State seismologist Michael West says aftershocks from last night’s magnitude 7.1 earthquake in Alaska could easily continue for weeks, the Associated Press (AP) reported. He added that it was the strongest earthquake to rock the state’s south-central region in “decades.”
“Last night’s earthquake is significant because it was close enough to Alaska’s population centers.”
This news comes despite the fact that Alaska is used to experiencing earthquakes in other areas, such as a massive 7.9 recorded during 2014 in the more remote Aleutian Islands.
Prelim M7.1 earthquake Southern Alaska Jan-24 10:30 UTC, updates https://t.co/Wd5a9CQzH9— USGS Big Quakes (@USGSBigQuakes) January 24, 2016
Fortunately, no reports of injuries came in following the quake that occurred very early Sunday morning, although items were knocked off shelves, roadways were damaged in various places, thousands lost power, a few schools sustained minor damage, and at least four homes were lost in explosions or fire.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake struck about 86 miles west-southwest of Anchor Point at 1:30 a.m. local time Sunday morning on the west side of Cook Inlet. This is 160 miles southwest of Anchorage, which has a population of nearly 400,000, and just 65 miles west of Homer, which has a population of more than 5,300 people.
Following Sunday’s earthquake, Alicia Vin Zant posted photos on her Instagram account showing a busted up roadway in Kasilof, which lies about three hours southwest of Anchorage.
There were several more serious reports of damage, according to the City of Kenai Fire Department’s, which posted images on its Facebook page of house fires that resulted from the quake.
The department also posted that it evacuated more than a dozen homes in the area due to “multiple gas line ruptures” and that a shelter had been established at the National Guard armory for residents affected by the fires.
The earthquake also caused items to fall from shelves and walls, shaking buildings and everything else in its path as it rippled across this part of Alaska, but was not expected to cause a tsunami, according to The Alaska Dispatch.
“Facebook and Twitter users reported scattered power outages around the region from the quake, which continued for about 30 seconds, and was strong enough to knock objects off shelves in homes and stores around the region.”
In fact, Accuweather reported that at least 10,000 customers were without power in and around Anchorage following the Sunday’s early morning earthquake. There were also outages in Willow and several feeder outages in the Palmer area of Alaska. In addition, more than 4,800 customers of the Homer Electric Association were without power.
A series of aftershocks reportedly followed the earthquake, keeping already-frayed nerves on edge throughout south-central Alaska. This included a magnitude 4.7 quake that hit the region about four hours after the initial tremors and could once again be felt throughout Anchorage. The Alaska Earthquake Center at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks has already recorded at least 15 aftershocks since the major quake, but West says a magnitude 5 or magnitude 6 aftershock is also a real possibility.
To date, the largest earthquake recorded in this part of Alaska was a 9.2 magnitude, which resulted in a terrible tsunami in March of 1964, killing more than 130 people. Sunday’s quake was still no petty occurrence and was felt by people as far as 170 miles away from the epicenter.
The quake also spurred fears that an earthquake in the region could potentially send massive tsunami waves over land in Washington and Oregon, which some believe could trigger the eruption of Mt. Hood, reported Express.
“Details of the seismic scare emerged just days after 1,200 people were forced to flee their homes in Indonesia and flights to Russia were cancelled after two large volcanoes erupted.”
Speculation was also fueled by reports of a reading taken from an ocean buoy in Alaska that showed the water levels falling sharply after the quake, which could signal a severe land sink.
[Photo by: Lance King / Getty Images]