Recent earthquakes in Alaska, South Pacific catch eyes of scientists in Northwest

An earthquake that struck Wednesday near New Caledonia in the South Pacific is the second one within a week with a magnitude near 7.0. KIRO 7 went to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network to ask if there is a link.

“It's not particularly a cluster or any special event that took place, the fact that they came close together in time is more or less random chance,” said Harold Tobin, the director of PNSN.

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Last Friday, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake rocked Alaska causing significant damage around Anchorage. On Wednesday, the earthquake near the South Pacific Island of New Caledonia measured 7.5.

They are both on the so-called Ring of Fire -- a region spanning the Pacific known for seismic and volcanic activity. The Alaska quake also caused tremors on the other side of the world.

“There's no link between the two earthquakes -- the stress of one transmitting to the other,” Tobin said.

Tobin said the New Caledonia quake has already sent waves that have impacted the network's seismic meters, but nothing that people would notice and nothing that could cause a major quake.

Scientists have always watched seismic and volcanic activity in other parts of the world.

In June, KIRO 7 told you how scientists believed an eruption in Guatemala was very similar to what would happen at Mount Rainier some day, spewing a volcanic lahar forcing evacuations.

Do these latest quakes of the last few days look like the proverbial "Big One" many expect to rock the Cascadia region?

“We would expect a really different type of earthquake from the seismologists point of view and also from what people would feel,” Tobin said. “When we talk about the big one we're talking about a magnitude 8 plus to 9 scale earthquake that's just a completely different beast.”