What was the largest earthquake in history?

EARTHQUAKE occurs when there is movement within the earth’s crust or volcanic activity.

While some earthquakes are mild and cause little damage, others are catastrophic.

Remains of the port of Corral after the 1960 earthquake in Valdivia


Remains of the port of Corral after the 1960 earthquake in ValdiviaPhoto credit: Getty

What was the largest earthquake in history?

There are thousands of earthquakes each year, but some of the largest on record occurred in the 1950s and 2010s.

To date, the largest earthquake in history was the 1960 Valdivia earthquake, which lasted approximately 10 minutes.

With a magnitude of 9.5, an estimated 2,000,000 people were made homeless by the earthquake and the tsunamis that followed shortly thereafter.

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Four years later, the second largest earthquake in southern Alaska struck, measuring 9.2 magnitude.

How many people died in the 1960 Valdivia earthquake?

The cost of the damage was estimated at $550 million, according to National Geographic, which would be more than $4.8 billion today with inflation.

Around 3,000 people were injured in the event and around 1,655 people lost their lives.

The tsunamis also hit coastal communities in New Zealand, Japan, Hawaii and the Philippines.

In the coastal city of Hilo, 61 people died as a result of the tsunamis, National Geographic notes.

What causes an earthquake?

Earthquakes are caused by a sudden slip on a fault, which is a thin layer of gravel between the earth’s crust.

“The tectonic plates always move slowly but get stuck at their edges due to friction,” according to the United States Geological Survey.

“When the stress at the edge overcomes the friction, there is an earthquake, releasing energy in waves that travel through the earth’s crust and cause the tremors we feel.”

The 1960 Valdivia earthquake had a magnitude of 9.5


The 1960 Valdivia earthquake had a magnitude of 9.5Photo credit: AFP

If an earthquake occurs suddenly, it is recommended to drop to your hands and knees and immediately seek shelter to protect your head and neck.

It is also recommended to stay indoors as you are less likely to injure yourself there.

More information on earthquake safety can be found here. What was the largest earthquake in history?


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