5.4 earthquake shakes Southcentral Alaska

5.4 earthquake shakes Southcentral Alaska

A 5.4 magnitude earthquake rocked Southcentral Alaska on Tuesday, shaking a region already rattled by a series of seismic events in recent weeks.

The temblor struck at 8:52 a.m. local time and its epicenter was located roughly 25 miles northeast of Anchorage, according to the Alaska Earthquake Center. It was preceded by a 3.2 magnitude foreshock that occurred eight minutes earlier.

The quake was felt as far away as Fairbanks and Seward, according to the center, which recorded more than 1,400 reports of people feeling the seismic activity.

The relatively shallow depth of the quake — 23.8 miles below the surface — contributed to its wide-reaching effects.

“It was a good shake,” said Michael West, the state seismologist. He noted that the earthquake was not large enough to cause significant damage, but it was strong enough to elicit a response from the public.

The event marked the most powerful of a string of seismic disturbances that have rumbled through the state in recent weeks.

The Alaska Earthquake Center has logged more than 1,400 earthquakes in the region since May. The vast majority of them have been minor, registering under a 3.0 magnitude, but seismologists have recorded more than 30 quakes that surpassed that threshold.

The seismic activity has been particularly concentrated around Anchorage and the nearby Matanuska-Susitna Borough, according to West.

Tuesday’s tremor was the second-greatest in magnitude since the swarm of seismic activity began. The strongest of the tremors occurred May 28 and registered a 5.7 magnitude.

The cause of the seismic activity is unclear, but West said he believes it is likely the result of shifting tectonic plates.

“It’s the kind of activity that you would expect from the Pacific Plate sliding underneath the North American Plate,” West said.

The Alaska Earthquake Center has not issued any tsunami warnings, but the U.S. Geological Survey’s ShakeAlert system detected the quake and issued an alert notifying the public of the seismic activity.

West said he anticipates the seismic activity will continue, though it is difficult to predict when and where future quakes will occur.

“We expect that we’ll see aftershocks and other seismic activity in the coming weeks and months,” he said.