Category Archives: Blog 3

Blog #3: Natural Hazards

There is a lot of hazards places to live in Alaska but there is safe place to live Alaska free Hazards.

Th safest place to live in Alaska is in the North Slope of Alaska, from Wainwright to Barrow, along the northern coast line of Alaska that facing the Arctic Ocean. This area is safe from natural hazard: no volcanoes, no earthquakes, no tsunamis, and no avalanches. Barrow is where is I live as math teacher at the local high school. The only thing you need to put up with is the negative 40 degree Fahrenheit that is the coldest it has been so far this year. There is no mountains, no volcanoes, and no trees.

In trying to determine which is the most hazardous area in Alaska, I must consider in my decision based on the effect it has caused or could cause again to that population of that area. If only a few people live in that area versus several hundred versus thousands of people, then a new perspective must be taken into consideration on human cost in that natural hazardous area being studied for consideration to be the worst area to be at or near it based on high population areas.

I have concluded that the area from the city of Anchorage to the city of Kenai along the the Cook Inlet area to the city of Seward is very hazardous area.

Mt. Redoubt is volcano that erupted in 1989: the eruption in 1989 spewed volcanic ashes to a height of 45,000 ft (14,000 m) and in doing so affected hazardously the commercial flight of a major airlines, that is, KLM, Boeing 747, in its plume. The aircraft   descended 13,000 feet where the pilots restarted the engines and landed the plane safely at Anchorage. But more than that the ashes spread out in the area causing the air to be contaminated.

In 1964, the Great Alaskan earthquake, at 5:36pm, on Good Friday, on March 27, a 9.2 magnitude earthquake hit near Anchorage. Most of the damage caused by the earthquake occurred in Anchorage, 75 mi from the actual epicenter of the earthquake. It was most powerful earthquake recorded in North America and second largest recorded in the world history. Six hundred miles of the fault ruptured at once and moved up to 60 ft, and releasing about 500 years of stress buildup. Destroyed were buildings, infrastructure (paved streets, sidewalks, water and sewer mains, electrical systems, and other man-made equipment), It caused serious and extensive damage to that city, and schools were uprooted. Later, tsunamis hit the area causing indirectly landslides.This earthquake area is associated with the Pacific Rim of Fire. Other damaged areas include Seward, where railroad tracks were distorted.Tsunamis followed that earthquake that affected the coastal areas of the south central coastal areas of Alaska and affected the surrounding area and all the way to create associated tsunamis to California and Hawaii.   As a result of this earthquake, 131 people are believed to have died related to this earthquake. In 2018, on November 30, near   Anchorage, 7.1 earthquake, and after shocks occurred.

I will not move to Anchorage.



Fox Islands

The most hazardous place in Alaska would have to be the Fox Islands.

Located in the volcanic Aleutian Island chain, the Fox Islands are a seismically active area. Earthquakes are frequent in the area. The place where these islands are located is a subduction zone, and the Pacific Plate is being forced underneath the North American plate, resulting in earthquakes as the plates move against each other. The region is capable of producing strong temblors, already experiencing a 6.3 in 1952, a 7.3 in 2011 and a 6.9 in 2015

Volcanic activity is also prominent (obviously–these are volcanic islands!) in the area, with at least three active volcanoes located in the Fox Islands: Okmok, Akutan and Makushin.

Volcanic and seismic activity can cause another hazard to which the Fox Islands are very vulnerable: tsunamis. The Islands are already vulnerable to flooding, as shown on the Alaska Department of Natural Resources website. As in many coastal villages, erosion from rising sea levels is already a concern. There is also concern for future damage to natural shorelines in the event of an earthquake or from heavy storms.

All of these earthquakes, volcanoes, and possible damage from waves both large and small make the Aleutian Islands’ Fox Islands the most hazardous area in Alaska.

