Seismology Outreach in Alaska

Friday, 19 December 2014
Lea Gardine, Carl Tape and Michael Edwin West, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, United States
Despite residing in a state with 75% of North American earthquakes and three of the top 15 ever recorded, most Alaskans have limited knowledge about the science of earthquakes. To many, earthquakes are just part of everyday life, and to others, they are barely noticed until a large event happens, and often ignored even then. Alaskans are rugged, resilient people with both strong independence and tight community bonds. Rural villages in Alaska, most of which are inaccessible by road, are underrepresented in outreach efforts. Their remote locations and difficulty of access make outreach fiscally challenging. Teacher retention and small student bodies limit exposure to science and hinder student success in college.

The arrival of EarthScope’s Transportable Array, the 50th anniversary of the Great Alaska Earthquake, targeted projects with large outreach components, and increased community interest in earthquake knowledge have provided opportunities to spread information across Alaska. We have found that performing hands-on demonstrations, identifying seismological relevance toward career opportunities in Alaska (such as natural resource exploration), and engaging residents through place-based experience have increased the public’s interest and awareness of our active home.