Contact  |   Site Map  |   Search   
 Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology  

  SeismoArchives  |   Earthquake Archives  |   Project Archives  |   Background Information  |         IRIS Home  


1987/1988 Gulf of Alaska Earthquakes Archive:
In Memory of Dr. John C. Lahr (1944-2009)

1987 11/30 19:23 UTC  58.83N  142.60W  15 km deep, Mw=7.9, 
1988 03/06 22:35 UTC  57.26N  142.75W    6 km deep, Mw=7.8, 
Gulf of Alaska, Northeast Pacific Ocean

The 1987-88 Mw 7 Gulf of Alaska earthquakes, among the largest oceanic intraplate earthquakes ever recorded, involved strike-slip faulting along a pre-existing zone of weakness inherited from plate formation processes. In a seminal paper, John Lahr argued that the earthquake sequence reflects fragmentation of the corner of the Pacific plate in its collision with the North American plate.

Digital files of materials relating to the Gulf of Alaska earthquakes and financial donations to an endowment fund supporting scanning of historical seismograms are welcome. Please contact W.H.K. Lee at (office) or (home).

Archivists: Mike Diggles (, Bob Page (, and Kay Wyatt (
Endowment Donors: William H. K. Lee (Founder)
Contributor of Files: Mike Diggles, Nils Lahr, Willie Lee, Bob Page, Randall Peters, and Randy Updike

1. Seismograms of the 1987 and 1988 Gulf of Alaska Earthquakes:
(in preparation and not yet available).
     Link to compressed tif file directory (.gz format) (in preparation and not yet available).

2. Selected Information about the 1987 and 1988 Gulf of Alaska Earthquakes now Online:

Lahr, J.C., R.A. Page, C.D. Stephens, and D.H. Christensen (1988). Unusual earthquakes in the Gulf of Alaska and fragmentation of the Pacific plate, Geophys. Res. Lett., 15, 1483-1486.

3. References:

Hwang, L.J. and H. Kanamori (1992). Rupture processes of the 1987-1988 Gulf of Alaska earthquake sequence, J. Geophys. Res., 97, 19,881-19,908.

Quintanar, L., R. Madariaga, and A. Deschamps (1995). The earthquake sequence of November 1987 and March 1988 in the Gulf of Alaska: a new insight, Geophys. Res. Lett. , 22, 1029-1032.

Pegler, G. and S. Das (1996). The 1987-1992 Gulf of Alaska earthquakes, Tectonophys. , 257, 111-136, doi:10.1016/0040-1951(95)00112-3

Sauber, J.M., T.A. Clark, L.J. Bell, M. Lisowski, C. Ma, and D.S. Caprette (1993). Geodetic measurement of static displacement associated with the 1987-1988 Gulf of Alaska earthquakes, in D.E. Smith and D.L. Turcotte, eds., Contributions of Space Geodesy to Geodynamics: Crustal Dynamics, AGU Geodynamics Series, 23, 233-248.

Gonzalez, F.I., C.L. Mader, M.C. Eble, and E.N. Bernard (1991). The 1987-88 Alaskan Bight tsunamis: deep ocean data and model comparisons, Natural Hazards, 4, 119-139.

Ritsema, J., S.N. Ward, and F.I. Gonzalez (1995). Inversion of deep-ocean tsunami records for 1987 and 1988 Gulf of Alaska earthquake parameters, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. , 85, 747-754.

4. Brief note about John Lahr:
John Lahr was educated at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (B.S., Physics, 1966) and Columbia University (Ph.D., Seismology, 1975). He served as a Geophysicist and Research Geophysicist, U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif. (1971-1993), College, Alaska (1993-1997), and Golden, Colo. (1997-2003). Much of his career centered on investigating the seismicity and tectonics of southern Alaska and developing and improving computer techniques for locating earthquakes recorded by a sparse regional network of seismographs. John shared his deep enthusiasm for science and earthquakes with school children, teachers and the general public.

For photographs of John Lahr engaged in field work in Alaska and earthquake education, please click:

  • Surveying across the Fairweather fault in southeast Alaska in 1968 to determine whether the fault is locked or creeping 10 years after the 1958 Mw 7.7 Lituya Bay earthquake. View from North Dome looking northwest along the glacier-filled fault valley. The head of Lituya Bay is barely visible above the Crillon Glacier in the middleground.
  • Backpacking survey tripods down a stream gully, Fairweather fault, southeast Alaska (1968 ).
  • Helping a child discover how to construct a wall to withstand shaking of its base. A “wall” is made from plexiglass strips joined together by magnets and then tested on a homemade shake table. Earthquake education workshop, San Francisco Exploratorium, April 2006, during centennial anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Please click: John C. Lahr Biographical Sketch for a one-page summary adapted from the autobiographical sketch in the International Handbook of Earthquake and Engineering Seismology, edited by W.H.K. Lee, H. Kanamori, P.C. Jennings, and C. Kisslinger, Part B, p. 1883 and CD#3, Appendix 3 , Academic Press, San Diego, 2003.

Please click: John Lahr’s Publications for a full list of his publications.

Please click: John Lahr’s Science Outreach for his science and earthquake outreach/education activities.

Please click: Tributes to John Lahr including information about The John C. Lahr Educational Seismology Fund.


(Last Updated: March 30, 2009) (mfd)

Copyright © 2009 IRIS :: Contact