5.8-Magnitude Quake Rattles Mainland Alaska

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake was felt across much of much of mainland Alaska this afternoon.

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It occurred at 2:34 this afternoon, when Anchorage mayor elect Ethan Berkowitz was live on the radio at KSKA, talking with host Charles Wohlforth and a caller:

“Hi there. I think we’re having an earthquake. We’re having an earthquake right now! I’m getting shook around. Yeah it’s moving around. Let’s see what we can find out about that.”

The earthquake was centered 64 miles west of Willow. Alaskans from a large section of the state — from Seward, Fairbanks, Denali and the Mat Su Valley reported the shaking. State Seismologist Michael West at the Alaska Earthquake Center felt the temblor at his office in Fairbanks. He says the earthquake occurred about 70 miles underground, and that’s the reason it was felt so widely:

“The earthquakes that happen up in the top part of the crust have to travel through all the complexities of the surface of the earth. When they occur down deep, they are spared a lot of that, they travel cleanly through the interior of the earth and then some of those waves show up at their destination.”

West say the depth of the quake also minimizes the chance for any damage. He says the earthquake happened in roughly the same area as a 6.2 quake last September, the most significant shaking in Anchorage in more than a decade.

Photo by USGS.
Photo by USGS.