Effects of the Earthquake of March 27, 1964, on the Alaska Highway System   [open pdf - 20MB]

"The great earthquake that struck Alaska about 5:36 p.m., Alaska standard time, Friday, March 27, 1964 (03:36:1.3.0, Greenwich mean time, March 28, 1964), severely crippled the highway system in the south-central part of the State. All the major highways and most secondary roads were impaired. Damage totaled more than $46 million, well over $25 million to bridges and nearly $21 million to roadways. Of the 204 bridges in south-central Alaska, 141 were damaged; 92 were severely damaged or destroyed. The earthquake damaged 186 of the 830 miles of roadway in south-central Alaska, 83 miles so severely that replacement or relocation was required. Earthquake damage to the roadways and bridges was chiefly by (1) seismic shaking, (2) compaction of fills as well as the underlying sediments, (3) lateral displacement of the roadway and bridges, (4) fractures, (5) landslides, (6) avalanches, (7) inundation by seismic sea waves, (8) scouring by seismic sea waves, (9) regional tectonic subsidence, causing inundation and erosion by high tides in subsided areas. The intensity of damage was controlled primarily by the geologic environment (including the depth of the water table) upon which the highway structures rested, and secondarily by the engineering characteristics of the structures. Structures on bedrock were only slightly damaged if at all, whereas those on unconsolidated sediments were slightly to severely damaged, or were completely destroyed by seismic shaking. The low-lying areas underlain by saturated sediments, such as the Snow River Crossing and Turnagain Arm sections of the Seward-Anchorage Highway, were the most severely damaged stretches of the highway system in south-central Alaska. At Snow River and Turnagain Arm, the sediments underlying the roadway are fine grained and the water table is shallow. These factors were responsible for the intense damage along this stretch of the highway."

Report Number:
Geological Survey Professional Paper No. 545-C
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
U.S. Geological Survey: http://www.usgs.gov/
Media Type:
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