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10 Largest Earthquakes in History! Biggest Earthquakes Recorded to Day

Natural disasters are among the most horrifying and demeaning occurrences. Their extensive destruction and devastation serve as a reminder that despite our advancements in civilization, nature is still beyond the control of humanity.

The tectonic plates of the Earth move, which causes earthquakes. Seismograph networks are used to measure them, and a Richter scale score out of ten is given. While none of the 10 greatest recorded earthquakes have ever produced an earthquake with a magnitude of exactly 10, some of them have gone dangerously close. Let’s examine these large-scale catastrophes in order of magnitude.

Nias Earthquake

Magnitude: 8.6
 Location: Sumatra, Indonesia
 Year: 2005
 Casualties: 1313

The main city on the island of Nias, Gunungsitoli, lost about half of its inhabitants as a result of this earthquake. Many of those who died were asleep when the earthquake struck or were trapped on top stories of buildings and unable to flee. The actual earthquake lasted for around two minutes, and over the course of the next eight hours, there were 51 aftershocks.

Did You Know?
The same earthquake that wrecked Nias also impacted the island of Simeulu.

Assam

Magnitude: 8.6
 Location: Assam, Tibet
 Year: 1950
 Casualties: 780

Tragically, an earthquake with an epicenter 20 miles beneath the Tibetan city of Rami hit just three years after India earned its independence from Great Britain. As a result of the ferocious shaking, enormous landslides happened, damming off rivers until the water spilled through and caused even more damage.

Did You Know?
The Assam Earthquake was the biggest earthquake ever recorded that wasn’t generated by oceanic subduction but rather the convergence of continental plates.

Rat Islands Earthquake

Magnitude: 9.7
 Location: Aleutian Islands, Alaska
 Year: 1965
 Casualties: 0 reported

The earthquake was fairly expensive, costing an estimated $10,000 in property damage, however there were no documented injuries or fatalities as a result of it. As a result of tsunami warnings being issued along the entire stretch of coastline between Nikolski and Attu, the tsunami itself actually did more damage than the earthquake itself.

Did You Know?
One of the seismically active regions in the world has been found to be the Aleutian arc, which is where the North American and Pacific crustal plates converge.

Ecuador–Colombia Earthquake

Magnitude: 8.8
 Location: Ecuador and Colombia
 Year: 1906
 Casualties: 1,500

This earthquake caused a terrible tsunami that resulted in the deaths of many more people. Between Micay, Colombia, and Ro Verde, Ecuador, the coast suffered the most losses and damages. A large portion of the information on this earthquake was gathered by seeing and examining wave shapes.

Did You Know?
This earthquake ruptured a zone that was more than 350 miles long over the South American Plate and the Nazca Plate.

Maule Earthquake

Magnitude: 8.8
 Location: Offshore Bio-Bio, Chile
 Year: 2010
 Casualties: 521

While its impact was felt as far away as Buenos Aires, Argentina, the epicenter of this deadly earthquake was situated around 200 miles southwest of Santiago, the capital of Chile. Later, it was determined that a buildup of water pressure was what triggered the break between the South America Plate and Nazca Plate, which resulted in the earthquake.

Read more interesting stuff! See 10 Surprising Google Earth Discoveries.

Did You Know?
The Maule Earthquake had a tremendous impact on the local economy and interrupted trade and rescue efforts while severely damaging the surrounding structures and infrastructure.

Kamchatka

Magnitude: 9.0
 Location: Kamchatka, Russia
 Year: 1952
 Casualties: 15,000

The historic Kamchatka Peninsula Tsunami, which this earthquake sparked, devastated the local inhabitants with waves as high as 50 feet. The earthquake started above the Okhotsk Plate, where the Pacific Plate was subducting it and there were numerous volcanoes nearby.

Did You Know?
Outside of the immediate area where the earthquake occurred, the Hawaiian Islands had damages of around $17 million, making them the most severely affected. Particularly on Midway Island, the streets were swamped by the torrent of water.

Tohoku Earthquake

Magnitude: 9.1
 Location: Sendai, Japan
 Year: 2011
 Casualties: 22,000

The Tohoku Earthquake’s subsequent tsunami inundated more than 200 square miles of land along the Honshu coast with waves as high as 12-story buildings. The level 7 nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant were perhaps this natural disaster’s most horrific side effect. This tsunami was projected to be the most expensive natural disaster in history, with damages totaling $235 billion.

Did You Know?
Following the terrible events at Fukushima Daiichi, around 47,000 people had to be evacuated.

Sumatra-Andaman Islands Earthquake

Magnitude: 9.1
 Location: Sumatra, Indonesia
 Year: 2004
 Casualties: 227,900

The Sumatra-Andaman Islands Earthquake, also referred to as the Indian Ocean Earthquake, caused the Indian Ocean Tsunami, which caused local damages of almost $10 billion. The waves from this terrifying natural disaster traveled so far that they damaged the East African coast all the way across the Atlantic.

Did You Know?
The Indian Ocean earthquake is thought to have unleashed the same amount of energy that the United States uses in its whole over the course of 11 days.

Great Alaskan earthquake

Magnitude: 9.2
 Location: Southern Alaska
 Year: 1964
 Casualties: 130

This enormous earthquake, also known as Alaska’s Good Friday Earthquake, triggered numerous tsunamis that flooded several coastal towns, including one with a wave height of more than 200 feet. In Anchorage, the shockwaves also triggered a number of devastating landslides. The Great Alaskan Earthquake’s effects were felt 1,200 miles away in Seattle, Washington, when the Space Needle was shaken.

Did You Know?
16 people perished as a result of this earthquake in California and Oregon, where the tsunami waves reached and inflicted even more devastation.

Valdivia Earthquake (Great Chilean Earthquake)

Magnitude: 9.5
 Location: Bio-Bio, Chile
 Year: 1960
 Casualties: 6,000

The greatest earthquake ever recorded in the world was the Valdivia Earthquake. The Nazca Plate advancing beneath the South American Plate caused the Great Chilean Earthquake, along with numerous additional neighboring quakes. The tsunami waves impacted coasts as far away as Japan and New Zealand, whose about 621 miles of shoreline were within the rupture zone.

Did you know?

The city most badly impacted by the natural disaster and its aftereffects, Valdivia, inspired the naming of this earthquake.

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