JAN 25, 2018 5:47 PM PST

Fears of tsunami shake Alaska

A powerful earthquake shook Alaska and triggered a tsunami warning soon after midnight on Tuesday. The alarm came as a cell phone alert to residents along Alaska’s southern coast as well as parts of British Columbia. It read: "Emergency Alert. Tsunami danger on the coast. Go to high ground or move inland. Listen to local news."

Tsunami drills are common among the region and residents knew what to do when the sirens started to wail. Even so, the streets were clogged with thousands of motorists as everyone fled to higher ground. Many took refuge at schools or other temporary shelters to wait out the tense night. The tsunami warnings were lifted by the next morning. Washington state, Oregon, California and as far away as Hawaii and American Samoa were also under a tsunami watch.

Alaskans are grateful the tsunami never struck. "This was a win as far as I could tell," said Marjie Veeder, clerk for the city of Unalaska, which is home to the international fishing port of Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands. "We got advance warning and were so thankful for that."

The earthquake that caused the scare was measured at a magnitude of 7.9 in the Gulf of Alaska, about 170 miles southeast of Kodiak, where the floor of the Pacific Ocean is slowly sliding under the North American continent. According to reports from social media, the quake was felt hundreds of miles away in Anchorage and was unique in that it produced less vertical motion.  More vertical motion raises the probability of an earthquake creating waves to build for a tsunami, said Paul Earle, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.  The region usually receives quakes that cause more vertical motion and increase the chance of a tsunami, he said.

Photo: Weather.com

One such quake occurred in 1964 when a 9.2 magnitude earthquake generated tsunamis that killed 129 people and devastated the area. Residents still remember that scare, which perhaps accounts for the communities’ participation in the most recent evacuation.

Sources: ABC News, CBS News

About the Author
BA Environmental Studies
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 03, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Moon lava pits might be toasty environments for future astronauts
AUG 03, 2022
Moon lava pits might be toasty environments for future astronauts
In a recent study published in Geophysical Research Letters, a collaborative research team from the University of Califo ...
AUG 09, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Tropical ozone hole larger than Antarctic ozone hole
AUG 09, 2022
Tropical ozone hole larger than Antarctic ozone hole
In a recent single-author study published in AIP Advances, Qing-Bin Lu, a scientist from the University of Waterloo in O ...
AUG 17, 2022
Technology
Artificial Intelligence Teaches Microrobots how to Swim
AUG 17, 2022
Artificial Intelligence Teaches Microrobots how to Swim
In a recent study published in Communications Physics, a collaborative team of researchers from Santa Clara University, ...
AUG 26, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Billions Would Die from Starvation After a Nuclear War
AUG 26, 2022
Billions Would Die from Starvation After a Nuclear War
In a recent study published in the journal Nature Food, an international team of researchers discuss how a nuclear war b ...
SEP 03, 2022
Technology
Researchers Develop Computer Chip to Carry Out Variety of Artificial Intelligence Functions
SEP 03, 2022
Researchers Develop Computer Chip to Carry Out Variety of Artificial Intelligence Functions
In a recent study published in Nature, an international research team have created a computer chip, called the NeuRRAM n ...
SEP 19, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Life on Earth: Could More of the Surface Be Habitable?
SEP 19, 2022
Life on Earth: Could More of the Surface Be Habitable?
In a paper recently published in The Astronomical Journal, a group of researchers upended two long-held scientific assum ...
Loading Comments...