For the second time in two hours, another major earthquake has slammed southeastern Alaska and western Canada, shaking both the Yukon Territory and British Columbia with a M6.4 at a shallow 2.2 km.
The first quake struck at 8:30 eastern US time today, and was quickly followed by FOURTEEN aftershocks of between magnitude 2.5 and 5.2. This latest M6.4 quake, taking place at 10:18 AM eastern US time, dwarfs the others and is a very dangerous sign that something severe is taking place along the west coast of North America.
People in Washington, Oregon and California need to make absolutely certain they have emergency preparations on-hand. This type of earthquake "swarm" tends to shake-loose other unstable seismic areas. For Washington and Oregon, that means the notorious Cascadia Subduction Zone and for California, it means the San Andreas fault.
What is taking place right now in Alaska and Canada is extremely similar to what took place near Japan back in 2011, where, after a Magnitude 7 quake, a staggering magnitude 9.2 struck in the ocean and generated a Tsunami which killed tens-of-thousands in Japan, and unleashed the Fukushima nuclear power plant triple-meltdown.
UPDATE 11:04 AM EDT --
Seismologist Taimi Mulder of the Geologic Survey of Canada says the quakeS occurred on the Fairweather Fault, also known as the Queen Charlotte Fault.
Four major earthquakes have been linked to the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault system in the last century.
In 1927 a magnitude 7.1 (Ms - surface wave magnitude) earthquake occurred in the northern part of Chichagof Island, in 1949 a magnitude 8.1 (Mw - moment magnitude) earthquake occurred along the Queen Charlotte fault near the Queen Charlotte Islands, in 1958 movement along the Fairweather fault near Lituya Bay created a magnitude 7.9 (Ms) earthquake, and in 1972 a magnitude 7.4 (Ms) earthquake occurred near Sitka.
The 1958 Lituya Bay earthquake, which was felt as far away as Seattle, Washington, caused a large rockslide which deposited the contents of an entire mountainside into the bay. The gigantic wave that resulted from this rockslide scoured the shores of the bay down to bedrock and uprooted trees as high as 540 meters above sea level. Fishing boats were carried on the wave at a reported height of at least 30 meters over the spit at the entrance to the bay and tossed into the open ocean.
UPDATE 11:23 AM EDT --
The USGS is now confirming another FOURTEEEN aftershocks from this latest large earthquake. LINK
UPDATE 11:53 AM EDT --
There have now been a grand total of FORTY-THREE earthquakes in southeastern Alaska / western Canada in the last four hours!
UPDATE 2:30 PM EDT --
As the day has progressed, there have continued to be aftershocks on the Alaska-Canada Border. As of 2:30 PM EDT, the total number of quakes in this same are is up to 65.
"SEVERE" EARTHQUAKE STRIKES SOUTHEASTERN ALASKA - WESTERN CANADA - 14 Aftershocks so far!
Original report on today's quakes with full details:
A major earthquake struck at 8:31 AM eastern US time near southeastern Alaska in western Canada and the US Geological Survey (USGS) is saying the shaking was "severe." The quake took place almost at the surface, with instruments saying depth of 0.0 km, meaning the shaking from this quake was felt to the extreme by anyone nearby.
UPDATE 8:50 AM EDT --
The earthquake has been UPGRADED to a Magnitude 6.5 and has now been followed by two Magnitude 3.5 aftershocks in the last fifteen minutes!
The main quake was a serious shock; felt all the way to Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada and southward into British Columbia.
While the Magnitude is measured using the Richter Scale, there is another scale utilized to gauge "perceived shaking." This perceived shaking is called the Mercali Modified Shake Scale and according to the USGS, this morning's quake registered as an "8" on the Shake Scale Index, meaning the "perceived shaking" was "severe" and the likelihood of damage is "Moderate to Severe."
Here is the USGS Shake Scale for this earthquake:
UPDATE 8:58 AM EDT --
A THIRD aftershock has now struck in the same area, this one at magnitude 4.9, significantly more powerful than the three previous aftershocks which registered 3.5 each. This type of serious earthquake along the Pacific "Ring of Fire" could trigger "The Big One" in the Cascadia Subduction Zone to the south of this earthquake location, bringing havoc to the Pacific Northwestern US later today or tomorrow.
