Magnitude-7.7 quake strikes the Bering Sea between Russia and Alaska

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A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.7 has struck the Bering Sea between American and Russian islands, causing small tsunami waves but no damage. All tsunami alerts have now been lifted.

The earthquake, which struck at 11:34 a.m. Tuesday in Russia or 2:34 p.m. Monday in Alaska, was centered about 145 kilometers (90 miles) southeast of Bering Island in Russia, or 302 kilometers (187 miles) northwest of Attu Island in Alaska.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) initially put the preliminary magnitude of the earthquake at 7.4, but it was later upgraded to 7.7. The U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center put the preliminary magnitude at 7.8.

Tsunami alerts were issued for some parts of the remote region after the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quake – which struck at a depth of just 11 kilometers (7 miles) – was capable of causing hazardous tsunami waves. All of the alerts were canceled within 2 hours.

In Alaska, a tsunami advisory was issued for the Aleutian Islands from Samalga Pass to Attu and all of the Pribilof Islands. A tsunami alert was also issued for some parts of Russia’s Far East, with a possibility of small tsunami waves across the Pacific basin.

The U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center said small tsunami waves were observed on the island of Shemya in Alaska’s Near Islands, but there were no reports of damage. Areas across the Pacific may continue to see minor sea level fluctuations for several hours.

The powerful earthquake is expected to have been felt across the region, but damage or casualties are unlikely. The closest islands – Attu Island and Bering Island – have only a small population. Attu Island is also home to Attu Station, which was closed in 2010.

The sparsely populated region of Alaska, which sits on the so-called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, is occasionally struck by powerful earthquakes. Most notably, an enormous 9.2-magnitude earthquake struck north of Prince William Sound in Alaska on March 27, 1964, unleashing a tsunami which killed at least 143 people.

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