Alaska's North Slope was hit Sunday by the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the region, the state's seismologist says. At 6:58am Sunday, the magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck an area 42 miles east of Kavik River Camp and 343 miles northeast of Fairbanks, the state's second-biggest city, the AP reports. The US Geological Survey says the earthquake had a depth of about 6 miles. State seismologist Mike West tells the Anchorage Daily News that the earthquake was the biggest recorded in the North Slope by a substantial amount. "This is a very significant event that will take us some time to understand," he says.
The previous most powerful quake in the North Slope was in 1995 at magnitude 5.2, West says. The jump from a 5.2 to Sunday's 6.4 is significant because earthquakes rapidly grow in strength as magnitude rises, he says. A magnitude 6.4 earthquake is 15.8 times bigger and 63.1 times stronger than a 5.2 earthquake, according to the US Geological Survey. "That's why at 6.4 this changes how we think about the region," West says "It's a little early to say how, but it's safe to say this earthquake will cause a re-evaluation of the seismic potential of that area." Later Sunday, another magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit at 1:15pm near the city of Kaktovik on Alaska's North Slope, the US Geological Survey says.
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