Earthquake

This screenshot from the Alaska Earthquake Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks shows the location of this morning's earthquake. 

Updated at 4:15 p.m.

A Thursday morning earthquake near Cantwell that measured a magnitude 5.5 was felt as far south as Anchorage and as far north as Fairbanks. It was the biggest earthquake recorded in that area in nearly 20 years.

The quake occurred at 9:10 a.m. about 17 miles southeast of Cantwell in the Alaska Range, and it was a deep one, about 78 kilometers, or a little more than 48 miles. That depth is what prevented significant damage from occurring, according to a seismologist with the Alaska Earthquake Center. There have been no reports of damage.

“The nice thing when it’s a little deeper is they disperse the energy coming from it,” seismologist Jana Pursley said. “Those bigger ones, right below the surface, less than 10 kilometers, cause damage.”

Three earlier quakes were bigger: On Nov. 29, 2000, a 5.8 quake was recorded 100 kilometers northwest of Thursday’s quake. On Oct. 23, 2002, a 6.6 magnitude quake was recorded about 30 miles northeast of Thursday’s quake. And on Nov. 3, 2002, a 7.9 magnitude quake was recorded in the same location as the Oct. 23 quake.

All three of those earthquakes were shallow, just 10- to 15-kilometers underground, according to Pursley. The Nov. 3, 2002, quake was the largest recorded in the United States in 37 years and the strongest ever recorded in Interior Alaska.

Thursday's earthquake was at an intermediate depth. Some small aftershocks were also recorded.

The quake prompted plenty of reaction on Facebook, from residents throughout the Interior and as far south as Anchorage. The jolt and subsequent shaking were noticeable to many local residents. At least one family in the McKinley Village area sought refuge under a table and this reporter had enough time to find a doorway to stand in as the shaking continued.

Some elementary students used the shaking as a good excuse to practice an earthquake drill and crawled under tables at Tri-Valley School.

For details on the earthquake, go to the Alaska Earthquake Center at on.doi.gov/2Q9Zxzb

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer.com or follow her at twitter.com/FDNMkris.