Alaska earthquake of 1964, earthquake that occurred in south-central Alaska on March 27, 1964, with a moment magnitude of 9.2. The most powerful earthquake ever in North America Raged for nearly five minutes. The earthquake and ensuing tsunami took the lives of 118 unfortunate souls; thousands were left in the snow without shelter, food, and water. The 1964 earthquake was a defining moment in a territory that had just achieved statehood. The epicenter was about 10 km east of the mouth of College Fiord, approximately 90 km west of Valdez and 120 km east of Anchorage. Fifty years later, it continues to shape Alaska, its people, and the science of earthquakes. At 5:36 p.m. on March 27, 1964, a magnitude-9.2 earthquake, the most powerful quake ever recorded in North America , struck 22.5 kilometers beneath Prince William Sound, where the Pacific Plate is subducting beneath the North American Plate along the 3,400-kilometer-long Aleutian Trench. On March 27, Good Friday of 1964 at 5:36 PM violent shaking erupted without warning across South Central Alaska. Alaska's Good Friday earthquake in shocking images, 1964 The rails in this approach to a railroad bridge near the head of Turnagain Arm, southeast of Anchorage, were torn from their ties and buckled laterally by movement of the riverbanks during a massive earthquake on March 27, 1964. This opinion piece by USGS geologist Peter Haeussler, et al. On March 27, 1964, a megathrust earthquake struck Alaska, about 15 miles below Prince William Sound, halfway between Anchorage and Valdez.
On March 27, 1964, at 5:36 p.m. (03:36 3/28 UTC), a great earthquake of magnitude 9.2 (moment magnitude) occurred in the Prince William Sound region of Alaska. The Alaska Good Friday Earthquake began at 5:36 p.m., March 27, 1964, with a force that measured at the time of 8.3 to 8.6 on the Richter Scale, later upgraded to 9.2. It lasted approximately four minutes and affected an approximately 100,000 square-mile area of South Central Alaska with the epicenter over six miles inland from College Fiord. It released at least twice as much energy as the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and was felt on land over an area of almost 502,000 square miles (1,300,000 square km). On Good Friday 1964, some Alaskans thought that day had come.