Mother Nature Says ‘Good Morning’!

This (Monday, May 18th) morning started off as the previous three with mainly sunny skies, slightly cool morning temps bound for well above normal evening high temps and light variable air along with a deep silence. I was sitting at my system reviewing some news stories and working on a cup of coffee; in the back of my mind I was prioritizing what I needed to get handled today. Being retired normally leaves me with wide open days in terms of scheduling but Monday’s mean I have to account for my KTNA music show (“Take A Little Trip Back…”) which airs from 20:00 to 21:00. The same is true for Friday evenings when I handle the local newscast although since my accident Thursdays have cropped up in this category as well since I have a morning OT session from 08:00 to 09:00. Because these are in Wasilla, which is 60+ miles to the south, I have to get moving by 06:40 to insure I am on time.

At 07:49 AKDT as I reached for my coffee I heard a distant rumble which reminded me of a jet aircraft spooling up its engines for take-off. This surprised me because usually it is dead silent outdoors during the spring mornings with just the intermittent sounds of the local bird population. Quickly I recognized this was not just noise but rather an earthquake as my monitors began to vibrate in an ‘up/down’ motion. The sound continued to build in sympathy with the vibrations and I could hear many other objects around the house shaking and adding to the din. Just as I was starting to become concerned, maybe 15 seconds into the event, the rumbling subsided as did the vibrations and within a few seconds all was again quiet. The birds had stopped their singing and my German Shepherd Dog – Qanuk – rushed into my tiny office looking for attention and security. Just a moment later I heard my Alaskan Malamute – Anana – walking the steps and joining us. My poor little angel is just coming up on six years of age but already suffers from arthritis and the steep stairs in this place are not her friends so I knew she was a bit disturbed as well. I took a few minutes to soothe and pet both my canine companions all the while telling them ‘everything’s okay’ and ‘it’s just an earthquake’…

My very limited experience with earthquakes was reflected in my guess as to the magnitude; I was thinking it would rank a magnitude between 5.5 and 6.0. However, when the Alaska Earthquake Center at UAF posted this tremblor they initially classed it as a magnitude 4.2 then moved it to a 4.5 before finalizing it at a magnitude 4.26. It was located 14 miles deep and centered just 30 miles SSW of Talkeetna; the relatively shallow depth and close proximity probably caused some of my error in guessing its magnitude. After ‘the Kidz’ were a bit more calm I toured the house and found a few items knocked askew but I’ve seen much worse in past tremblors. All told this was an interesting diversion to a bucolic Monday morning in rural south central Alaska but nothing more.

I knew before I relocated up here Alaska is by far the most seismically active of the fifty states and the Susitna River Valley area is one of the more geologically active in the state.   As such I have learned to both expect and endure periodic tremblors; in fact I must say I take a degree of interest as to their magnitudes, locations and properties.  Some are preceded by noise while others are silent; some show a ‘side to side’ motion while others produce an unmistakable ‘up and down’ sine wave motion and no two are exactly alike.  However, I also remember viewing images in National Geographic of the devastation wrought by the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake which, at a magnitude 9.2, devastated most of Anchorage, Seward, Valdez and many points in between.  I sincerely hope I never experience an event of seismic power but then I am one of many living in a very geologically active area.  Like so much that’s a part of living in ‘The Great Land’ one takes the negatives with the positives…

UAF AEC tremblor data

UAF AEC tremblor data


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