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5.5 Earthquake Felt Across Interior, SouthCentral

Alaska Earthquake Center
Alaska Earthquake Center

Interior residents felt a 5.5 magnitude earthquake this morning. The Alaska Earthquake Center at University of Alaska Fairbanks reported the quake about 15 miles southwest of Cantwell at 9:10 a.m.

The town closest to the epicenter is Cantwell, at the intersection of the Parks and Denali Highways.

Stephanie Stevens, cashiering at Vitus general store in Cantwell, says she saw no damage.

“Everybody in town felt it, here in Cantwell. Our door opened and closed, but that’s about it. Nothing fell.”

Over at his towing company, Zack Russell says the quake lasted about 10 seconds.

 “Oh, I was sitting here drinking coffee. My little brother from Florida went running outside. He thought the roof was coming down. It’s just not familiar with earthquakes no, it was a little shaker. But it was nothing to write home about though.”

The US Geological Survey encourages people to file a “Did you feel it?” report on their website. Alaskans reported feeling this morning’s quake as far away as Wasilla, Anchorage and Valdez. No significant damage has been reported.

Dr. Stephen Holtkamp with the Alaska Earthquake Center says this earthquake was fairly deep in the Earth.

“Our preliminary estimates are something like…fifty miles or so, so I think this is an earthquake in the down-going slab that’s connected to the subduction zone in the south end of Alaska.”

Holtkamp says that subduction zone, where one tectonic plate slides under another, is the same one that caused the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964.

The earthquake felt as far away as Fairbanks, Seward, and Valdez.  Holtkamp says the depth of this earthquake is a factor in how widely it was felt.

“Deep events can be felt quite a ways away.  Seismic waves travel pretty efficiently through the deeper Earth—through the Earth’s mantle.  There’s not a lot of attenuation as those waves travel.”

Aftershocks from this event are likely, Holtkamp says.

Dan has been in public radio news in Alaska since 1993. He’s worked as a reporter, newscaster and talk show host at stations in McGrath, Valdez and Fairbanks. Dan’s experience includes coverage of a wide range of topics, from wolf control to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and dog mushing.