Aftershocks continue today after a 4.9-magnitude earthquake struck Alaska’s interior Monday night.
The quake occurred just before 10 p.m., with the epicenter eight miles east of Salcha at a depth of 2.4 miles, which the Alaska Seismological Center described as a shallow depth.
“It was a good, strong tremor,” said seismologist Michael West, adding that he thought there was likely to be minor damage to the buildings.
As of 10:40 a.m. Tuesday, 20 aftershocks had been reported. West said these were small, the largest being 2.5 degrees.
“I’m sure some were felt,” West said of the aftershocks. West said he expects the aftershocks to dissipate in the next few weeks.
The quake itself was felt most severely in the interior – with reports of tremors from Salcha, Fairbanks, the Arctic, Healey, Nenana, Cantwell and Delta Junction – but also in the far south, in Anchorage, Chugiac and even British Columbia.
In Fairbanks, due to its proximity to the epicenter, the motion appeared to be a series of short tremors rather than the rolling motion that a long-range earthquake would generate, according to the Alaska Seismological Center website. The Seismic Research Facility determined that the earthquake was directly under Harding Lake.
“The Harding Lake Seismic Station recorded a ground acceleration of 10%, which is the highest acceleration ever recorded for this event,” states an Alaska Seismic Center site. “At this intensity, there is the potential for minor structural damage near the source of the earthquake.”
The earthquake occurred in the Salcha seismic zone. The Salcha Seismic Zone is a highly seismic zone, which means that earthquakes occur frequently. “It was no surprise,” West said, since the earthquake occurred in an area where earthquakes are routine.
West said the Salcha seismic zone is one of several in interior Alaska.
“The entire area of inland Alaska is compressed from north to south,” he said, explaining that the Pacific plate “slips” into Alaska, essentially crushing the state. The Pacific plate is a tectonic plate under the ocean. Plate stress is the source of most, but not all, earthquakes in the region.
Although the quake wasn’t particularly unusual in size or location, what’s interesting, West said, is that a slightly smaller quake occurred in the same place on July 22. , but it is still interesting from a statistical point of view.
“We will monitor that,” West added.
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