Brief tsunami warning follows 6.8 earthquake off Aleutians

September 2, 2011 

A 6.8-magnitude earthquake in the Pacific Ocean prompted a brief tsunami warning early Friday morning for Alaska's Aleutian Islands.

The warning was canceled after only a small wave was recorded in Atka, an island community of 61 residents located about 1,200 miles southwest of Anchorage.

"In Atka, they had a little bump of a wave, but nothing of any kind of a destructive power. Just a wave," said Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Homeland Security.

The earthquake struck at about 2:55 a.m., according to the United States Geological Survey.

Gov. Sean Parnell said there was no report of injury or significant damage but he took the opportunity to remind Alaskans to be prepared for a disaster, to have at least a week's worth of supplies like food and water on hand.

The tsunami warning was issued for coastal areas of Alaska from Unimak Pass to Amchitka Pass, remote and not heavily populated areas.

Residents were evacuating to higher ground in Atka but then stopped at the cancellation, Zidek said.

A woman who answered the phone at the city hall in Unalaska but declined to give her name said people at Dutch Harbor were awakened by sirens.

"We have some people on high ground, but not a lot," she said before the warning was canceled. "Sirens woke us all up -- everybody's moving."

The state emergency response center was staffed early Friday morning.

The preliminary measurement was that it was a 7.1-magnitude quake, but the USGS later put the official size at 6.8. The temblor was at a depth of 27 miles and centered about 115 miles east of Atka.

The Alaska Earthquake Information Center said 30 aftershocks were recorded later Friday, with six of those above magnitude 4.0.

Scientist at the Alaska Volcano Observatory said extensive cloud cover was obscuring Cleveland Volcano, and it wasn't immediately clear if the magnitude 6.8 earthquake has affected the volcano in the Aleutian Islands.

The alert level for the volcano was lowered this week after satellite data indicated that growth of a lava dome has paused or stopped.

In June, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 in the same area of the Aleutians also prompted a tsunami warning.

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