Large earthquake lets scientists learn more about Aleutians fault line
Seismologists are learning valuable information about a fault line in the western Aleutians and Bering Sea, following a large earthquake that shook the area Monday afternoon.
There was no damage given the remote area, but the quake was felt nearly 200 miles away and a small tsunami was generated.
The quake’s magnitude was measured as a 7.7, the largest ever recorded in this area with modern equipment. It was 6 miles deep.
The epicenter was in Russian waters, 175 miles west of Attu, but the long fault line crosses into the U.S., allowing the shaking to be felt nearly 200 miles east in Shemya.
“The rupture started in one point but because the fault is so long it took a couple of minutes for the rupture to complete,” said Natalia Ruppert, a seismologist with the Alaska Earthquake Center.
There was also a 6.2 foreshock and at least a dozen aftershocks.
Ruppert said this corner of the northern Pacific is a complicated puzzle of three tectonic plates coming together, a puzzle scientists don’t completely understand. To make sense of a fault line, they need to either look at it or see how a major quake moves through the fault — an opportunity Monday offered.
“This will definitely illuminate this fault much better than hundreds and thousands of small earthquakes,” Ruppert said.
Staff at the center will be watching this area closely over the coming weeks, studying it for months if not years to come.
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