10 Largest Earthquakes of All Time

Few events are as terrifying and humiliating as natural disasters.

Their widespread destruction and destruction reminds us that no matter how far we have advanced in terms of civilization, humans cannot control nature.

Earthquakes occur due to the movement of the earth’s tectonic plates.

Currently, there are no known faults large enough to cause a perfect magnitude 10 earthquake–but some of the 10 largest earthquakes ever recorded come very close.

Let’s take a look at these major disasters, ranked by size.

The Nias earthquake

The earthquake occurred on the island of Nias, killing almost half of the population of Gunungsitoli, the island’s largest city.

Most of the people who died were sleeping when the earthquake struck, or were unable to escape to the upper floors of buildings.

The earthquake itself lasted about two minutes and caused 51 aftershocks to occur in the next 8 hours alone.

The island of Simeulu was also affected by the earthquake and destroyed Nias.

Location: Assam, Tibet

Just three years after India gained independence from Great Britain, disaster struck in the form of an earthquake with an epicenter 20 kilometers below the Tibetan city of Rami.

Massive landslides have occurred as a result of violent shaking, causing rivers to dam up until the water overflows and causes more damage.

The Assam earthquake was the largest earthquake on record caused by subduction of continental plates instead of subduction.

The Rat Islands Earthquake

Location: Aleutian Islands, Alaska

Casualties: 0 reported

While this earthquake cost a lot of money, as it caused damage estimated at R10 000, it had a silver lining because it did not cause any injuries or deaths.

Most of the damage was caused by the tsunami rather than the earthquake itself, and tsunami warnings were issued along the coast between Nikolski and Attu.

The Aleutian arc where the North American and Pacific crustal plates meet has proven to be one of the most active seismic areas in the world.

Location: Ecuador and Colombia

The earthquake caused a tsunami that killed many people in the aftermath.

The greatest loss and damage occurred along the coast between Micay, Colombia, and Río Verde, Ecuador.

Much of the data about the earthquake was obtained by observing and analyzing waveforms.

The earthquake occurred on top of the South American Plate and the Nazca Plate, creating a fault zone more than 350 kilometers long.

The Maule earthquake

Location: Offshore Bio-Bio, Chile

The epicenter of the devastating earthquake was 200 kilometers southwest of Santiago, the capital of Chile, while its shock was felt as far away as Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The rupture between the South America Plate and the Nazca Plate that later caused the earthquake was caused by increased water pressure.

The Maule earthquake caused extensive damage to surrounding buildings and infrastructure, severely affecting the local economy while trade and rescue missions were disrupted.

Location: Kamchatka, Russia

This earthquake caused the Kamchatka Peninsula Tsunami, which destroyed the inhabitants there with waves reaching 50 meters high.

The earthquake occurred north of the Okhotsk Plate, where it was subducted by the Pacific Plate, and several nearby volcanoes.

The Hawaiian Islands were the worst affected by the earthquake outside of the local area where it occurred, receiving losses of approximately 17 million dollars.

Midway Island, in particular, was inundated with water that filled the streets.

The Tohoku earthquake

Location: Sendai, Japan

The resulting tsunami from the Tohoku earthquake washed away more than 200 kilometers of land along the coast of Honshu with waves as high as 12-story buildings.

Perhaps the most terrifying impact of this natural disaster was the nuclear meltdown at the level 7 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

With damages reaching $235 billion, this tsunami is estimated to be the costliest natural disaster in history.

About 47,000 people had to be evacuated following the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi.

Sumatra-Andaman Islands Earthquake

Location: Sumatra, Indonesia

Location: Sumatra, Indonesia

Known as the Indian Ocean Earthquake, the Sumatra-Andaman Islands Earthquake displaced large amounts of water to create the Indian Ocean Tsunami, which cost about $10 billion in domestic losses.

The waves from this terrible natural disaster reached so far that it caused damage to all the seas along the coast of East Africa.

Scientists estimate that the Indian Ocean Earthquake released the same amount of energy used by the entire United States in 11 days.

Great Alaska Earthquake (Prince William Sound)

Location: Southern Alaska

Also known as Alaska’s Good Friday Earthquake, this massive earthquake triggered several tsunamis that swept over several coastal towns, including one that reached 200 meters in height.

The shock also triggered a series of devastating landslides in Anchorage.

The impact of the Great Alaskan Earthquake was so far reaching that it moved the Space Needle 1,200 miles away in Seattle, Washington.

The 16 deaths caused by this earthquake occurred on the coast of California and Oregon where the tsunami waves reached to destroy more.

Valdivia earthquake (Chile’s biggest earthquake)

Size: 9.5

Size: 9.5

Size: 9.5

Size: 9.5

Size: 9.5

Size: 9.5

Size: 9.5

Size: 9.5

Size: 9.5

Size: 9.5

Location: Bio-Bio, Chile

Victims: 6,000

Victims: 6,000

Victims: 6,000

Victims: 6,000

Casualties: 6,000

Casualties: 6,000

Victims: 6,000

Casualties: 6,000

Victims: 6,000

The Valdivia earthquake was the largest earthquake ever recorded in the world.

Like other nearby earthquakes, the Great Chile earthquake was triggered by the Nazca Plate moving beneath the South American Plate.

The eruption area covered about 621 kilometers of coastline, and tsunami waves affected coasts as far away as Japan and New Zealand.

The earthquake was named after Valdivia, the city most affected by the natural disaster and its consequences.

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