Alaska Day

December 24, 2009 1:45 PM | Alaskan Photo Tours

alaska day

The earthquake and tsunami of 1964 in Alaska

The 1964 in Anchorage, Alaska, earthquake and resulting tsunami struck without warning on Good Friday, 27 March.

It was a quiet spring day in Anchorage, a holiday. The mild seasonal temperatures with a moderate amount of snow on the ground. Children had the day off from school, and customer traffic in the stores downtown was light. Many residents were preparing or enjoying dinner at home. At 5:36 pm a major earthquake began to shake the earth and the earth beneath Southcentral Alaska moved in waves over the next four minutes.

Parents and children slipped, stumbled and fell in the transfer of plants in a panicked effort to get outdoors to escape breaking windows. Two inch cracks appeared on the ground in many places. Roads wrinkled and split and Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage broke and fell 10 feet or more. The Government Hill Elementary School twisted, shifted and became unusable, at a time. The outer wall of the JC Penney building crashed to the street. In the Turnagain residential district the ground liquefied like quicksand, turned, and swallowed up 75 or more households.

The four minute earthquake released energy equivalent to 10 million times the force of a bomb atomic. The mass of the earth and the ocean absorbs most of the force, but manmade structures in the area could not absorb the rest of the force without suffering damage mass. total property damage was estimated at $ 500 million.

Anchorage was crippled as gas lines and water pipes were broken off abruptly. Residents resorted to melting snow for water while awaiting repairs. Four days later, students returned to schools available as life in Anchorage began to recover.

The earthquake

The Alaska earthquake center was located about 75 miles east of Anchorage and about 55 west of Valdez. Began 14 to 16 kilometers deep in the earth's crust, a relatively shallow depth, where the Pacific plate dives beneath the North American plate. The area huge subduction is at the north end of Ring of Fire, a semicircle of volcanic and earthquake activity that defines the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

The earthquake fault, more precisely the thrust fault that caused the Good Friday earthquake stretched 750 miles of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska in Valdez. Plate Pacific moved that day an estimated 25 to 30 feet to the north, diving beneath the North American plate. The grinding of the two massive tectonic plates caused the Alaska earthquake and measured 8.4 on the Richter scale. In recent years, the Alaska earthquake measuring 9.2 was updated in the MW, or the magnitude of the moment the scale as the Richter scale was determined to be inaccurate in measuring very large earthquakes above 8.0. Within a day of the 11 initial major earthquake tremors more than 6.0 or greater struck an already nervous population. In fact, aftershocks continued for nearly a year.

The earthquake caused the ground to move up as much as 25 feet on several Alaskan islands and by nearly 3 feet up in the city of Valdez. In other areas the ground shifted down to 9 meters, for example, in the resort of Portage.

The Alaska earthquake on Good Friday was the strongest earthquake ever recorded in North America. It was the second in the world strongest ever recorded, exceeded in strength by the Mw 9.5 earthquake in Chile on May 22, 1960. The recent earthquake December 26, 2004, off the Indonesian island of Sumatra measured 9.0 Mw. The worst earthquake in Shensi Province, China, in 1556 where over 830,000 people perished.

The tsunami

Tsunami is a Japanese word adapt "harbor wave," a reference to the fact that the danger of the wave and destructive power are apparent only when approaching to the coast.

During the 1964 earthquake in Alaska, the North American plate released upward, displacing a huge volume of ocean water and causes an earthquake, a tsunami, to travel outward. The wave traveled at an estimated 450 miles per hour in the deepest ocean in a long wave of almost imperceptible height.

As the tsunami wave passed over the continental shelf and walked to the edge of its short length, its velocity decreases and its height increases as large weight of water and ready to unleash their incredible power everything in its path.

At the entrance Valdez shallow wave reached a height of almost 200 feet. Later, in the old town of Valdez, a wall of water 30 feet beaten and shot down all the structures. Twenty Valdez residents died when the tsunami crashed into land. Valdez was later rebuilt at higher elevations and farther from the coastline.

In Seward, Alaska, the earthquake caused a portion of the bay slide. The fall caused a local tsunami which devastated Seward's port and downtown district, which were rebuilt over time. Twelve residents perished in Seward.

The small town of Portage was leveled by their own local tsunami and never relocated or rebuilt. Another local tsunami struck the small port of Whittier killing 12 residents.


The original tsunami traveled about 8400 km. Caused damage to the islands of Hawaii and along the coasts of Oregon and California. A 20-foot wave struck Crescent City, California, killing 10 residents. The tsunami was responsible for the deaths of 16 people in Oregon and California.

The tsunami killed a total of 122 people in three states. In comparison, the earthquake caused 9 deaths.

It has been over 40 years since the earthquake and tsunami in Alaska. In the building materials and meanwhile building practices have been applied to produce structures capable of survive strong earthquakes. Also, in the meantime, people in vulnerable areas of Alaska has increased dramatically.

Small subduction zone earthquakes over Alaska and other areas of failure to occur every day, supposedly to relieve internal pressures that would lead to another earthquake.

However, nobody knows with certainty when, where, or if another large earthquake and destructive strike Alaska.

About the Author

Garry Gamber is a public school teacher and entrepreneur. He writes articles about politics, real estate, health and nutrition, and internet dating services. He is the owner of The Dating Advisor and is the National Director of Good Politics Radio.

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