Top 10 Major Earthquakes Since 1990

This post introduces the compilation of the biggest and major earthquakes, infamous for natural disaster.
The Richter scale (a logarithmic scale that works based on the amount of energy released by the impact) is used to determine the severity of an earthquake.

Always, an earthquake with a magnitude of 3 on this scale is almost palpable. The Richter scale with magnitude 5 indicates a strong earthquake that is responsible to cause moderate to considerable damage. An earthquake with a magnitude of 7 or higher is definitely strong to very massive earthquake, generally, causing a large-scale disaster.
Here is the top ten biggest earthquakes measured since 1990.


10) Earthquake Of 1950: Assam, India and Tibet, China – 8.6 On The Richter Scale

The Assam – Tibet earthquake is called the Assam earthquake or also Medog earthquake. The shock took place on August 15, 1950 and showed a magnitude of 8.6 Mw.
The epicenter of the shaking was examined from Rima to Tibet. That leads a great damage in Tibet and Assam, which in turn, caused the death of 1,526 people in total.

The Assam – Tibet earthquake is the largest known earthquake was not caused by a so-called “mega-thrust” or an oceanic subduction (the process whereby an oceanic plate slides under another oceanic or continental) plate. Instead, it was a case of the divergence of two continental tectonic plates.


9) 1946: Aleutian Islands, Alaska, USA – 8.6 On The Richter Scale

The earthquake in the Aleutian Islands took place on 1 April 1946. It was immediately followed by a tsunami in the Pacific Ocean.

The quake had a magnitude of 8.6 Mw and a depth of 25 kilometers. It killed 165 people (159 in Hawaii and six in Alaska) and made 26 million dollar loss.

The tsunami exhibited various destructive waves with a height of about 15 to 40 meters.
Including the lighthouse ‘Scotch Cap’ on Unimak Island, tsunami was responsible for massive destruction. Because the tsunami was unusually strong in comparison with the magnitude of the earthquake, the earthquake in the Aleutian classified as a tsunami earthquake. For the determination of natural disaster with future alerts, the Seismic Sea Wave Warning System was created, which in 1949 became the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.


8) 1965: Rat Islands, Alaska, USA – 8.7 On The Richter Scale

On February 4, 1965 the Aleutian trembled again, this time the Rat Islands was the epicenter. The quake had a magnitude of 8.7 Mw and caused a tsunami more than ten meters high that swept on Shemya Island – fortunately without serious consequences.

The development of the tsunami suggests that the earthquake essentially consisted of three ‘blockades’ in the shifting tectonic plates. Two months later, the quake was also followed by a second major earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 Mw. The quake was caused by the “push back” of the tectonic plates that was determined in the Rat Islands.


7) 2010: Bio-Bio, Chile – 8.8 on the Richter scale

Although, Chile earthquake is still fresh in our memory. It took place on February 27, 2010 and had a magnitude of 8.8 Mw.

Intense tremors lasted for three minutes and were felt in six Chilean regions (Valparaiso in the north to the Araucania in the south). That means, the earthquake exceeded about 80% of the population of Chile. In addition, 525 people died and 9% of the affected population lost his home. The quake also caused a tsunami that devastated several coastal towns in south-central Chile and also abroad in 53 countries.

Insurers revealed that the quake of Bio-Bio demoted the Chilean economy with an estimated loss of between fifteen and thirty billion dollars.


6) 1906: Ecuador, Columbia – 8.8 on the Richter scale

Measured in the January 31, 1906, this earthquake had a magnitude of 8.8 Mw and caused a destructive tsunami that was noticed by at least 500 victims along the coasts of Columbia. The epicenter was just off the coast of Ecuador, near Esmeraldas.

The concussion occurred along the boundaries of tectonic plates Nazca and South America. Presumably it was caused by the subduction of the Nazca plate beneath the South American plate. The region has a history of tremors motivated by these plates.


5) 2011: Pacific Region Tohoku, Japan – 9 on the Richter scale

The Tohoku earthquake was given the nickname of “Great East Japan Earthquake. It took place on Friday, March 11th, 2011 and had a magnitude of 9.0 Mw. The epicenter was situated at about seventy kilometers east of the Oshika Peninsula.

The hypocenter was located about thirty kilometers below sea level. The Tohoku earthquake was the largest earthquake ever in the Japanese region since the beginning of modern measurements in 1900. It was responsible for a tsunami with waves up to 40.5 meters high, estimating the damage were between 14.5 and 34.6 billion dollars.

In the region near the epicenter, there were as many as four nuclear power plants: Onagawa, Tokai Fukushima-I (Dai-ichi) and Fukushima II. Through a series of accidents in the central Fukushima-I, leads to the considerable amount of releasing the radioactive material and was stated as the nuclear state of emergency. The tsunami destroyed the emergency power supply, thereby cooling the entire nuclear reactor system. In three reactors, the meltdown of the reactor cores took place. More than 200,000 people were evacuated.


4) 1952: Kamchatka, Russia – 9 on the Richter scale

The Kamchatka earthquake of November 4, 1952 was one of three earthquakes that have so far took place on the shores of the eastern Russian peninsula of Kamchatka.
Dating back from 1737 and 1923, each disaster was a result of so-called “mega-thrust” every time with a tsunami as a result.
Mega thrusts are the worst kind of quakes, where one tectonic plate comes under another. The shock of Kamchatka had a magnitude of 9.0Mw.


3) 2004: Indian Ocean, Sumatra, Indonesia – 9.1 on the Richter scale

This earthquake also was an undersea mega thrust. It took place on Sunday, December 26 2004 and had an epicenter near the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, where the series of tsunamis occurred.

It is also known as the Christmas tsunami or the Boxing Day Tsunami (tsunami of Boxing Day). Sumatra quake was caused by the subduction of the Indian plate with the Burmese nature ground plate. The disaster took away the lives of more than 230,000 people in fourteen countries. So it was one of the deadliest disasters in the history of mankind. The concussion also holds the record for the longest duration: between 8.3 and 10 minutes. The Sumatra quake had a magnitude between 9.1 and 9.3 Mw.


2) 1964: Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA – 9.2 on the Richter scale

On Good Friday, March 27 1964, the Great Alaskan earthquake occurred. With a magnitude of 9.2 Mw, a period of almost three minutes and the result – 139 died, till day, it was recorded as the most powerful earthquake in the history of the US and North America.

One of the consequences, a tsunami of 8.2 meters high, destroyed the village of Chenega and 23 of its 68 residents. The Portage earthquake – as concussion also called – was a “mega-thrust”. It was caused by the subduction of the oceanic plate under a continental plate.


1) 1960: Valdivia, Chile – 9.5 on the Richter scale

The biggest earthquake in the history ever, is so called the shock of Sunday, May 22 1960. It was recorded with the magnitude of 9.5 Mw on the richer scale. Followed by a Tsunami, the damages were occurred in Chile, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, and the Aleutian Islands.

The epicenter was near Lumaco, south of Santiago. However, the city of Valdivia was the most despised one, who gave this name to this natural disaster. Because the scale of this earthquake was so great, the death toll from the disaster remains uncertain till now. Figures of killed people vary from 2,231 to 60000. The monetary loss was estimated between 2.9 and 5.8 billion (restated) Dollars.

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