the western part of Chuginadak Island and is 45 miles west of the small community of Nikolski, home to 15 permanent residents on Umnak Island. The mountain has been kind to the small village, as previous activity has sent plumes in directions away from Nikolski.

There are an astounding 57 volcanoes encompassed within the Aleutian Islands. Fourteen of the 69 islands are volcanic islands.

Coincidentally, reports of “dead and dying mammals, birds and small fish” plaguing the Aleutian Islands were reported by Alaska’s KUCB 89.7 FM on Friday. The cause was not defined, thought to be toxic algae according to scientists of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. However, with an active volcano, a major earthquake, and aftershocks, could there be a different cause?

News of the large earthquake has made headlines around the globe. Even with the aftershocks and preceding volcanic eruption, no damage nor casualties have been reported in the Aleutian Islands as of Monday afternoon.

[Photos courtesy of WQAD, Florida Beaches to the Bering Sea, Wikipedia]