Spring was returning to Alaska on Friday 27 March 1964. A two‐week cold snap had just ended, and people were getting ready for the Easter weekend. At 5:36 p.m., an earthquake initiated 12 km beneath Prince William Sound, near the eastern end of what is now recognized as the Alaska‐Aleutian subduction zone. No one was expecting this earthquake that would radically alter the coastal landscape, influence the direction of science, and indelibly mark the growth of a burgeoning state.

Over the next five minutes, it ruptured up‐dip and 700 km southwest along the subduction zone toward Kodiak Island (Fig. 1...

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