Alaska is one of America’s natural beauties, filled with breathtaking sights of both the natural and man-made variety. However, many people forget that Alaska, like many other parts of the world, experiences earthquakes. While the state doesn’t hold claim to many earthquakes on record, a tremor shook the state on Sunday around 7 a.m.
According to CBS News, the earthquake occurred near the remote North Slope. True to its name, the North Slope is located in the northernmost part of Alaska, and contains little besides its crude oil production. However, the region isn’t unfamiliar with tremors, and has experienced earthquakes before.
The strongest recorded tremor in this area was just a 5.2 magnitude quake in 1995. On Sunday morning, they experienced the most serious one yet. It had a recorded magnitude of 6.4, making it the strongest earthquake in Alaskan history.
This raring makes it 15.8 times bigger and 63.1 times stronger than what this region has experienced before. While we are all familiar with the concept of quakes, it can be difficult to imagine how forceful they can be. When two tectonic plates sit and grind against one another, the effects are more than just a few vibrations. Strong earthquakes likes this one can destroy homes, open up the ground, and destabilize entire buildings.
Thirty minutes of ground motion data from seismic stations across Alaska. The red star is the epicenter, and the dots are stations. The animation includes two aftershocks, a M4.9 at 7:14 am and a M4.7 at 07:18. pic.twitter.com/Q7Wy0ikGRj
— AK Earthquake Center (@AKearthquake) August 12, 2018
Luckily, this earthquake was located in an extremely remote area. There have been no reported loss of life or injury because of it, and most people aren’t even aware that it happened. According to Fox News, the closest town to North Slope is Kaktovik, which only recorded a population around 241 people in 2016.
Despite the distance, workers in a nearby oil-production facility in Prudhoe Bay felt the shakes. While it didn’t do any damage to the Trans-Alaskan pipeline or any other buildings, it’s hard to ignore the implications of this event. Earthquakes aren’t impossible, and we should be properly prepared to handle them.
Shortly after the first tremor, a second one hit. This one was far weaker, only ranking at a 5.1 magnitude, but it struck closer to home. It hit 340 miles northeast of Fairbanks, three miles closer than the previous quake. Many specialists are considering this tremor an aftershock of the larger one that came before it.
While there was no damage or loss of life, Alaskan citizens have still been left shaken by the event. Earthquakes caused over 1,000 deaths last year, even at lower magnitudes. If this tremor had occurred closer to civilization, it could have been catastrophic for the citizens living there.