The Alaska Seismic Hazards Safety Commission is charged by statute (AS 44.37.067) to recommend goals and priorities for seismic risk mitigation to the public and private sectors and to recommend policies to the governor and legislature to reduce the state's vulnerability to earthquakes. The Commission consists of eleven members appointed by the Governor from the public and private sectors for three-year terms. It is administered by the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys (DGGS).
Alaska is the most seismically active region of the United States and is at risk of economic and societal losses due to large damaging earthquakes. The second largest instrumentally recorded earthquake in the world occurred along the eastern Aleutian subduction zone, the Mw9.2 Great Alaskan earthquake of 1964. The largest on-land earthquake in North America in almost 150 years occurred along the Denali fault in 2002 and was a powerful reminder of the seismic hazards and risk in Alaska.
Schools in Alaska represent more than just education facilities. They act as gathering places for the general public, centers of community development, and emergency shelters in case of a natural disaster. Following the 11/30 Anchorage Earthquake, we all saw how a community can be disrupted when schools are damaged. It is therefore critical that we ensure that our school buildings are designed and constructed with Alaska's seismic risk in mind.
The Alaska Seismic Hazard Safety Commission has worked with several Alaska school districts to complete FEMA Rapid Visual Screening (RVS) of their school facilities to identify those at risk of damage in a seismic event. This is the first step in a process of improving the seismic safety of our schools:
The commission has initiated Step 1 in this process and confirmed that there is a great need for Step 2 and Step 3 to be completed. We strongly recommend that the Governor and Legislature take up this issue.
Click the links below for more information on the Rapid Visual Screening efforts of the Commission: