Summary

The study of the Alaskan earthquake of July 22, 1937, is based on the examination of original seismograms and photographic copies from seismological observatories throughout the world.

The arrival times of P at 71 stations were used in locating the epicenter. By Geiger's method and the use of Jeffreys' travel times, the position of the epicenter was found to be: geographical latitude, 64.67±.04° N, longitude, 146.58±.12° W, and the time of occurrence to be 17h 9m 30.0±.25s, U.T. The epicenter lies in the Yukon-Tanana upland in central Alaska, which is not a region of frequent major earthquakes.

The disagreement caused by the apparently early arrivals at College and Sitka was reduced by replacing the standard travel-time curve of P by a linear travel-time curve in the interval of epicentral distance 0° to 16° and by interpreting the first arrival at College as P.

It was possible to determine the direction of the first motion of P for 51 stations. The observed distribution of first motion and the geological trends in the region of the epicenter are consistent with the earthquake's having been caused by movement along a fault with strike between N 30° E and N 37° E, and dip between 64° and 71° to the southeast, in which the southeast side of the fault was displaced relatively northeastward with the line of movement pitching between 12° and 16° northeast.

A wave designated F (for “false S”) was found to precede S on the records by 20 to 55 seconds, depending on the epicentral distance. The wave is longitudinal in type and the arrival times define a linear travel-time curve. It is suggested that this wave may be a longitudinal surface wave, of the type proposed by Nakano, produced at the surface of the earth by the arrival of a transverse wave which has been reflected at a surface of discontinuity within the earth.

The records show two impulses near the time when S is expected. The average time interval between the two impulses is 11.3 sec. The first, called S1, has a plane of vibration intermediate in direction between the plane of propagation and the normal thereto. The second impulse, called S2, is nearly pure SH movement.

The writer wishes to express his indebtedness to Professor Perry Byerly for invaluable suggestions and criticism during the course of the investigation.

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