The Top 5 Earthquakes in Recorded History

These largest earthquakes have wreaked havoc on human life and property. The smallest/weakest of these ten earthquakes has a magnitude of 8.6, which is six times stronger than the recent Nepal Earthquake (2015), which had a magnitude of 7.8 and killed 3000+ (and counting) people.

The Valdivia Earthquake

The 1960 Valdivia earthquake was the largest in recorded history. With a magnitude of 9.5 Mw, it claimed the lives of 1655 people and injured over 2000 others. This earthquake caused a tsunami that travelled across the Pacific Ocean, affecting Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, eastern New Zealand, southeast Australia, and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. More than 2 million people were displaced as a result of the Valdivia earthquake and Tsunami. This earthquake also had the largest rupture zone ever recorded (more than 1000 km in diameter).

The Alaskan Earthquake

The 1964 Alaskan earthquake was the world’s second most powerful earthquake ever measured by a seismograph, and the largest earthquake in continental America. Because the area was densely populated, the damage was limited to only 141 human lives. Buildings and structures as far away as Hawaii were destroyed as a result of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The quake lasted more than three minutes.

Sumatra Earthquake

The 2004 Sumatra Boxing Day earthquake was the deadliest in the twenty-first century. The magnitude of the disaster caused by this earthquake is immense. In total, 227,900 people were killed and 1.7 million were displaced in 14 countries as a result of the Tsunami caused by the Sumatra earthquake. The loss is enormous because countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Indonesia are not considered Tsunami prone zones, and as a result, no Tsunami warning system was in place. The tsunami’s epicentre was 30 kilometres deep in the south-east of Band Aceh, Indonesia.

The Tohoku Earthquake

The combined effect of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, aftershocks, and tsunami was so devastating that 15800 people died. The epicentre of this undersea megathrust earthquake was 70 kilometres east of Tohoku, Japan. It is one of the Top 5 Largest Earthquakes in Recorded History, with a magnitude of 9.0. To avoid mishaps, Japan had to shut down some nuclear plans as a result of the earthquake. The economic consequences of this earthquake were enormous for Japan’s economy, as it caused a power shortage.

The Kamchatka Earthquake

The Kamchatka earthquake was the first recorded earthquake with a magnitude of 9. Despite its origins in nomads’ territory, it caused the Severo-Kurilsk tsunami, which caused widespread damage and resulted in the deaths of 2336 people.

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