Strong earthquake with magnitude 6.7 hits near Denali National Park, jolting much of Alaska

Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2002

PALMER, Alaska (AP) -- A strong, shallow earthquake shook a broad swath of Alaska early Wednesday, waking people and knocking items off shelves, but causing no major damage or injuries.

The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.7, hit at 3:27 a.m. and was centered about 30 miles southeast of Denali National Park. The quake shook residents in Fairbanks, 85 miles north of the epicenter and Anchorage, 170 miles to the southwest, said Bruce Tanner, a seismologist with the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer.

The quake occurred at a depth of about six miles below the earth, relatively shallow, said Guy Urban a geophysicist with the tsunami center.

''That's why so many people felt it. There was a lot of surface radiation. The real deep ones don't produce a lot of surface radiation,'' Urban said.

The observatory was deluged with calls about the quake, Turner said.

In Healy, just north of the park, Grandview Bed and Breakfast co-owner Shelly Acteson said the quake knocked just about everything off her walls and shelves and was frighteningly loud.

''Usually they kind of roll, you can kind of hear them coming,'' she said. ''This one sounded like it was kind of mad -- boom, boom, boom.''

Kathie White, co-owner of the Backwoods Lodge outside Cantwell, a hamlet of about 200 people 36 miles from the epicenter, said the quake roused the residents and shook items off her shelves but no one was hurt.

''Just a good shaker,'' she said.

The quake was also felt strongly in Talkeetna, about 100 miles southwest of the epicenter. Kris Mahay, who manages Nagley's general store, said the quake sent bottles of wine and canned goods crashing to the floor.

''I had a mess in the liquor store,'' Mahay said. ''If it went on any longer or any harder it would have been bad because everything was on the edge of the shelf.''

The quake was too far from water to generate a tsunami, or seismic sea wave, but it was felt as far as 350 miles from the epicenter, Turner said.

The magnitude of an earthquake reflects an analysis of seismic waves and the amount of earth slippage over the area of the fault. An earthquake of 6 can cause severe damage and a magnitude 7 quake is considered major and capable of widespread, heavy damage.

The ''Good Friday'' earthquake in Alaska that left 131 people dead in 1964 measured 8.5 on Richter scale. Current measures put the magnitude at quake at 9.2.


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