twisted railroad tracks sprawling into the sea

1964 Good Friday Great Alaskan Earthquake

On Good Friday, March 27, 1964 the residents of the state of Alaska were severely jolted by an earthquake with an epicenter approximately 90 kilometers (55miles) west of the town of Valdez and 120 kilometers (75miles) east of Anchorage (exact epicentral location: Latitude 61.04N, Longitude 147.73 W ).

Earthquake Damage



Damage (1964$)

Alaska 106 $84 million
British Columbia 0 $10 million
Washington 0 minor coastal damage
Oregon 4 $0.7 million
California 13 $10 million


Southern Alaska was hit with rock slides, landslides, snow avalanches and tsunami waves.

Multistory buildings were hit hardest because long-period seismic waves, such as the ones that hit Anchorage, affect tall buildings more than short period ones.(1)

The schools in Anchorage were almost all wiped out.(6)

The death toll was very small for an earthquake of this magnitude for several reasons:

Learn more about the 1964 Good Friday Great Alaskan Earthquake

The Earthquake That Started It All Great Chunks Of Earth Were Pushed Into The Sky
Giant Waves Caused Fifteen Deaths A Huge Piece of Land Walked Into The Sea
It All Happened Here Before (And Probably Will Again) What The Words All Mean (Vocabulary Definitions)

Other sites of interest:

Windows to Arizona Geology

United States Geological Survey Report on the Alaskan quake.


With many thanks to the following sources:

Macklin, T. for photos by his brother.

1) Bolt, B., 1993, Earthquakes. W.H.Freeman and Company.

2) Christensen, D.
3) Lutgens, F. and Tarbeck, E., 1995, Essentials in Geology. Prentice Hall.

4) Pipkin, B. and Trent, D., 1997, Geology and the Environment. West/Wadsworth.

5) Sokolowski, T.

6) United States Geological Survey.

Page by Nievita Bueno Hartness
Last Updated 12/06/2001

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