A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake has rattled the Alaskan peninsula sparking a tsunami warning for the area.

The quake hit at 6.12pm (NZT) at a depth of 10km, 120km south of Chignik, according to the US Geological Survey.

A tsunami warning was issued for South Alaska, the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands but was lifted by 8.40pm.

On Kodiak Island, the local high school opened its doors for evacuees, as did the local Catholic school, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

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"We've got a high school full of people," said Larry LeDoux, superintendent of the Kodiak School District. "I've been passing out masks since the first siren sounded," he told the Daily News.

"Everything's as calm as can be. We've got probably 300, 400 people all wearing masks," he said.

Shallow quakes are more likely to produce devastating tsunamis.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said for other US and Canadian Pacific coasts there is no tsunami threat.

-AP