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When asked what the most dangerous place in Alaska is, I would have to argue that the low-lying areas in the Cook Inlet, Turnagain/Knik Arms are the most dangerous. This is due to the area’s low elevation, proximity to volcanoes, seismically active zones, and poor geologic properties of the Anchorage “bowl.’ The makes the area in question highly vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis. The low quality of the soils in this area means that building’s foundations may more readily fall to the effects of an earthquake. This can be further exacerbated should liquefaction come into play. Furthermore, the funnel shape of the inlet could direct a tsunami right at Anchorage and the surrounding communities. While most places in Alaska can experience some form of natural disaster, Anchorage is in the perfect location to be hit with several at once. If such an event would happen the whole state would see shortages in vital supplies; such shortages would likely last for sometime and cause serious problems in areas never directly effected by the natural disaster. Such wide spreading effects is what makes this location so unique. For example, Kodiak Island could be hit with a tsunami and the other side of the island would be rather sheltered, perhaps saving lives and infrastructure. The Cook Inlet area has no such saving grace.

Petersen Blog 3

I have lived in Alaska for about seven years. During that time I have experienced more natural hazards here than I ever experienced in any of the other states that I have lived in. As I considered which place in Alaska is the most hazardous I looked back at history and considered which parts of Alaska have experienced the worst natural disasters in the past.

After considering all of the evidence I was forced to conclude that the most dangerous part of Alaska is the area of Southcentral Alaska from Anchorage to Valdez, including the northern part of the Kenai Peninsula and the coastline from the Kenai Peninsula to Anchorage and the coastline from the Kenai Peninsula to Valdez.

As the Alaska department of Geological and Geophysical Surveys noted on their website, “geologic processes only become hazards when humans get in their way; if there were no people affected, we would find these natural phenomena interesting, but not concerning.” Thus, what makes a geologic process dangerous is the presence or absence of humans. One of the reasons that I chose Southcentral Alaska from Anchorage to Valdez as the most dangerous place in Alaska is because that is where the most people live in Alaska.

One of the natural hazards that affects this area of Alaska is earthquakes. Southern Alaska is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because it is just north of the Alaska-Aleutian Megathrust, which is a major fault to the south of Alaska.

The worst natural disaster in Alaska’s history was the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964. The epicenter of this magnitude 9.2 earthquake was about halfway between Anchorage and Valdez. The earthquake caused severe damage and casualties in both communities. Over 30 people died in Valdez as a result of the earthquake and the tsunami that it caused. Following the earthquake, the people of Valdez decided to move their town to a new location a few miles away.

Anchorage had another large earthquake in November 2018. I lived through that earthquake and it was really scary. The epicenter of this earthquake was ten miles north of Anchorage. A tsunami warning was issued after the earthquake but no tsunami ever materialized. The reason that large earthquakes are so significant is the potential loss of human life and damage to communities and property.

Another natural hazard that affects this area of Alaska is avalanches. In 2014, a huge avalanche in Keystone Canyon closed the only road into Valdez for awhile. Valdez is one of the snowiest cities in the United States and is prone to avalanches in the surrounding area. Avalanches happen from time to time along the Seward Highway south of Anchorage as well. Avalanches are significant because they could result in the loss of human life if people get buried by the avalanche. Also, avalanches can close roads and temporarily disrupt transportation of supplies to a community.

The area along the coast between Anchorage and Valdez are also vulnerable to flooding. Most places in Alaska are in danger of one or more natural hazards such as fires, volcanoes, etc. Fairbanks also experiences earthquakes. However, it has not suffered as severe of earthquakes as the area between Anchorage and Valdez has.

Sources cited

Alaska Department of Geological and Geophysical Surveys. 2020. “Geologic Hazards.” Accessed February 8, 2020.



Natural Hazards Blog #3

What is the most hazardous area in Alaska?

Southern Alaska comprising the Cook Inlet and nearest communities.

This area is near the Spur, Redoubt, Iliamna, and Augustine volcanoes.   Note these volcanoes are stratovolcanoes due to the convergent margin along Alaska’s southern continental margin.   These volcanoes make for explosive volcanoes that erupt violently.   A recent example is from 2019 last December until this month February.   The Shishaldin volcano on Unimak Island is erupting.   This volcano is under observation and tracking of its ash cloud is being monitored.   Ash clouds from volcanoes disrupt flight travel.   Proximity to multiple volcanoes leads to a higher probability of disruption of flight travel in this area.   Any cursory glance at flights into and out of the state of Alaska places Anchorage as an important air travel center.   Debris flow from local volcanoes also may cause a tsunami.

