Earthquake felt on Kenai Peninsula

Wednesday, 6 p.m.:

 

There have been no reports of damage near the epicenter of an Alaska earthquake that registered at 5.8 on the Richter scale, said Ian Dickson, a research technician at the Alaska Earthquake Information Center.

“There’s not much out near the epicenter,” Dickson said. “It’s off the road system.”

Alaska Earthquake Information Center Director Michael West is a state seismologist. Wednesday’s earthquake was caused when pressure being exuded on the Pacific Plate, which is a tectonic plate wedged underneath the North American Plate, gave way, he said.

Since the North American Plate is above the Pacific Plate, it is much closer to the earth’s surface. West said many small earthquakes commonly occur in this shallow layer of the earth’s crust. 

Alaska experiences 100 to 120 every day in Alaska, but are most often too small to be felt, West said.

“This earthquake occurred in the Pacific Plate,” West said. “It was notable today because it was felt very widely.”

The Pacific Plate is some 100 kilometers below earth’s surface, and is constantly pushing further underneath Alaska, West said. Earthquakes that occur in that layer tend to be larger.

West said the fact that the quake originated far from any cities and in the deeper tectonic plate, made it slightly less significant as far as earthquakes go.

Many Alaskans do not know what big earthquakes actually feel like because they are rarely in close proximity to the epicenter, West said.

Under the right conditions, earthquakes with 5.8 magnitudes can kill people, West said.

“Had a magnitude 5.8 earthquake occurred in the shallow part of the earth in downtown Anchorage, we’d have buildings on the ground today,” West said. “We get lucky again and again in Alaska because…most earthquakes don’t really intersect with our populations.”

 

Wednesday, 3:45 p.m.:

 

The Alaska Earthquake Center is reporting the earthquake that occurred at 2:32 p.m., originated at a depth of 71 miles, registered at 5.8 on the Richter scale, and had its epicenter 81 miles North-Northwest of Kenai.

 

Wednesday, 2:40 p.m.:

 

An earthquake near Anchorage on Wednesday registered as 5.6 on the Richter scale.

The quake occurred at approximately 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, about 75 miles northwest of Anchorage, said Dara Merz, a research technician with the Alaska Earthquake Information Center.

“From what it looks like, it was most likely in the subduction zone,” Merz said. “The subduction zone is when the oceanic plate is subducting underneath the North American plate.” A subducting plate is one moving below another.

Merz said the data from the earthquake is still being processed, so its exact location and impact are close estimates at this point, and may change.

This is a breaking story. More information will be posted as it becomes available.

 

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com

 

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