Strongest-ever earthquakes hit Alaska’s North Slope region as M6.4 and M6.0 quakes and an unprecedented swarm of more than 200 tremors strike near Kaktovik

Monday, August 13, 2018
By Paul Martin
Aug 13, 2018

A pretty large swarm of more than 200 earthquakes is currently hitting Alaska’s North Slope region. The seismic unrest was triggered by a M6.4 earthquake, 84km SW of Kaktovik, on August 12, 2018. This is the strongest-ever earthquake that hit Alaska’s North Slope region. Since then, more than 200 aftershocks have rumbled the area with several above M4.5 and one reported at magnitude 6.0 seven hours after the first large one. This is the second strongest-ever earthquake that hit Alaska’s North Slope region.

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

At 6:58 a.m. Sunday, the magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck an area 42 miles (67 kilometers) east of Kavik River Camp and 343 miles (551 kilometers) northeast of Fairbanks, the state’s second-biggest city. The U.S. Geological Survey says the earthquake had a depth of about 6 miles (9.9 kilometers).

State seismologist Mike Westsays that the earthquake 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.

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 U.S. Geological Survey.

“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.“

Later Sunday, another magnitude 6.0 earthquake hit at 1:15 p.m. near the city of Kaktovik on Alaska’s North Slope, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The epicenter was (65 kilometers) southwest of Kaktovik, which has about 290 people.

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