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Persons on the West Coast are urged to have emergency supplies like water, flashlights, portable radios with plenty of spare batteries on-hand.
UPDATE 9:03 AM EDT --
A FOURTH aftershock has now struck in the same area, this one registering magnitude 3.8.
UPDATE 9:06 AM EDT --
FIFTH and SIXTH aftershocks have struck within one minute of each other in the same area, the fifth measuring 2.9 and the sixth measuring 3.0
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The earthquakes taking place near southeastern Alaska and in western Canada are so strong, they are being picked-up by seismographs over a thousand miles away at the Yellowstone super-volcano in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming ! ! ! ! The red colored areas of the seismographs shown below register the Alaska quakes at Yellowstone!
UPDATE 9:37 AM EDT --
The USGS is reporting a total of THIRTEEN aftershocks within the past hour. LINK
UPDATE 10:00 AM EDT --
The USGS confirms FOURTEEN aftershocks in the 90 minutes since the initial earthquake. LINK
Scientific Info from USGS
The tectonics of the Pacific margin of North America between Vancouver Island and south-central Alaska are dominated by the northwest motion of the Pacific plate with respect to the North America plate at a velocity of approximately 50 mm/yr. In the south of this mapped region, convergence between the northern extent of the Juan de Fuca plate (also known as the Explorer microplate) and North America plate dominate. North from the Explorer, Pacific, and North America plate triple junction, Pacific:North America motion is accommodated along the ~650-km-long Queen Charlotte fault system. Offshore of Haida Gwaii and to the southwest, the obliquity of the Pacific:North America plate motion vector creates a transpressional regime, and a complex mixture of strike-slip and convergent (underthrusting) tectonics. North of the Haida Gwaii islands, plate motion is roughly parallel to the plate boundary, resulting in almost pure dextral strike-slip motion along the Queen Charlotte fault. To the north, the Queen Charlotte fault splits into multiple structures, continuing offshore of southwestern Alaska as the Fairweather fault, and branching east into the Chatham Strait and Denali faults through the interior of Alaska. The plate boundary north and west of the Fairweather fault ultimately continues as the Alaska-Aleutians subduction zone, where Pacific plate lithosphere subducts beneath the North America plate at the Aleutians Trench. The transition is complex, and involves intraplate structures such as the Transition fault. The Pacific margin offshore British Columbia is one of the most active seismic zones in North America and has hosted a number of large earthquakes historically.
At the southern extent of the mapped region offshore of Vancouver Island lies a complex triple junction between the Pacific, North America, and Juan de Fuca plates (which includes the Explorer and Winona microplates). The Winona microplate experiences little relative motion with respect to North America. Similarly, at its northern extent the Explorer microplate tracks North America plate motion, but is subducting at a rate of 2 cm/yr near its southern extent adjacent to the Nootka Fault. Farther south the main body of the oceanic Juan de Fuca plate converges with and subducts beneath the continental North America plate at a rate of 4.0–4.5 cm/yr. The Explorer microplate is heavily deformed by internal dextral faulting, experiencing frequent moderate-sized earthquakes. During the period from 1973 to 2013, this ~30-km-wide area experienced close to 50 earthquakes of M 5 or greater. The largest of these was a M 6.7 event that occurred on April 6, 1992. On January 5, 2008, M 6.6 and M 6.4 earthquakes struck in this same region just 40 minutes apart, and were separated by less than 20 km along a SE/NW trend that is sub-parallel to the motion of the Pacific plate. Like many other similar events in the region, no damage or casualties were reported for these earthquakes.
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The Queen Charlotte fault trends northwestward from the triple junction region, accommodating approximately 5.5 cm/yr of dextral strike-slip motion along the Pacific:North America plate boundary. The majority of earthquakes associated with the Queen Charlotte fault are purely dextral strike-slip in nature, though occasional earthquakes exhibit a significant thrust component, such as the 1970 M 6.8 event and the 2012 M 7.8 event. Because the Pacific:North America plate motion vector adjacent to the islands of Haida Gwaii is oblique to the plate boundary, the Pacific plate underthrusts the Queen Charlotte terrace and the western margin of the North America plate. The convergent component of the plate vector is accommodated by relative motion between the Pacific plate and the Queen Charlotte terrace, though it is unclear from geophysical evidence how far the Pacific plate extends beneath the North America plate.
