Early Morning Tsunami Warning Routs Unalaskans


Alaska Earthquake Information Center

A major earthquake near the Aleutian Islands meant a rude awakening Friday morning but no damage for some Alaska residents.

For the second time this summer, residents of the Aleutian Islands evacuated for a tsunami warning. A 6.8  magnitude earthquake hit just before 3:00 AM near Amutka Pass, about 200 miles from Unalaska. The wave was supposed to hit the community shortly after 4:00 AM.

Jorel Burkholder and his fiancée Alyssa Sensky were among those woken from their beds.

Residents were able to return home when an all-clear was given at 4:12. According to the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, no destructive wave was recorded and the region is no longer in danger. That’s because the quake hit at a depth of 24 miles. It’s also because the quake turned out to be smaller than expected – initial readings had the quake at a
magnitude of 7.1, and the number was later revised down to 6.8. A representative with the United States Geological Survey says that the water level only rose about two centimeters in Atka, which was also evacuated.

While this morning’s earthquake was significant in its own right, it was actually an aftershock of another quake that had hit the region in June. Natasha Rupert is a seismologist with the Alaska Earthquake Information Center, and she says that it’s unusual to have an aftershock that big come so long after the original earthquake.

Meanwhile, that aftershock has had plenty of its own aftershocks. There have been 10 tremors with a magnitude of 3.5 or higher in the Fox Islands region in the past 9 hours, but none of those have been powerful enough to trigger their own tsunami warning. The most recent one was a magnitude 5.2-aftershock that hit at about 10:30. Rupert says that it’s likely that the region will experience more aftershocks in the immediate future.

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