The 12 Biggest Earthquakes Ever

Valdivia Earthquake

Photo: Wikipedia

The 8.9 monster quake that rocked Japan and is casting tsunamis across the Pacific is the seventh biggest in recorded history.It is only slightly smaller than the 2004 Indonesian quake that killed 230,000 people.

The Richter scale measures seismographic oscillations and increases on a logarithmic scale.

8.7 -- Valparaiso, Chile -- July 8, 1730

The Valparaiso quake struck at 3:45 a.m. local time, but was preceded by a series of violent foreshocks causing people to vacate their homes so fatalities were minimal.

The tsunami following the quake was 48 feet high and 620 miles long.

Chile is home to the strongest earthquake ever recorded.

8.7 -- Lisbon, Portugal -- November 1, 1755

The Great Lisbon Earthquake occurred at 9:41 Saturday morning.

The quake caused tsunamis, and widespread fires helping the death tool reach up to 100,000 people.

The total population of Lisbon at the time was estimated to be not much more than 200,000.

Current estimates put the cost at up to 48 per cent of the country's, then, GDP.

8.7 -- Rat Islands, Alaska -- February 4, 1965

The Rat Islands are the southernmost islands in the Aleutians off the coast of Alaska and the quake struck at 9:01 p.m. local time.

The islands were lightly populated and caused very little damage, about $67,000 in today's dollars, though the ensuing tsunami, with waves cresting at 33 ft, was observed in northern Kauai, Hawaii, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, California, Japan and eastern Russia.

8.8 -- Ecuador -- January 31, 1906

The Ecuador-Colombia earthquake struck at 7:36 a.m off the coast of both countries.

The rupture zone, where the ground split or shifted, was almost 400 miles long and caused tsunamis with waves up to 15 feet in Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, California and Japan.

8.8 -- Chilean coast -- February 27, 2010

The 2010 Chilean quake hit at 3:34 a.m., lasted for three minutes and was felt by 80 per cent of the country's population.

The epicentre was 6.8 miles offshore, 521 people were killed and damage estimates ran to $30 billion.

93 per cent of the country endured a blackout lasting up to a week following the event.

8.9 -- Japan -- March 11, 2011

The most powerful earthquake in Japan's history struck offshore, but was followed by 19 aftershocks.

The quake was felt in Tokyo, hundreds of miles away.

A tsunami warning was issued for the entire Pacific region, including the entire U.S. West Coast, South America, Alaska and Canada.

9.0 -- North America -- January 26, 1700

The quake struck at 9:00 p.m. along the Pacific Coast of North America with a rupture zone of over 600 miles.

There is no written record of the quake, but Japanese tsunamis and tree ring aberrations support geological evidence.

9.0 -- Peru -- August 13, 1868

The quake hit at 9:30 local time, killed 25,000 people and total led $4.8 billion in damages (adjusted for inflation).

Tsunamis were reported in in Hawaii, Japan and New Zealand.

9.0 -- Russia -- November 4, 1952

The earthquake struck at 4:58 a.m. local time in the Kamchatka peninsula and the Kuril Islands with minor loss of life.

Affects were also felt in Hawaii and Japan, with property and livestock damage totaling almost $8 million (adjusted), but no loss of life.

The tsunamis hit Alaska, Chile, and New Zealand.

9.1 -- Indonesia -- December 26, 2004

The 2004 Indonesian quake killed more than 230,000 people in fourteen countries, and hit coastal communities in the region with waves up to 100 feet high.

The seismic shift lasted for up to 10 minutes and was so powerful the entire planet vibrated almost half an inch.

Other quakes were triggered as far away as Alaska and the damage amounted to $14 billion.

9.2 -- Alaska, United States -- March 27, 1964

The most powerful earthquake in U.S. and North American history struck Alaska on Good Friday at 5:36 p.m. local time.

The seismic activity was so strong, that in many places, the soil turned to liquid.

131 people died in the quake and 106 in tsunamis that ran down the coast to Oregon and California.

Property damage was $2.2 billion in today's dollars.

9.5 -- Valdivia, Chile -- May 5, 1960

The most powerful earthquake ever recorded occurred at 2:11 p.m. local time and caused landslides, tsunamis, flooding and volcanic eruptions.

Adjusted for inflation damages totaled $5.8 billion.

Waves up to 82 feet struck southern Chile, Japan, Hawaii, eastern New Zealand, the Philippines, the Aleutian Islands in Alaska and southeast Australia.

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