The big quake: New book explains how 1964 reshaped Alaska and the scientific world

Monday, 04 September 2017, 07:01:46 AM. The author of “The Great Quake” weaves together personal narratives and scientific discoveries that came out of the most powerful earthquake recorded in North America.
1 of 5 Full Screen Autoplay Close Skip Ad × Caption Buy This Photo Valdez was devastated by the Great Alaska Earthquake in 1964. (Joe Rychetnik / Anchorage Times / ADN archive) Wait 1 second to continue. Half a century ago, North America's most powerful recorded earthquake ripped through Alaska. The 9.2-magnitude quake transformed Alaska's landscape. It also transformed modern understanding of the geology and the way the planet works. Now a new book, "The Great Quake," blends personal stories of Alaskans who survived the 1964 disaster with an explanation of the scientific discoveries that resulted from it. The book, by longtime New York Times science writer Henry Fountain, describes the experiences of those who witnessed the quake and its significance to science. The Alaska earthquake settled what, until then, was a fierce scientific debate. It confirmed the theory of plate tectonics and showed what happens when one geologic plate slips under another in what is commonly referred to as a "subduction" event, the most powerful of all types of quakes. In a telephone interview, Fountain explained how significant the earthquake was to people's lives and to science. What inspired the book? Fountain said he has been interested in the Alaska earthquake since he was in college, when he heard a recording of an Anchorage radio station's broadcast during the disaster. "I just remember thinking, wow, this is quite an earthquake, the noise and the sort of panic in the person's voice,"...Read more
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