1964 Great Alaska Earthquake

  • For background on this animation series, download Background from the Resources box.

  • Animations are available for preview in embedded YouTube.

  • To download, right click the 'Quicktime Animation' link and choose 'Save Target As' (PC) or 'Download Linked File' (Mac; Safari).

  • Send us feedback.

1964 Great Alaska Earthquakes

The 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake occurred on Good Friday, March 27th. It and rocked the state with strong ground shaking for 4.5 minutes. Liquefaction in and around Anchorage tore the land apart. At magnitude 9.2, it was the second largest quake ever recorded by seismometers. Only 9 people died from the earthquake, but 130 died from the subsequent tsunami; 10 as far away as Crescent City, CA. This animation shows the underlying causes of that subduction-zone mega-thrust earthquake, and tells how research done on the ground deformation shortly after the earthquake by George Pflaker,US Geological Survey, and colleagues contributed to confirmation of early theories of plate tectonics.

 mp4 (21.5 MB)


Animation & graphics by Jenda Johnson, geologist
Directed by Robert F. Butler, University of Portland
U.S. Geological Survey consultants:
     Robert C. Witter, Alaska Science Center
     Peter J. Haeussler, Alaska Science Center
Narrated by Roger Groom, Mount Tabor Middle School
Maps from Google Earth. Video from US Army Corps of Engineers. Tsunami animation from National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Photographs from US Geological Survey.

Please send feedback to Jenda Johnson.