The Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964

Published March 26, 2014
In this March 27, 1964 photo released by the U.S. Geological Survey, a man looks over fissures following an earthquake in the Seward Highway at the head of Turnagain Arm near Anchorage, Alaska.
In this March 27, 1964 photo released by the U.S. Geological Survey, a man looks over fissures following an earthquake in the Seward Highway at the head of Turnagain Arm near Anchorage, Alaska.
In this March 30, 1964 file photo, Anchorage small business owners were going full tilt clearing salvagable items and equipment from their earthquake-ravaged stores on shattered Fourth Avenue in Alaska, in the aftermath of an earthquake.
In this March 30, 1964 file photo, Anchorage small business owners were going full tilt clearing salvagable items and equipment from their earthquake-ravaged stores on shattered Fourth Avenue in Alaska, in the aftermath of an earthquake.
In this March 29, 1964 file photo, a soldier crosses Fourth Avenue, the main street in Anchorage, Alaska, a city under martial law following the devastation visited upon it by an earthquake.
In this March 29, 1964 file photo, a soldier crosses Fourth Avenue, the main street in Anchorage, Alaska, a city under martial law following the devastation visited upon it by an earthquake.
In this March 1964 photo released by the U.S. Geological Survey, tsunami damage is shown along the waterfront in Kodiak, Alaska.
In this March 1964 photo released by the U.S. Geological Survey, tsunami damage is shown along the waterfront in Kodiak, Alaska.
In this March 1964 photo released by the U.S. Geological Survey, Anchorage small business owners clear salvagable items and equipment from their earthquake-ravaged stores on shattered Fourth Avenue in Alaska in the aftermath of an earthquake.
In this March 1964 photo released by the U.S. Geological Survey, Anchorage small business owners clear salvagable items and equipment from their earthquake-ravaged stores on shattered Fourth Avenue in Alaska in the aftermath of an earthquake.
In this March 28, 1964 file photo, with the city under martial law, soldiers patrol a downtown street in Anchorage, Alaska. In bacground is the wreckage of the five-story Penney store at Fifth Avenue and D Street.
In this March 28, 1964 file photo, with the city under martial law, soldiers patrol a downtown street in Anchorage, Alaska. In bacground is the wreckage of the five-story Penney store at Fifth Avenue and D Street.
In this March 1964 photo released by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Government Hill Elementary School is shown destroyed by a landslide following an earthquake in Anchorage, Alaska.
In this March 1964 photo released by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Government Hill Elementary School is shown destroyed by a landslide following an earthquake in Anchorage, Alaska.
In this March 29, 1964 file photo, a photographer looks over wreckage as smoke rises in the background from burning oil storage tanks at Valdez, Alaska, March 29, 1964.  The city was hit hard by the earthquake that demolished some of Alaska's most picturesque and largest cities.
In this March 29, 1964 file photo, a photographer looks over wreckage as smoke rises in the background from burning oil storage tanks at Valdez, Alaska, March 29, 1964. The city was hit hard by the earthquake that demolished some of Alaska's most picturesque and largest cities.

North America's largest earthquake rattled Alaska 50 years ago, on March 27, 1964, killing 15 people and creating a tsunami that killed 124 more from Alaska to California. The magnitude 9.2 quake hit at 5:30 p.m on Good Friday, turning soil beneath parts of Anchorage into jelly and collapsing buildings that were not engineered to withstand the force of colliding continental plates. This earthquake remains the second largest earthquake ever recorded in the world. after the magnitude 9.5 earthquake in Chile in 1960. The duration of the rupture lasted approximately 4 minutes.

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