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1906 San Francisco earthquake

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck the coast of Northern California at 5:12 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18, with an estimated moment magnitude of 7.9 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of XI (Extreme). High-intensity shaking was felt from Eureka on the North Coast to the Salinas Valley, an agricultural region to the south of the San Francisco Bay Area. Devastating fires soon broke out in the city and lasted for several days. More than 3,000 people died, and over 80% of the city of San Francisco was destroyed. The events are remembered as one of the worst and deadliest earthquakes in the history of the United States. The death toll remains the greatest loss of life from a natural disaster in California's history and high on the lists of American disasters.


1958 Lituya Bay earthquake and megatsunami

The 1958 Lituya Bay earthquake occurred on July 10 at 22:15:58 PST with a moment magnitude of 7.8 to 8.3 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of XI (Extreme). The strike-slip earthquake took place on the Fairweather Fault and triggered a rockslide of 40 million cubic yards (30 million cubic meters and about 90 million tons) into the narrow inlet of Lituya Bay, Alaska. The impact was heard 50 miles (80 km) away, and the sudden displacement of water resulted in a megatsunami that washed out trees to a maximum elevation of 1,720 feet (524 meters) at the entrance of Gilbert Inlet. This is the largest and most significant megatsunami in modern times; it forced a re-evaluation of large-wave events and the recognition of impact events, rockfalls, and landslides as causes of very large waves.


1960 Valdivia earthquake

The 1960 Valdivia earthquake (Spanish: Terremoto de Valdivia) or the Great Chilean earthquake (Gran terremoto de Chile) on 22 May 1960 was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded. Various studies have placed it at 9.4–9.6 on the moment magnitude scale. It occurred in the afternoon (19:11 GMT, 15:11 local time), and lasted for approximately 10 minutes. The resulting tsunamis affected southern Chile, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, eastern New Zealand, southeast Australia, and the Aleutian Islands. The epicenter of this megathrust earthquake was near Lumaco, approximately 570 kilometres (350 mi) south of Santiago, with Valdivia being the most affected city. The tremor caused localised tsunamis that severely battered the Chilean coast, with waves up to 25 metres (82 ft). The main tsunami traveled across the Pacific Ocean and devastated Hilo, Hawaii, where waves as high as 10.7 metres (35 ft) were recorded over 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) from the epicenter. The death toll and monetary losses arising from this widespread disaster are not certain. Various estimates of the total number of fatalities from the earthquake and tsunamis have been published, ranging between 1,000 and 6,000 killed. Different sources have estimated the monetary cost ranged from US$400 million to $800 million (or $3.5 billion to $7 billion in 2020, adjusted for inflation).


2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami (also known as the Boxing Day Tsunami and, by the scientific community, the Sumatra–Andaman earthquake) occurred at 07:58:53 in local time (UTC+7) on 26 December, with an epicentre off the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. It was an undersea megathrust earthquake that registered a magnitude of 9.1–9.3 Mw, reaching a Mercalli intensity up to IX in certain areas. The earthquake was caused by a rupture along the fault between the Burma Plate and the Indian Plate. A series of massive tsunami waves grew up to 30 m (100 ft) high once heading inland, after being created by the underwater seismic activity offshore. Communities along the surrounding coasts of the Indian Ocean were devastated, and the tsunamis killed an estimated 227,898 people in 14 countries, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. The direct results caused major disruptions to living conditions and commerce in coastal provinces of surrounded countries, including Aceh (Indonesia), Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu (India) and Khao Lak (Thailand). Banda Aceh reported the largest number of deaths. The earthquake was the third-largest ever recorded, the largest in the 21st century and had the longest duration of faulting ever observed, between eight and ten minutes. It caused the planet to vibrate as much as 10 mm (0.4 in), and also remotely triggered earthquakes as far away as Alaska. Its epicentre was between Simeulue and mainland Sumatra.


2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami

The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami (Japanese: 東北地方太平洋沖地震, Hepburn: Tōhoku-chihō Taiheiyō Oki Jishin) occurred at 14:46 JST (05:46 UTC) on 11 March. The magnitude 9.0–9.1 (Mw) undersea megathrust earthquake had an epicenter in the Pacific Ocean, 72 km (45 mi) east of the Oshika Peninsula of the Tōhoku region, and lasted approximately six minutes, causing a tsunami. It is sometimes known in Japan as the "Great earthquake disaster of East Japan" (東日本大震災, Higashi nihon daishinsai), among other names. The disaster is often referred to in both Japanese and English as simply 3.11 (read san ten ichi-ichi in Japanese).It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan, and the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900. The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that may have reached heights of up to 40.5 meters (133 ft) in Miyako in Tōhoku's Iwate Prefecture, and which, in the Sendai area, traveled at 700 km/h (435 mph) and up to 10 km (6 mi) inland. Residents of Sendai had only eight to ten minutes of warning, and more than a hundred evacuation sites were washed away. The snowfall which accompanied the tsunami and the freezing temperature hindered rescue works greatly, for instance, Ishinomaki, the city with most deaths, was 0°C (32°F) as the tsunami hit. The official figures released in 2021 reported 19,747 deaths, 6,242 injured, and 2,556 people missing, and a report from 2015 indicated 228,863 people were still living away from their home in either temporary housing or due to permanent relocation.The tsunami caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, primarily the meltdowns of three of its reactors, the discharge of radioactive water in Fukushima and the associated evacuation zones affecting hundreds of thousands of residents. Many electrical generators ran out of fuel. The loss of electrical power halted cooling systems, causing heat to build up.



An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor or temblor) is the shaking of the surface of the Earth resulting from a sudden release of energy in the Earth's lithosphere that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes can range in size from those that are so weak that they cannot be felt to those violent enough to propel objects and people into the air, and wreak destruction across entire cities. The seismicity, or seismic activity, of an area is the frequency, type, and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time. The word tremor is also used for non-earthquake seismic rumbling. At the Earth's surface, earthquakes manifest themselves by shaking and displacing or disrupting the ground. When the epicenter of a large earthquake is located offshore, the seabed may be displaced sufficiently to cause a tsunami. Earthquakes can also trigger landslides and, occasionally, volcanic activity. In its most general sense, the word earthquake is used to describe any seismic event—whether natural or caused by humans—that generates seismic waves. Earthquakes are caused mostly by rupture of geological faults but also by other events such as volcanic activity, landslides, mine blasts, and nuclear tests. An earthquake's point of initial rupture is called its hypocenter or focus.