6.0 earthquake shakes remote air station in Aleutian Islands

Associated PressJune 19, 2012 

A strong earthquake that struck a remote and sparsely populated region of Alaska on Tuesday was felt on the island of Shemya where the U.S. military operates an air station.

There were no reports of loss.

"They didn't report any damage, not even any objects falling off the shelves," said Natasha Ruppert, a seismologist with the Alaska Earthquake Information Center in Fairbanks.

The center reported that the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.0 and occurred shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday in the Aleutian Islands that extend into the Bering Sea in far southwestern Alaska.

Shemya is 108 miles west-northwest of where the earthquake was centered. It is home to Eareckson Air Station, which serves mainly as an early warning radar installation.

Ruppert said the center called people at the air station who reported that everyone there felt the quake but there was no damage.

A state Web page says most of the military personnel are off the island, but there are dozens of civilian contractors maintaining the facility.

Air Force spokesman Tommie Baker said there was no damage to military facilities or injuries to personnel.

There are no military personnel at the air station, but about 60 civilians work on contract to maintain the facility. Numbers can increase to a couple hundred in the summer months.

Shemya is earthquake-prone because the island on the western end of the Aleutians is where two large tectonic plates collide, causing tension that is released through earthquakes.

The island lies in the middle of the rupture zone of an 8.7-magnitude earthquake that occurred in 1965 and produced a tsunami wave that measured 35 feet.

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