1964 Great Alaska
In Honor of Dr. George Plafker
1964 3/28 03:36 UTC 61.01N 147.62W 6km deep
Mw=9.2, Prince William Sound, Alaska
The death toll of this earthquake was about 125. It is the second
largest earthquake of the world in the 20th century. The Great Alaska earthquake
of 1964 has been extensively studied by many scientists and engineers, and in
particular, by George Plafker who deduced that the source of this earthquake
was a low-angle thrust from meticulous postquake field observations. This
earthquake archive is
created to honor Dr. George Plafker for his many pioneering contributions in
We welcome contributions of digital files of materials relating to the 1964
Great Alaska earthquake and
donations to the endowment fund so that more seismograms can be scanned and
online. In addition, an archivist is needed to edit and maintain this
Archive. If you are interested,
please contact W.H.K. Lee at <email@example.com>
(office) or <firstname.lastname@example.org> (home).
Archivist: A volunteer is needed.
Endowment Donors: Doris Coonrad (Founder)
for providing fund to scan seismograms.
Contributors of Files: Charles R. Hutt, and William H. K. Lee.
Seismograms of the 1964
Great Alaska Earthquake:
Please click the above link to view the selected seismograms of the 1964 Great
Alaska earthquake recorded by the WWSSN stations.
link to compressed
tif file directory (.gz format)
2. Selected Information about the 1964 Great
Earthquake now Online:
Tectonic deformation associated with the 1964 Alaska earthquake. from Science, vol.
148, p. 1675-1687.
Report: Prince William Sound, Alaska 1964 March 28 03:36:14 UTC
isoseismal map, damage photos, seismograms, and instensity map
Kanamori, H. (1970). The Alaska earthquake of 1964: Radiation of
long-period surface waves and source mechanism. J. Geophys. Res.,
vol. 75, 5029-5040.
National Academy of Sciences (1972). The Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964.
8 volumes. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
Page, R. (1968). Aftershocks and microaftershocks of the great Alaska earthquake
of 1964. Bull. Seism. Soc. Am., vol. 58, p. 1131-1168.
Plafker, G. (1965):
Tectonic deformation associated with the 1964 Alaska earthquake. Science, vol.
148, p. 1675-1687.
Savage, J. C., and L. M. Hastie (1966). Surface deformation associated
with dip-slip faulting. J. Geophys. Res., vol. 71, p. 4897-4904.
Geological Survey (1966). The Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. A series
Survey Professional Papers, No. 541,
542, 543, and 544.
U.S. Department of Commerce
(1966). The Prince William Sound Earthquake of 1964 and Aftershocks. 3
volumes. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
4. A Brief Note about George Plafker
George Plafker is a field geologist noted
for his field studies of subduction-zone and backarc thrust earthquakes.
Through very complete mapping of vertical deformation and faulting and the application
of tectonics, he was first to propose in 1965 that the source of the 1964 Great
earthquake was a low-angle thrust fault.
This conclusion differed from interpretations of the
fault plane by several seismologists as (1) a nearly vertical fault
extending to a depth of 100-200 km, (2) a steeply dipping normal fault,
or (3) a predominantly strike-slip fault. George's conclusion was corroborated
through dislocation modeling published by Savage and Hastie in 1966,
and later through a careful study of radiation of the long-period
surface waves published by Hiroo Kanamori in 1970. Subsequently,
George and his followers applied this approach to many subduction
earthquakes around the world and contributed greatly to our understanding
of these earthquakes.
Plafker was educated at the Brooklyn College (B.S., Geology, 1949),
University of California, Berkeley
(M.S., Geology, 1956), and Stanford University (Ph.D., Geology and
He served as an
Engineering Geologist, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (1949-1950);
Research Geologist, U.S.
Geological Survey (1951-1956, 1962-1995); Petroleum Geologist,
Chevron (1956-1961); and Consulting
Engineering Geologist, (1995-present).
Plafker_Photo for a recent photo of George.
for: George Plafker for a 1-page bio-summary written
by George himself for the International Handbook of Earthquake and
edited by W.H.K. Lee, H. Kanamori, P.C. Jennings, and C. Kisslinger,
Part B, p. 1886,
Academic Press, San Diego, 2003.
Updated: November 6, 2004)