Geometrically this inlet is deep, but it has a large area of low elevation tidal flats along its margins.   Near Anchorage, the Turnagain Arm and Kinik Arm feature tidal flats near population centers.   Many individuals travel near and on these tidal flats.   Others may also surf the bore tide.   Because of the deep cook inlet, this is the tide rushing back into the drained Cook Inlet.   Individuals commonly become stuck in the mudflats and drown.

Because of the convergent boundary along Alaska’s southern margin, this area also features earthquakes.   The Cook Inlet area features earthquakes commonly at 30-100km deep.   These earthquakes may also lead to a tsunami.   Seismicity in the state of Alaska is on an upward trend of more earthquakes have occurred per year since 2005.   2018 was the most active year and 2019 was the second most active year by the UAF earthquake center statistics.

This area is a large watershed.   As such, much sediment is fed into it.   These sediments are from the Matanuska glacier, Kinik river, little and big Susitna Rivers.   This area is tectonically active and volcanically active.   There are potential complications due to coastal erosion and subsidence from storm surges, tsunami, and or earthquakes.

Other areas in Alaska feature other potential hazards.   Large rivers such as the Porcupine, Yukon, and Kuskokwim feature seasonal breakup flooding.   Within the state of Alaska remote communities are most often along rivers.   Seasonal changes in weather near bodies of water begin to add potential hazards to local small communities.

This area features many potentially dangerous natural hazards.   These alone are not so dangerous.   What makes this area more hazardous is proximity to people.   This area is also nearest to Anchorage as a travel hub.   The possibility of potential harm to public health is what I feel makes this area the most hazardous in Alaska.

Natural Hazards of Alaska’s Arctic Circle

Alaska is considered to be one of the most hazardous states, given its vast wilderness and isolated tundra. Many areas in Alaska have never-ending hazards throughout the state. Yet, one of the most dangerous areas in Alaska is the  Arctic Circle and the Dalton highway that travels nearly 414 miles long. The Alaskan Arctic Circle is a unique place that carries one of the worlds most extreme climates. If you are to ever visit, there are several precautions to take.

The windy and unpaved road to the Circle is very treacherous as many people do not take it seriously. The Dalton highway is one of the lonliest highways in America, that also does not carry cell phone service. In the dead of winter, it is always dark and blistering cold hitting nearly 80 below at its coldest. Originally, it was constructed for the Alaskan Pipeline, as it is also the famous road featured on Ice Road Truckers.  I have personally driven to Circle with my dad several times. The road conditions are awful, as I have noticed many memorial placings on the side of the road where people have died.

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The most dangerous part of Alaska is the South East area. It’s susceptible to flooding, erosion, and tsunamis. There are also active volcanoes in this area. Scientists have discovered active underwater volcanoes. This area is also susceptible to landslides. This part of AK is vulnerable to many natural hazards, making it the most dangerous part of Alaska.

In October 2015, there was an earthquake in the Wrangell-St. Elias park, causing a landslide of 440 billion pounds. This then triggered a tsunami with waves over 600 feet, devastating the Taan Fjord. In June 2016, a 4,000 ft high mountainside collapsed in Glacier Bay National Park, which caused over 100 million pounds of rock to be deposited onto Lamplugh Glacier. Landslides are particularly devastating, and the fact that this area has a large number of them means that this area is dangerous.

The Queen Charlotte-Fairweather Fault lies in South East AK, stretching for 1200 km. Over the past 120 years, there have been six earthquakes that have been 7 or greater. In 2013, there was a 7.5 magnitude earthquake near the town of Craig, which caused scientists concerned because the fault runs offshore, which could cause major issues in the future.

