Overview: Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Alaska

damage from the 1964 Alaska EarthquakeThe city of Kodiak following inundation by seismic sea waves caused by the 1964 Alaska earthquake. The small-boat harbor contained an estimated 160 fishing boats when the tsunamis struck, washing vessels into the heart of Kodiak. U.S. Navy


Alaska experiences more earthquakes each year than any other state in the United States, and is located in one of the most seismically active regions in the world. There are about 20,000 earthquakes in Alaska every year (Alaska Earthquake Center). “Great” earthquakes (larger than magnitude 8) happen in Alaska on average once every 13 years, while magnitude 7 to 8 earthquakes occur on average once every year.

The second strongest earthquake on record occurred in Alaska on March 27, 1964, with a magnitude 9.2. The Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 and its aftermath killed over 100 people, injured many more, and forever changed our understanding of earthquakes. Among the most devastating effects of earthquakes are tsunamis, which caused the majority of deaths in the 1964 Alaska earthquake. In Alaska, it is extremely important to understand earthquakes and tsunamis, their causes, the hazards they can produce, and what to do before, during, and after one of these events.

How to Report an Earthquake

If you feel a major earthquake, take the steps below first and report it only when you are safe. For a minor earthquake, report it on the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program website.

What You Should Do Before, During, and After an Earthquake




What You Should Do Before, During, and After a Tsunami




For more detailed information on earthquakes and tsunamis check out the Alaska Earthquake Center publication Are You Prepared for the Next Big Earthquake in Alaska?

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