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Alaska quake brings minimal damage

BY TRAVIS DUNN | DENALI NATIONAL PARK, Alaska | November 4, 2002

"Many parts of Alaska are highly seismic."

—Waverly Person

One injury and minimal property damage were reported here following a 7.9-magnitude earthquake Nov. 3.

The quake, striking just after 1 p.m., had its epicenter in the Denali National Park, about 75 miles south of Fairbanks, according to Waverly Person, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Nov. 3 quake followed another that occurred Oct. 23 and registered 6.7 on the Richter scale.

According to the Alaska Department of Transportation, damage from the latest quake came in the form of shifting ground, rockslides and landslides. Several roads were damaged, as well as a small airport, and some power outages were reported.

A 76-year-old woman in Menasta was the only person hurt during the quake, according to Greg Wilkinson, spokesman for the Alaska State Police in Anchorage. The woman suffered a broken arm.

"She fell down the stairs while trying to evacuate her home," Wilkinson said.

A spokesperson for the Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. said the Transalaska oil pipeline was shut down Sunday following the quake as a routine precaution, although no leaks had been reported.

The pipeline was slated to begin pumping at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The Transalaska pipeline pumps about one million barrels of oil a day, according to Mir Yousufuddin, a petroleum supply analyst for the U.S. Dept. of Energy. Yousufuddin estimated the lost revenue from the pipeline shutdown at $75 million. He did not think that the shutdown would have much economic impact on the mainland United States.

Sunday's quake lasted less than a minute and took place along the Denali fault line. Aftershocks, on the magnitude of 3 to 4 on the Richter scale, were "still going like mad," Person said on Monday.

"Many parts of Alaska are highly seismic," said Person, who noted that the second largest earthquake in modern history occurred in southern Alaska in 1964. That quake registered a magnitude of 9.2.

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