Siren’s Song

The most hazardous place in Alaska is the Stampede Trail in Healy. You may be familiar with location as the site of the “magic bus” from “Into the Wild.” The most dangerous part about this specific site is its allure. While they’re are places more dangerous, they give no reason for laymen to venture yonder. However, the magic bus calls out to many like a siren’s song. About twenty miles off of the park highway, there is no easy way to access it. It requires preparation, and knowledge of the land, somethings that many of its tourist lack. There are neither bridges for foot traffic, nor roads for cars on this trek. Christopher McCandless, whose death and writings created this infamous landmark, has drawn quite the fanbase of people looking to recreate their lives. His writings are so powerful, his followers often decide to embrace the risks that killed McCandless, in hopes to experience what had during his last few days of life.

Alaska in Motion

Alaska has some very serious hazards.   The cold seems to alter the rules of physics.   The population density so low that in many places help is days away.   Even the light levels can be disorientating.   All of this complicating and delaying any emergency response.   Planning and preparing for disasters is critical in such a harsh environment.

I thought Fairbanks was dangerous environment with the harsh cold, threat of fires, occasional tremor,   and possible flooding.   However most of the hazards of any concern in the interior can be planned for and come with some level of prediction and warning.   The most lethal hazards seem to be the ones that come without any warning, and any response complicated by the cold and or isolation of location.

The subduction of the Pacific Plate underneath the North American Plate has created the conditions for a whole host of hazards all along the Pacific coastline.   This narrow stretch of land is subject to some of the largest earthquakes and volcanoes in the world.   Each of which can then trigger equally large tsunamis and avalanches.   This is all compounded by the threat of fires, harsh winters, and isolation from the grid.   Alaska’s Pacific Coastline has every form of geological threat on an outsized scale in an environment that is already harsh and isolated and there are huge bears.

Blog 3 – Natural hazards

Most dangerous area: Kenai peninsula borough


After some research and reading, I believe the most dangerous place in Alaska is the Kenai Peninsula. This is for a number of reasons.

Many avalanches that have claimed fatalities, 12/82 since 1998 occurred just in the Kenai Peninsula. (

Not too many fires in Kenai Peninsula –

Many floods that are destructive do occur here. A really destructive one occurred in winter of 2006 ( this resulted in many fishing areas being out of use for a while. It was caused by ice floes blocking the passage of water, water levels rose and flooded the surrounding area. There was also another flood in 2002, caused by severe precipitation, that caused major damage to the road system, damaged private property and destroyed habitats. (

The Kenai Peninsula contains five volcanoes. Those are Spurr, Redoubt, Iliamna, Augustine, and Douglas. Cook Inlet sits atop a subduction zone and when activity here increases it can cause earthquakes and heating of material from the Earth’s mantle. This sometimes results in material finding its way out as lava. Spurr, Iliamna and Douglas are relatively inactive. Augustine erupted in 2005/6 — caused air traffic interference and ice avalanches ( Mt. Redoubt has erupted a few times too; 1902, 1966-68, 1989-90 and 2009. The 1989-90 and 2009 eruptions caused landslides which led to flooding in the Drift River area. This too caused air traffic disruption and left a blanket of ash over Anchorage. (

Earthquakes. Just looking at this map ( there are many earthquakes in the Kenai Peninsula. Earthquakes can be the precursor for volcanic activity or even a tsunami. However, the risk of a tsunami is relatively low in Kenai. ( on the entire Kenai Peninsula as a whole, the tsunami risk is a bit higher. Looking at this map,, we see the extent of what a tsunami could do should it hit the coast.

The Kenai Peninsula even has permafrost! I didn’t know it stretched that far south! This may also become an issue with warming. As the Earth warms this will accelerate thaw of permafrost leading to weakened infrastructure grounds. Buildings or roads may become distorted or unstable and therefore unsafe.

Last, but not least, coastal erosion. This is a threat to any community situated near the coast. Certain areas of the West coast of the Kenai peninsula between Homer and Nikiski are eroding at particular rates. Some areas relatively slow and some areas faster than others. This article talks about how Kenai is seeking assistance to help with its erosion problem.