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Fifty years ago I was six years old sitting on the couch at home watching TV in my home town of Anchorage, Alaska. We lived in a new subdivision called Turnagain-By-The-Sea. It was Good Friday and I was watching an afternoon children's show, Fireball XL-5. The old black and white TV shut off, the picture shrinking down to that little white dot.

Our dog was running like crazy through the house and and the house began to slowly move like a ship at sea. Earthquake! My parents gathered my siblings and I in the living room which by then was moving up and down so much we could not walk, and so we just huddled together in the middle of the room and held on to each other. The house was riding ground swells up and down and it seemed to go on forever. Everything loose in the house was falling over and everything in cabinets was crashing to the floor.

I have been in very many earthquakes now in my life but this was totally different. Most quakes are a quick jolt or a shake. This was a very slow movement up and then down, exactly like being in sea swells. The ground raised us up, and then dropped away below us. It was very frightening to have solid earth turn into nothing of the sort. Instead of seconds the quake lasted for several very long minutes.

Finally the movement subsided and we were all fine. A forest that used to be between the Turnagain subdivision and the inlet was gone, replaced by a sunken crazy quilt of broken land and trees. Houses once visible out our back window had gone over the edge.

My father was in the National Guard and was called out to help while the rest of us were evacuated to high ground for fear of tsunamis. That thankfully never appeared in Anchorage but which devastated other communities in Alaska.

http://time.com/3746785/the-great-alaska-earthquake-of-1964-rare-photos-from-an-epic-disaster/

The photo below is what the land behind our subdivision looked like. A huge chunk of land broke up and slid out into the inlet. It later became Earthquake Park. Fifty years of erosion have reduced it to rolling terrain with trees once again growing vertically.

I was young but the memories of the most powerful quake ever recorded in North America will always be with me. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1964_Alaska_earthquake

post-1-0-35643500-1395548528_thumb.jpg

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The Good Friday Earthquake was my first geology lesson. It taught me that in geology some things do not happen slowly but all at once. Streams can flow gently for decades or hundreds of years, and then change dramatically in days of massive flooding. The earthquake caused massive changes to terrain overnight. One end of Montegue Island was raised over 30 feet. Latouche Island moved almost 60 feet to the southeast. The end result was that the Pacific plate moved under the North American Plate about 30 feet on average. http://www.geo.arizona.edu/~nhartnes/alaska/uplift.html

Mountains often do not grow slowly but in fits and starts.

post-1-0-58109200-1395552050_thumb.jpg

Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Hanning Bay fault scarp on Montague Island, looking northwest. Vertical displacement in the foreground, in rock, is about 12 feet. The maximum measured displacement of 14 feet is at the beach ridge near the trees in the background. Figure 8, U.S. Geological Survey Professional paper 541.

http://libraryphoto.cr.usgs.gov/cgi-bin/search.cgi?search_mode=exact;selection=Alaska%20Earthquake%201964%7CAlaska%20Earthquake%7C1964;start=0

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64 was a bit before my time, but mom was 19 and worked for FNBA on 4th AVE. in a office on the second floor. Shure did change a lot of real estate in a hurry!

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That had to be a terrifying ordeal for the children, I remember when earthquake happened I was 6 we never new just how bad this was untill way later.

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Pretty wild ride when all that silt turned into a bowl of jello.  I have seen the grass in a field rolling or rippling but nothing that could touch that one.  Must have been a wild ride for sure.

 

Kenny

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Our family was camped at a lake outside of Phoenix, AZ. that day.  Suddenly, my dad and his friends noticed the water at the shore was slowly receding.  It was a small shallow bay and at first we thought it was boat wakes causing it.  But there were no boats going by at the time and the water kept dropping and dropping everywhere they looked, not just on our little shoreline.  Then it starting coming back up to it's original level.  Then it dropped again, then back again.  It did this several times before stopping and settling into it's original level.  They were mystified as to what could have caused the entire lake level to drop so suddenly and then return.

It wasn't until we got home a few days later we learned of the quake so far away in Alaska and finally decided that was the cause.  Incredible that the effect could be, not felt, but noticed so far away and in such an unusual manner.

 

Digger Bob

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Steve,

I can't imagine a 8.6 earthquake. That has to be an indelible memory.

I was living in the 2nd floor barracks in Pt Hueneme, CA while attending a Navy A-School when the 6.6 San Fernando earthquake happened of Feb. 9, 1971. I was laying in bed reading and the bed started walking across the floor. Pt Hueneme was about 50 miles from the epicenter. It really scared the hell out of me.

Also I believe the Richter scale is logaritmic so a 8.6 earthquake is 100 times more powerful than a 6.6 earthquake.

Alan

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It's amazing how fast the quake moves.  My last quake was up in Seattle about ten years ago.  I was on the phone with a friend that was about forty miles away.  He was saying, "Oh crap, an earthquake".  The quake hit me before he could finish the sentence.

 

I remember the Anchorage quake, and those pictures of the cars in the sink holes down town.  Scary stuff for sure. 

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