Kodiak Collage

If you tell someone on Kodiak Island that you are studying earthquakes, you’re going to hear an earthquake story. Every one of the locals I met over the last few days had one. The most recent large event happened after midnight in January of this year, a M7.9 earthquake just offshore the island. Residents were roused from sleep and made their way through the tsunami evacuation process, meeting up at the high school on high ground above town.

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Beach near Chiniak Point, Kodiak Island

One of our contacts with the Native Corporations has lived on Kodiak his whole life and told me the story of clamming on the beach with his father, brother and 7 months-pregnant mother in 1964 during the M9.2 Good Friday earthquake–the second biggest earthquake on record. Shaking lasted for minutes–they dropped everything and ran to the car, watching the water recede. They drove as far as possible along gravel roads littered with boulders and debris while the tsunami broke below them. Bridges were washed out and they took refuge with others in a local restaurant for 4 days before being airlifted out.

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Tsunami damage on Kodiak Island following the 1964 M9.2 Great Alaska earthquake. Photo released by the U.S. Geological Survey via cbsnews.com.

I met up with Service Team #2 for a couple of days in Kodiak while doing some site scouting for our AACSE work on the island next summer. Hearing these earthquake stories reminds me of the immediacy and direct societal benefit and relevance of subduction zone science and the data collected by the Alaska array. I was at sea this summer deploying the ocean bottom stations while Geoff and Donna installed the Kodiak stations and I didn’t know what I was missing! Susan graciously gave up her spot in the float plane today so I could play tourist while helping with the service run. She wasn’t kidding about the scenery!

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Flying over the spine of Kodiak Island.

Over the last two days, we swapped discs and finished servicing four more stations, including replacing bear-damaged GPS antennae on two stations. We ran into some famous Kodiak brown bears:

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A mother and cub just off of the Chiniak Highway, near Russian River.

And also enjoyed other wildlife visits:

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A very large spider near Santa Flavia, Kodiak Island.
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An Alaska-sized dragonfly whispering in Dan’s ear.

Even into September, the long hours of daylight left plenty of time for a “friendly” game of cornhole:

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Susan Schwartz (UCSC) and Dan Sampson (UCSC) battling.

And dinner al fresco with the crew:

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Dan Sampson (UCSC), Susan Schwartz (UCSC), Lindsay Worthington (UNM)
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When the pilot gives you local smoked salmon…

The team here has two more days of servicing and then we leave these stations to record (hopefully safe from bears!) for the long, dark winter ahead.

–Lindsay Worthington, University of New Mexico

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