If earthquakes are your interest, you should mark two areas of the Alaska coast which have been identified by geologists as likely sites of large quakes sometime soon.

They are the "Shumagin gap," along the eastern end of the Aleutian Islands, and the "Yakataga gap" on the mainland near the Canadian border. Scientists believe that they are due for a really big earthquakes, possibly exceeding 8.0 on the Richter scale.

The reason for the concern, ironically, is that these areas have been quiet too long. They represent, in effect, gaps in the normal seismic pattern of the area.

Scientists believe the Alaska coast lies along the zone where the continent collides with the great plate of the earth's crust that lies beneath the Pacific Ocean. Enormous stress builds up there, as the "drifting" continent rides over the ocean plate. This stress is relieved by earthquakes. Frequent quakes relieve the stress in small jolts, but when an area goes for a long period without much activity, geologists theorize that the scene is being set for big quake.

Said Leigh House of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, who reported on the Shumagin gap at a conference in New York last month:

"What we're saying is the area seems to be well along in what we call the great earthquake cycle and therefore seems close to producing another great earthquake. We can't say when it would happen. It might be 10 or 20 years away, possibly longer. But this is an area that seems to be ripe."