Inside the College of the Environment and Life Sciences

CELS Geologist Helps Conduct Alaskan Earthquake Research

AlaskaArticle2Media contact: Yvette Gillies    Phone: 907-786-7039

The coastal geology of Simeonof Island, the southeastern-most island in the Shumagin archipelago of the Aleutian Islands, suggests the region has not experienced a great megathrust earthquake in at least the past 3,400 years. Although this research focuses on better understanding a very remote part of the world, it has important implications for far reaching areas of heavily populated parts of the globe. This newly-published finding will improve seismic and tsunami hazard assessments in the United States and at coastlines around the Pacific Ocean and will help inform disaster management officials to potentially save lives and economies.

The Shumagin seismic gap is an area of great interest for earthquake studies. Unlike most of the Aleutian megathrust fault that failed in great (magnitude 8 or greater) earthquakes in the 20th century, the Shumagin Islands region has not experienced a M>8 earthquake in the past century. This has led to speculation that the Shumagin Islands represent a “gap” that will be filled by a large rupture at some time, yet no evidence suggests that this has happened previously.

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