Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions
Updated September 9, 2022 | Infoplease Staff
Here is information on significant earthquakes and volcanic eruptions going back as early as
- A.D. 79
- Aug. 24, Italy: eruption of Mt. Vesuvius buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, killing thousands.
- Dec. 22, Damghan, Iran: earthquake killed 200,000.
- March 23, Ardabil, Iran: earthquake killed about 150,000 people.
- Aug. 9, Aleppo, Syria: deadly earthquake claimed lives of 230,000 people.
- Sept., Chihli, China: earthquake killed about 100,000 people.
- Jan. 23, Shaanxi (Shensi) province, China: most deadly earthquake in history; 830,000 killed.
- Nov., Shemakha, Caucasia: earthquake killed about 80,000 people.
- Jan. 11, Sicily, Italy: earthquake killed about 60,000 people.
- Oct. 28, Japan: tsunami caused by an earthquake drowned 30,000.
- Nov. 18, Tabriz, Iran: about 77,000 victims killed in deadly earthquake.
- Nov. 1, Portugal: earthquake, fires, and Atlantic tsunami leveled Lisbon and was felt as far away as southern France and North Africa; 70,000 killed.
- South Sea, China: tsunami killed 40,000.
- Feb. 4, Calabria, Italy: series of 6 earthquakes over two-month period caused massive destruction, killing 50,000. One of first scientifically investigated earthquakes.
- June 8, Iceland: eruption of Laki volcano lasted until Feb. 1784. Haze from eruption resulted in loss of island's livestock and widespread crop failure; 9,350 deaths, mostly due to starvation.
- May 21, Kyushu Island, Japan: collapse of old lava dome during eruption of Unzen volcano caused avalanche and tsunami that killed an estimated 14,300 people. (Most were killed by the tsunami.) Japan's greatest volcano disaster.
- Dec. 16, Mississippi Valley, nr. New Madrid, Mo.: earthquake reversed the course of the Mississippi River. Fatalities unknown due to sparse population in area. Aftershocks and tremors continued into 1812. It has been estimated that three of the series of earthquakes had surface-wave magnitudes of 8.6, 8.4, and 8.8 on the Richter scale. It is the largest series of earthquakes known to have occurred in North America.
- April 5, 10-11, Netherlands Indies (Sumbawa, Indonesia): eruption of Tambora largest in historic times. An estimated 92,000 people were killed, about 10,000 directly as a result of explosions and ash fall and about 82,000 indirectly by starvation and disease.
- June 26, north-central Ecuador: eruption of Mt. Cotopaxi caused severe mudflows that wiped out surrounding cities and valleys; 1,000 deaths.
- Aug. 26-28, Netherlands Indies (Krakatau, Indonesia): eruption of Krakatau; violent explosions destroyed two-thirds of island and caused a tsunami on Java and Sumatra, killing more than 36,000. It was felt as far away as Cape Horn and possibly England.
- Aug. 31, Charleston, S.C.: magnitude 7.3 quake, killed 60 people and caused extensive damage.
- June 15, Sanriku, Japan: earthquake and tidal wave killed 27,000.
- May 7, St. Vincent, West Indies: Soufrií¨re volcano erupted, devastating one-third of the island and killing some 1,680 people.
- May 8, Martinique, West Indies: Mt. Pelée erupted and wiped out city of St. Pierre; 40,000 dead.
- April 18, San Francisco: earthquake accompanied by fire razed more than 4 sq mi; estimates range from 700 to 3,000 dead or missing.For more, see The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
- Dec. 28, Messina, Sicily: city totally destroyed by earthquake. Estimated death toll, from quake and tsunami, 70,000-100,000 in Sicily and southern Italy.
- Jan. 13, Avezzano, Italy: magnitude 7.5 earthquake left 29,980 dead.
- Dec. 16, Gansu province, China: magnitude 7.8 earthquake killed 200,000 in northwest China.
