The Good Friday earthquake of March 27, 1964, was the most massive earthquake ever recorded in North America (and the second largest in the world), a 9.2 magnitude shaker that lasted for over four and a half minutes and devastated south-central Alaska, causing ground fissures, collapsing buildings, landslides, tsunamis, and over a hundred and thirty deaths.
It also created what is now known as the “ghost forest” of Girdwood, when the resulting floodwaters swept into a tidal basin, turning what was once a forest into a swamp studded with the skeletons of massive dead trees.
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When the earthquake hit, the bedrock in this tidal basin dropped about nine feet, causing the mud, trees, and everything else in the area to drop as well. Ocean water swept in, flooding the whole area with salt and killing the trees. Landslides and silt deposits from the flood filled in the newly formed valleys, trapping much of the trees below ground. When you are looking at the “bottom” of these dead skeleton trees now what you really see is the middle of them—the parts of the trunks seven to ten feet above their original ground points.
Now, plants that can grow in the more hardy, salivated earth have begun to sprout around the skeletons of the dead trees, making the land into an eerie marsh.
This area of Alaska is on the northernmost part of the Pacific “ring of fire”, a tectonically active zone of the Earth that encompasses the entire western seaboard of the United States and Canada.