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USGS Scientist Says Alaska, New Zealand Quakes Might Be Linked

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) -- With massive quakes striking off the Alaskan and New Zealand coast Monday, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey said he is weighing the possibilities that the two might be connected.

David Oppenheimer of the USGS told KCBS that there are several times a year when large earthquakes across the world occur within minutes of each other.

On Monday, a magnitude 6.9 quake occurred off the coast of New Zealand shortly after noon Pacific Time. A magnitude 7.9 quake struck off the Aleutian Islands struck shortly before 2 p.m. Pacific.

Oppenheimer said it is possible the New Zealand quake triggered the Alaska quake.

"The timing of it is such that we call the surface waves, the waves that travel around the circumference of the earth, arrived about the time the earthquake occurred, Oppenheimer said. The USGS scientist said more study would be needed.

While that remains under investigation, Oppenheimer said the Alaska quake would have happened soon if the New Zealand quake did not occur.

"There is just so much stress relieved within an earthquake of magnitude 7.9," he said.

The Aleutian Islands are a seismically active area. Since 1906, five earthquakes of magnitude 7.7 or higher have taken place within 250 miles of the epicenter of Monday's quake.

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