Earthquakes are a fairly common in Alaska. There are on an average 10,000 small and big earthquakes that take place in every year here. This consists of one earthquake of high magnitude i.e. 7-8 and forty-five of a little lesser magnitude i.e. 6-7 and the rest are of even lower magnitudes. Alaska is on the tectonic plates that are constantly moving towards and away from each other and this is the reason of the high number of earthquakes in this region. The spots on the South Central Alaska, Anchorage, Fairbank and on the sides of Aleutian Chain are situated on these Pacific and North American plates that are most susceptible to earthquakes.
The people in Alaska are habitual of this situation and the government has taken proper measures in preventing any big damages. People already have emergency kits all throughout the year and the government puts special emphasis on disaster management education.
In 1964, the biggest earthquake in the history of the world was noted in Alaska and was of a very high magnitude of 9.2 and it killed more than hundred residents. There have been many earthquakes since ancient times and the most recent happened in 2016 which was of the magnitude 7.1 and did not cause a lot of damage because the government and people were already ready for it.
Some of the effects that have been seen on the Alaskan Landscape due to these earthquakes are:
The first thing that is followed by an earthquake is the ground rupture. Due to movement of the plates, the ground breaks into parts. The broken ground can be anywhere and causes extreme destruction. Damage to the buildings and roads can halt the lives of the citizens for a long time and might even kill many.
Landslides and Tsunamis
Earthquake cause shaking in the ground that leads to the movement in the mountains. This eventually leads to the falling of the loose soil and boulders from these mountains causing landslides. Sometimes a part of the land falls off taking with it all the houses or roads and other constructions leading to huge damages.
The earthquake also leads to the underwater movement of land that leads to the Tsunami. Sometimes even landslides occur under the sea water and cause Tsunami. Tsunami also damaged the vegetation even in the higher parts of the states. It also travels to the places farther from Alaska and causes destruction.
The biggest harm that an earthquake can cause is the damage to the infrastructure of a place. Earthquakes in Alaska are of very high magnitude having an even bigger impact. The buildings collapse, roads get broken and other things like electricity and diesel cannot be accessed. This is a loss to the economy of the country as all the activities get halted for a long time. The water pipelines break and the gas pipelines get damaged leading to gas and water leakage which is extremely dangerous to the people.
The water pipes get broken or the water storage gets broken which leads to flooding. Also, the tsunami leads to flooding of a big area because the water gets accumulated in places. Therefore, the dams and big reservoirs get destroyed leading to water spillage and eventually floods. Earthquakes are also capable of altering the path of rivers and make them flow in the opposite direction.
Liquefaction is a phenomenon observed during an earthquake, in which the soil loses its strength and starts behaving as a liquid. This occurs usually in the water-saturated unconsolidated soil. This leads the soil to become sandy and loose. If this happens below a building or some big infrastructure, it will cause the infrastructure to break and succumb to the ground leading to the loss of lives and commodities.
Depending on the intensity of the earthquake, it is possible that the landscape changes completely. The earthquake may lead to the falling of the ground level due to the shifting of one or more plates. It can also lead to the elevation in the ground level by the addition of an extra layer of soil to the ground. Earthquakes are also responsible for creating new habitats such as mountains, lakes, and rivers at the most unexpected places.
These are some of the harmful effects that earthquakes have caused in Alaska. The government of Alaska has taken all the preventive measures in controlling the impact of these earthquakes and the impact has been decreasing year after year.