The largest earthquake observed along the Queen Charlotte fault was a M 8.0 strike-slip event in 1949, located ~25 km west of the north tip of Haida Gwaii. This earthquake created a minor far-field tsunami, an uncommon occurrence for strike-slip faulting. The 1970 M 6.8 earthquake that ruptured ~30 km south of the southern tip of Haida Gwaii was one of the first large magnitude events in the area to be recognized as having a significant thrust component. More recently the M 7.8 Haida Gwaii earthquake struck adjacent to the south-central portion of the islands on October 28, 2012, and was characterized by oblique thrust faulting, triggering a locally significant tsunami. Only four months later on January 5, 2013, a large strike-slip earthquake (M 7.5) occurred a few hundred kilometers farther north, near the junction of the Fairweather and Queen Charlotte faults. No major structural damage or casualties were reported for either of these recent events.
Continuing north, dextral Queen Charlotte fault motion extends into the Fairweather fault and other inland structures such as the Chatham Strait and Denali faults. The Fairweather fault is a continuation of the Queen Charlotte fault that eventually dies out as it comes onshore into Alaska. The average slip rate of the Fairweather fault is believed to be 4.6 ± 2.0 cm/yr, oriented northwestward. On July 9, 1958, the Fairweather fault experienced its largest documented earth-quake, a M 7.8 event that caused a massive landslide and subsequent water wave in Lituya Bay. The wave caused by the landslide stripped away trees and ground soil up to a height of 520 m, and caused five fatalities.
The Chatham Strait fault trends north-northwest from its origin at the Queen Charlotte fault and Fairweather fault junction. This structure does not appear to be accommodating a significant fraction of plate motion and has not hosted any significant historic seismic activity. Farther north the Chatham Strait fault turns northwestward, transitioning into the Denali fault, which continues through continental North America. The Denali fault had been relatively quiet historically until the 2002 earthquake sequence, when a M 6.6 event was followed 11 days later by a M 7.8 earthquake that ruptured an ~340 km section of the fault system on November 3rd of that year. Despite the large size of the November event, its remote location meant only a small amount of structural damage was observed, with no fatalities and few injuries reported. For three decades prior to the 2002 event, seismicity along the Denali fault was characterized by an average of four M = 3 events per year. However, in the eight months leading up to the mainshock, microseismicity along the Denali fault increased significantly, and 80 small events were recorded.
Near the northern termination of the Fairweather fault, the west-northwest trending Transition fault marks the boundary between the Yakutat terrane and Pacific plate. The Yakutat terrane is a 15- to 30-km-thick igneous plateau that began to subduct at a low angle beneath continental North America 30 to 35 million years ago. Though the Yakutat terrane subducts at a slightly slower rate than that of the Pacific plate, its convergence direction has a slightly more westerly trend, causing compressional deformation along the Transition fault to increase towards the northwest. Extending southward from the Transition fault, the Gulf of Alaska shear zone has experienced a high rate of seismicity historically, with earthquakes reaching M > 7.0. The Gulf of Alaska shear zone is believed to have formed along an old fracture zone or spreading fabric in the oceanic crust, and is an example of intraplate seismicity reflecting high stresses generated by nearby plate boundary processes, in this case immediately to the north , between the Yakutat terrane and Pacific plate. The Gulf of Alaska shear zone hosted a sequence of large earthquakes between 1987 and 1992, consisting of five events of M 6.8 or larger (three of which were M 7.8, M 7.9, and M 7.9).
Within the greater Queen Charlotte fault region (excluding the Alaska-Aleutians subduction zone), more than 150 earthquakes of M 5 or greater have occurred between 1973 and 2013, with only a small fraction of these events rupturing at depths greater than 25 km and none deeper than 35 km. Earthquake epicenters along the Queen Charlotte fault express an east-west asymmetry, with the majority of seismicity occurring toward the eastern slope of the marine terrace near the definition of the Queen Charlotte fault trace. This can be explained by an east-dipping fault plane, evident in moment tensor data for moderate-to-large earthquakes within the transform fault zone.
Recommendations by the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection offer the following tips that all residents take three simple preparedness steps: Get a kit, make a plan, and stay informed”.* Learn how to protect your family and your home,in major crisis.
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