In 1964, an earthquake measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale devastated Alaska, killing 125 people and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. A 2002 earthquake with a Richter measurement of 7.9 damaged some vertical supports in elevated sections of the pipeline, but did not cause any breaches in the pipe.
Glacial Flash Floods (Jökulhlaups)
Sometimes glaciers act as dams for temporary lakes formed by glacial run-off or rain. If the waters rise high enough, they can breach glacial barriers and cause flash floods with an Icelandic name, Jökulhlaups. Pipeline supports are built to withstand these unpredictable floods.
Upward Ice (Aufeis)
Ground water that moves to the surface and freezes can push up layers of ice already on the ground, causing jagged stacked ice layers known as aufeis (German for "upward ice"). The ice can move down hills and rivers, causing damage to structures in its path. Elevating the pipeline on vertical supports minimizes its contact with aufeis, and the supports are designed to withstand the moving ice's force.