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Geologic Hazards

Ice push Golovin

Sea ice pushed onto shore in Golovin, Alaska, from a winter storm.

A geologic hazard is an adverse geologic condition capable of causing damage or loss of property or life. These geologic processes only become hazards when humans get in their way; if there were no people affected, we would find these natural phenomena interesting, but not concerning. Alaska is home to a variety of potential geologic hazards, and some are unique to our high northern latitude.

Sitka landslide image of house

August 2015 landslide in Sitka, Alaska, resulted in three fatalities and substantial damage to infrastructure.

Common geologic hazards impacting Alaska include flooding and erosion, ground failure, earthquakes, tsunamis, and those associated with active volcanoes. Cryospheric hazards—hazards relating to the frozen regions on the Earth's surface where water is in solid form, (i.e. sea ice, lake ice, river ice, snow cover, glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, and permafrost)—are significant, especially in the northern and alpine regions of the state. Because of its cold-adapted features and rapid warming, climate change impacts on Alaska are particularly pronounced.

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