Professional Paper 544–C
The Alaska earthquake of March 27, 1964, had widespread hydrologic effects throughout practically all of the United States. More than 1,450 water-level recorders, scattered throughout all the 50 States except Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island, registered the earthquake. Half of the water-level records were obtained from ground-water observation wells and half at surface-water gaging stations. The earthquake is also known to have registered on water-level recorders on wells in Canada, England, Denmark, Belgium, Egypt, Israel, Libya, Philippine Islands, South-West Africa, South Africa, and Northern Territory of Australia.
The Alaska earthquake is the first for which widespread surface-water effects are known. The effects were recorded at stations on flowing streams, rivers, reservoirs, lakes, and ponds. The 755 surface-water stations recording effects are spread through 38 States, but are most numerous in the south-central and southeastern States, especially in Florida and Louisiana. Most of the fluctuations recorded can be referred to more precisely as seismic seiches; however, a few stations recorded the quake as a minor change in stage. The largest recorded seiche outside Alaska was 1.83 feet on a reservoir in Michigan. The next largest was 1.45 feet on Lake Ouachita in Arkansas.
The largest fluctuation in a well was 23 feet registered by a pressure recorder near Belle Fourche, S. Dak. Fluctuations of more than 10 feet were reported from wells in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. A 3.40-foot fluctuation was recorded in a well in Puerto Rico.
The Alaska earthquake was registered by about seven times as many water-level recorders as recorded the Hebgen Lake, Mont., earthquake of August 19, 1959.
First posted October 31, 2012
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Vorhis , R.C., 1966, Hydrologic effects of the earthquake of March 27,1964, outside Alaska with sections on Hydroseismograms from the Nunn-Bush Shoe Co. well Wisconsin, by Rexin, E.E., and Vorhis, R.C., and Alaska earthquake effects on ground water In Iowa, by Coble, R.W.: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 544–C, 54 p., https://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/0544c/.
Hydroseismograpms from the Nunn-Bush Shoe Co. Well, Wisconsin
Geographic Distribution of Hydrologic Effects
Hydroseisms from Aftershocks