Strongest-ever earthquake hits Alaska's North Slope region

2018-08-13 13:24
Earthquake wave seismic activity. (iStock)

Earthquake wave seismic activity. (iStock)

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Alaska's North Slope was hit on Sunday by the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the region, the state's seismologist said.

At 06:58 on Sunday, the magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck an area 67km east of Kavik River Camp and 551km northeast of Fairbanks, the state's second-biggest city. The agency says the earthquake had a depth of about 10km.

State seismologist Mike West told the Anchorage Daily News that the quake was the biggest recorded in the North Slope by a substantial amount. "This is a very significant event that will take us some time to understand," he told the Daily News.

The previous most powerful quake in the North Slope was in 1995 at magnitude 5.2, West told the newspaper.

The jump from a 5.2 to Sunday's 6.4 is significant because earthquakes rapidly grow in strength as magnitude rises, he said.

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake is 15.8 times bigger and 63.1 times stronger than a 5.2 earthquake, according to the US Geological Survey.

Several aftershocks

"That's why at 6.4 this changes how we think about the region," West said. "It's a little early to say how, but it's safe to say this earthquake will cause a re-evaluation of the seismic potential of that area."

The magnitude 6.4 earthquake was felt by workers at the oil-production facilities in and around Prudhoe Bay, the News reported.

The newspaper says that Alyeska Pipeline said the earthquake did not damage the trans-Alaska pipeline. The company says in a tweet that "there are no operational concerns" related to the earthquake, but the pipeline will be inspected.

At 07:14, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake hit another area in northern Alaska. The USGS says the earthquake hit a spot about 549km northeast of Fairbanks.

Several aftershocks were reported across northern Alaska.

The Alaska Earthquake Centre says the earthquakes were felt across the eastern part of the state's North Slope Borough and as far south as metro Fairbanks. The centre adds that there are no reports of damage.

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