Anchorage, Alaska – Southern Alaska has been stricken by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake early Sunday, US seismologists said. The Alaska Earthquake Center said it hit on the west side of Cook Inlet, about 65 miles west of the Kenai Peninsula town of Homer and about 160 miles southwest of Anchorage at 1:30 a.m Alaska time. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
About two hours later, 2 smaller earthquakes hit the area again. A magnitude-4.3 aftershock hit the Cook Inlet, the agency said. Then, a slightly stronger aftershock of magnitude-4.7 hit the Cook Inlet at 5.29 a.m. Reports said the earthquake was felt even in far off places and that it was very powerful as the center was very close to populated areas.
Joshua Veldstra, a professional photographer who lives in Homer, said the earthquake lasted about 30 seconds.
“When it hit, it was just soft at first, and it just kept getting bigger,” Veldstra said. “It was one of those moments where you didn’t’ know if it was going to get worse or if it was going to calm down.”
The Alaska Department of Transportation reported that there was road damage near the community of Kasilof; Fire departments received many phone calls about the earthquake; the Kenai Fire Department responded to reports of a gas leak and explosion at a home; and, some communities experienced power outages and gas lines were cut by the shaking ground. However, reports suggest that damage was very limited.
USGS reported the earthquake occurred as the result of strike-slip faulting at intermediate depths, within the subducted lithosphere of the Pacific plate.
This is not the first quake striking the state. Southern Alaska frequently experiences earthquake activity. USGS reported in their website that the shallow interface between the plates of the January 24th, 2016 earthquake was the same location of the second largest earthquake ever recorded in the world, the Great Alaska earthquake of March 27th, 1964 which reached a magnitude of 9.3.
Seventeen different earthquakes of 6 or larger magnitudes have occurred within 250 km of the January 24th, 2016 earthquake. The largest one is a 7.0 aftershock of the Great Alaska earthquake in July 1965. The previous largest intermediate depth earthquake in the region was an M 6.8 event in July 2001, 120 km to the southwest of today’s earthquake.