Yesterday I attended an education workshop in Anchorage. After the workshop wrapped up I relaxed in my room and tuned in to some absurd movie about volcanic activity brought on by the greedy shenanigans of unscrupulous oilmen. At 4:38 pm my time, just as magma welled up inside some poor man’s home on my television, reality re-asserted itself into my world and my room began to shake like jello. The last time I felt such a quivering I was back in our old 1920’s house in Texas and our floors were dancing to the rhythm of our out of balance Maytag. It was just a short little shake, maybe 5 seconds, tops. “Hmmm, that was interesting; could I be experiencing my first quake?”
I got up, glad for the interruption from the mind-numbing entertainment experience that was about to suck the last vestiges of intelligence from my brain, and looked out my window that overlooked the parking lot. There were no hysterical patrons. All the cars rested beneath undisturbed snow. “That’s good news; but maybe I’d best check with the authorities.” I went straight to the best authority around when it comes to earthquakes in our state, the Alaska Earthquake Information Center. It maps quakes in real time, and sure enough, there it was. “My first quake, indeed! Let’s see, magnitude 3.56, location: 16 miles north of me and 26 miles down. that’s pretty close!” Later I asked some of my friends if they had felt the shockwave. Results: five to one didn’t even notice.
Coastal Alaska floats alongside the Pacific Rim, a line of instability between our continental plate and the Pacific oceanic plate. Lots of action goes on as the two vie for dominance, so earthquakes are really quite common here. There were 47 quakes or aftershocks in Alaska on Saturday. Don’t worry about it Mom! We’re just fine.