7.5-Magnitude Earthquake off Alaska and Canada Sparks Tsunami Warnings


A 7.5-magnitude earthquake just after midnight on January 5 generated tsunami warnings along a 700-mile stretch of Alaskan and British Columbian coastline but did not cause significant damage.

The quake’s epicenter was 60 miles west of Craig, which is off the west coast of southeastern Alaska, and “occurred as a result of shallow strike-slip faulting on or near the plate boundary between the Pacific and North America plates,” the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said. “At the location of this earthquake, the Pacific plate is moving approximately northwestward with respect to the North America plate at a velocity of 51 mm/year.”

The tsunami came minutes after the quake, which occurred at midnight on January 4, Alaska Standard Time (1 a.m. January 5 Pacific Standard Time), the Associated Press reported, adding that coastline from Cape Fairweather, Alaska, to Vancouver Island’s northern tip in Canada were all part of the tsunami warning. The warning was canceled after the wave did not raise sea levels significantly, AP said.

Aftershocks were also reported, according to the Alaska Dispatch, one of 4.7 a half hour after the first, followed by a 4.2-magnitude. The initial temblor’s depth was 6.2 miles, the Alaska Dispatch said.

The tsunami-warning area encompassed Haida Gwaii, the island off British Columbia north of Vancouver Island that was hit with a 7.7-magnitude earthquake in October 2012. This is right where super tankers would transport oil funneled by the hotly contested proposed Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C., through pristine First Nations territory.