McQuaid Jesuit High School records major Alaska earthquake more than 3,000 miles from home

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — On July 28th at 10:15 P.M. local time (July 29th 06:15 UTC) an 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the southeast coast of the Alaskan peninsula, approximately 100 kilometers southeast of Perryville, Alaska. 

Image courtesy: usgs.org

The earthquake was strong enough that it prompted tsunami warnings for parts of the Alaskan coast and Pacific Ocean that have since been dropped.

In terms of strength and magnitude, any earthquake that has a magnitude 7.0 or higher on the Richter Scale is considered to be major, and known to cause serious damage to homes and cities. A magnitude 8.0 or higher is known as a great earthquake, and not in a good way. These quakes can completely destroy communities if located right near the epicenter. Luckily, no serious damage has been reported from surrounding communities, but nearby residences and campgrounds were rattled for several miles around from this quake.

The Alaskan area and coast is known for having large earthquakes like this, but this one in particular was the strongest to occur in the area since 1964, and the strongest to occur in the United States in decades. Plus, that’s not the only neat thing about this quake…

McQuaid Jesuit High School, located locally in Brighton has a seismograph station capable of recording earthquakes from all around the world, and the Alaskan earthquake that occurred last night is just one of the quakes recorded on this station.

Image courtesy: seismo.mcquaid.org

The digital seismometer station was built by students in the late 1950s and is located in the basement of the school. You can get real-time data from the station on their website, and is recorded in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).    

McQuaid’s station uses high and low gain sensors to provide data for both small and large quakes with data conversion capabilities at the site itself. This information is then sent digitally to the central site where it is immediately able to be used by computers to process and store the data.

What’s really neat about the recent Alaska quake is how easily you can see it on the seismograph when looking at the waves using the low gain sensor. It sticks out like a sore thumb! Check it out in the image below:

Image courtesy: seismo.mcquaid.org

Want to learn more about how to read a seismograph? Click HERE!

According to the USGS, the quake “occurred as the result of thrust faulting on or near the subduction zone interface between the Pacific and North America plates. The preliminary focal mechanism solution indicates rupture occurred on a fault dipping either shallowly to the northwest, or steeply to the southeast.”

Despite the earthquake being on the strong end of the spectrum Western New York is way too far away to feel it physically, but the seismograph is in fact capable of picking up the quake’s shake from over 3,000 miles away.

Did you know that Rochester can get earthquakes too?

~Meteorologist Christine Gregory

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