World Earthquakes

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Ten largest earthquakes in the world, 1900-1994. USGS National Earthquake Information Center.


Chronological

Alphabetical

Magnitude


Lisbon, Portugal, 1755

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Ruins of the Cathedral and the Basilica of Santa Maria. (Copper engraving, caption in French and Portuguese; no.5 in the Le Bas series, Paris, 1757.) Kozak Collection, Earthquake Engineering Research Center, UC Berkeley.

Date: November 1, 1755

Time: 9:40 A.M.

Location: Just offshore of Lisbon

Magnitude: MW 8.6 (estimated)

Tsunami: Wave height 15 meters (50 feet)

Deaths: 60,000 in Lisbon; 10,000 in Morocco

Damage: Lisbon was leveled by the earthquake and subsequent fire

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Messina, Italy, 1908

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Via Cavour, Messina. Typical destruction of masonry walls and timber interiors. Steinbrugge Collection, Earthquake Engineering Research Center, UC Berkeley.

Date: December 28, 1908

Time: 5:21 A.M.

Location: Messina Straits

Magnitude: MW 7.5

Modified Mercalli Intensity: XI

Depth: 8-10 km (5-6 miles)

Fault: Messina fault

Tsunami: Wave height: 6 meters (~20 feet)

Deaths: 120,000

Damage: Messina almost entirely destroyed

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Chile, 1960

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Port, Puerto Montt, Chile. This entire area lurched toward the bay. The fill was silty material and was not stable. Note twisted rails. Steinbrugge Collection, Earthquake Engineering Research Center, UC Berkeley.

Date: May 22, 1960

Time: 3:11 P.M. AST

Location: About 160 km (100 miles) WNW of Puerto Montt, in the Eastern Pacific

Depth: 33 km (~20 miles)

Magnitude: MW 9.5

Fault: Andean deep seismic zone

Rupture Length: 1000 km (621 miles) long, 200 km (124 miles) wide

Maximum Vertical Displacement: 2 meters subsidence, 6 meters uplift

Deaths and Injuries: Southern Chile: over 2000 killed, 3000 injured, 2 million homeless; Hawaii (tsunami): 61 deaths; Japan (tsunami): 138 deaths; Philippines (tsunami): 32 dead or missing

Damage: Southern Chile: $550 million; Hawaii: $75 million; Japan: $50 million; U.S. west coast: $500,000

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Peru 1970

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Left: Aerial photo of Casma taken before the earthquake. The central plaza can be seen in the lower left corner for reference. Construction is the adobe Spanish-type construction. Right: Aerial photo of Casma after the earthquake showing almost total destruction. Steinbrugge Collection, Earthquake Engineering Research Center, UC Berkeley.

Date: May 31, 1970

Time: A.M. PST

Location: Offshore of central Peru

Depth: 64 km (40 miles)

Magnitude: MS 7.8

Fault Type: Normal

Deaths and Injuries: 66,000 killed; 100,000 injured

Damage: $530 million

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Tangshan, China, 1976

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Collapsed railroad building. Reinforced concrete roof trusses and columns. Steinbrugge Collection, Earthquake Engineering and Research Center, UC Berkeley.

Date: July 28, 1976

Time: 3:42 A.M.

Location: Tangshan

Depth: 11 km (6.8 miles)

Magnitude: MW 7.6

Modified Mercalli Intensity: XI

Fault: Tancheng-Lujiang (Tan-Lu) fault system

Fault Type: Right-lateral strike slip

Rupture Length: 150 km (93 miles)

Maximum Horizontal Displacement: 7 meters (23 feet)

Deaths and Injuries: 250,000-500,000 killed; 500,000 injured

Damage: $5.6 billion

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Mexico City, 1985

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Collapsed building, area between the Plaza de la Constitution and Zona Rosa. Steinbrugge Collection, Earthquake Engineering Research Center, UC Berkeley.

Date: September 19, 1985

Time: 7:17 A.M.

Location: Near the coast at the border between the states of Michoacan and Guerrero

Magnitude: MW 7.9

Modified Mercalli Intensity: IX

Fault: Michoacan segment of the Mexican Trench subduction zone

Tsunami: Wave height: 2 meters (6.5 feet)

Deaths and Injuries: 10,000 killed; 50,000 injured

Damage: $5 billion

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Kobe, Japan, 1995

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Nishinomiya Bridge. Kobe Geotechnical Collection, Earthquake Engineering Research Center, UC Berkeley.

Date: January 17, 1995

Time: 5:46 A.M.

Location:

Depth: 15-20 km (~9.3-12.5 miles)

Magnitude: MW 6.9

Modified Mercalli Intensity: X-XI

Fault: Median Tectonic Line (MTL) fault system; Nojimo fault, Rokko fault

Fault Type: Right-lateral strike slip

Rupture Length: Below surface: 60 km (37 miles); surface: 9 km (5.6 miles)

Maximum Horizontal Displacement: 2.1 meters (6.9 feet)

Maximum Vertical Displacement: 1.5 meters (4.9 feet)

Deaths and Injuries: 5500 killed; 35,000 injured

Damage: $147 billion

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