Remembering the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964

The most powerful earthquake in North America, measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale, occurred on March 27, 1964. The earthquake that began at 5:36 PM local Alaskan time on Good Friday, shook for nearly four minutes, and was followed by tsunamis. The shockwaves also triggered landslides and avalanches. About 131 lives were lost and the damages were estimated to be above 300 million dollars (1964).

The shock, equivalent to about 63,000 atomic bombs was felt in many parts of the world. Anchorage, about 120 miles NW of the epicenter suffered the most damage. Other towns that reported damage were – Chitina, Glennallen, Homer, Hope, Kasilof, Kenai, Kodiak, Moose Pass, Portage, Seldovia, Seward, Sterling, Valdez, Wasilla, and Whittier.

There were 11 aftershocks within 24 hours all registering a magnitude of greater than 6.0.

Chitina, Glennallen, Homer, Hope, Kasilof, Kenai, Kodiak, Moose Pass, Portage, Seldovia, Seward, Sterling, Valdez, Wasilla, and Whittier.
Chitina, Glennallen, Homer, Hope, Kasilof, Kenai, Kodiak, Moose Pass, Portage, Seldovia, Seward, Sterling, Valdez, Wasilla, and Whittier.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. The Four Seasons Apartments in Anchorage was a six-story lift-slab reinforced concrete building which cracked to the ground during the earthquake. The building was under construction, but structurally completed, at the time of the earthquake. The main shear- resistant structural elements of the building, a poured-in-place reinforced concrete stairwell and a combined elevator core and stairwell, fractured at the first floor, toppled over, and came to rest on top of the ruble of all six floors and the roof. 1964.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. The Four Seasons Apartments in Anchorage was a six-story lift-slab reinforced concrete building which cracked to the ground during the earthquake. The building was under construction, but structurally completed, at the time of the earthquake. The main shear- resistant structural elements of the building, a poured-in-place reinforced concrete stairwell and a combined elevator core and stairwell, fractured at the first floor, toppled over, and came to rest on top of the ruble of all six floors and the roof. 1964.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Government Hill Elementary School in Anchorage which was destroyed by the Government Hill landslide.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Government Hill Elementary School in Anchorage which was destroyed by the Government Hill landslide.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Indication of the violence of the surge waves that struck Whittier: man holds mounted ten-ply tire through which a 2 by 6-inch plank of wood has been driven by a wave. Figure 31, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 541; Figure 20 (black and white), U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 542-B.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Indication of the violence of the surge waves that struck Whittier: man holds mounted ten-ply tire through which a 2 by 6-inch plank of wood has been driven by a wave. Figure 31, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 541; Figure 20 (black and white), U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 542-B.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Wreckage of the J.C. Penney Department Store at Fifth Avenue and D Street in Anchorage. The building failed after sustained seismic shaking. Most of the rubble has been cleared from the streets. Photo by G. Plafker, 1964. Figure 5, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 542-A.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Wreckage of the J.C. Penney Department Store at Fifth Avenue and D Street in Anchorage. The building failed after sustained seismic shaking. Most of the rubble has been cleared from the streets. Photo by G. Plafker, 1964. Figure 5, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 542-A.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Fissures in Seward Highway near The Alaska Railroad station at Portage, at the head of Turnagain Arm. Many bridges were also damaged. At some places, tectonic subsidence and consolidation of alluvial materials dropped both highway and railroad below high-tide levels. Photo by U.S. Army. Figure 27, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 541.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Fissures in Seward Highway near The Alaska Railroad station at Portage, at the head of Turnagain Arm. Many bridges were also damaged. At some places, tectonic subsidence and consolidation of alluvial materials dropped both highway and railroad below high-tide levels. Photo by U.S. Army. Figure 27, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 541.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Collapse of Fourth Avenue near C Street in Anchorage due to a landslide caused by the earthquake. Before the shock, the sidewalk on the left, which is in the graben, was at street level on the right. The graben subsided 11 feet in response to 14 feet of horizontal movement. Photo by U.S. Army, 1964. Figure 45, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 541.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Collapse of Fourth Avenue near C Street in Anchorage due to a landslide caused by the earthquake. Before the shock, the sidewalk on the left, which is in the graben, was at street level on the right. The graben subsided 11 feet in response to 14 feet of horizontal movement. Photo by U.S. Army, 1964. Figure 45, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 541.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Control tower at Anchorage International Airport, collapsed by earthquake shaking. Photo by Federal Aviation Agency. Figure 2, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 545-B.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Control tower at Anchorage International Airport, collapsed by earthquake shaking. Photo by Federal Aviation Agency. Figure 2, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 545-B.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Million Dollar Bridge on the Copper River Highway; no. 4 span off no. 4 pier. View is southwest. Photo by R. Kachadoorian. Figure 36, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 545-C.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Million Dollar Bridge on the Copper River Highway; no. 4 span off no. 4 pier. View is southwest. Photo by R. Kachadoorian. Figure 36, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 545-C.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Earthquake-demolished home in Turnagain Heights in Anchorage. 1964.
Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Earthquake-demolished home in Turnagain Heights in Anchorage. 1964.
The resulting tsunami caused much damage to the railroad facilities at Seward Port, Alaska. Rails were stripped from the railroad ties by the tsunami. Most of the Alaska Railroad dock was washed away by the waves
The resulting tsunami caused much damage to the railroad facilities at Seward Port, Alaska. Rails were stripped from the railroad ties by the tsunami. Most of the Alaska Railroad dock was washed away by the waves
Tsunami damage following the earthquake in Kodiak
Tsunami damage following the earthquake in Kodiak

1964 Quake: The Great Alaska Earthquake

Newsreel of the earthquake

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