- Sept. 1, Japan: magnitude 7.9 earthquake destroyed one-third of Tokyo and most of Yokohama. More than 140,000 killed.
- May 22, nr. Xining, China: magnitude 7.9 earthquake claimed approximately 200,000 victims.
- Dec. 25, Gansu, China: magnitude 7.6 earthquake killed approximately 70,000.
- March 10, Long Beach, Calif.: 117 left dead by earthquake.
- May 30, Pakistan: earthquake at Quetta killed 30,000-60,000.
- Jan. 24, Chile: earthquake razed 50,000 sq mi; about 30,000 killed.
- Dec. 27, northern Turkey: severe quakes destroyed city of Erzingan; about 30,000 casualties.
- Oct. 5, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan: magnitude 7.3 earthquake destroyed the city, killing 110,000.
- Aug. 15, India: earthquake affected 30,000 sq mi in Assam; 1500 killed.
- Feb. 29, Agadir, Morocco: 10,000-12,000 dead as earthquake set off tidal wave and fire, destroying most of city.
- May 22, Chile: strongest earthquake ever recorded (9.5 magnitude) struck near the coast, causing a tsunami that traveled as far as Hawaii, Japan, and New Zealand, killing 4,000-5,000.
- March 28, Alaska (03:36:14 UT; March 27, 5:36 P.M. local time): strongest earthquake ever to strike North America (9.2 magnitude) hit 80 mi east of Anchorage; followed by seismic wave (tsunami) 50 ft high that traveled 8,445 mi at 450 mph; 117 killed..
- Jan. 5, Yunnan province, China: magnitude 7.5 quake killed more than 10,000.
- May 31, Peru: magnitude 7.9 earthquake left more than 66,000 dead.
- Dec. 22, Managua, Nicaragua: earthquake devastated city, leaving up to 6,000 dead.
- Feb. 4, Guatemala: quake left over 23,000 dead.
- July 28, Tangshan, China: worst earthquake to hit China in 20th century; devastated 20 sq mi of city, leaving 255,000 (official) dead. Estimated toll as high as 655,000.
- Aug. 17, Mindanao, Philippines: earthquake and tidal wave left up to 8,000 dead or missing.
- Sept. 16, Tabas, Iran: earthquake destroyed city in eastern Iran, leaving 15,000 dead.
- May 18, Mount Saint Helens, Washington: one of the largest volcanic explosions in North American history killed 65 people and a significant portion of the elk, deer, bear, and coyote populations, and destroyed 230 sq mi of land and forest.
- Sept. 19-20, Mexico: magnitude 8.0 earthquake devastated part of Mexico City and three coastal states; estimated 25,000 killed (9,500 official).
- Nov. 14-16, Colombia: eruption of Nevada del Ruiz, 85 mi northwest of Bogotá. Mudslides buried most of the town of Armero and devastated Chinchiná; 21,800 killed.
- Dec. 7, Armenia: earthquake measuring 6.8 in magnitude killed nearly 25,000, injured 15,000, and left at least 400,000 homeless.
- Oct. 17, San Francisco Bay area: earthquake measuring 7.1 in magnitude killed 67 and injured over 3,000. Over 100,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.
- June 21, northwest Iran: magnitude 7.7 earthquake destroyed cities and villages in Caspian Sea area. At least 50,000 dead, over 60,000 injured, and 400,000 homeless.
- July 16, northern Philippines: magnitude 7.7 quake killed nearly 2,000.
- July 15, Luzon Island, Philippines: eruption of Mt. Pinatubo buried over 300 sq mi under volcanic ash and resulted in more than 800 deaths.
- Aug. 8, Guam: earthquake measuring 8.1 in magnitude caused severe damage to many structures but no fatalities.
- Sept. 29, India: earthquake measuring 6.2 killed 9,748 and destroyed nearly all the buildings in Khillari.
- Jan. 17, San Fernando Valley, Calif.: earthquake, 6.6 in magnitude, killed 61 and injured over 8,000. Damage estimated at $13-20 billion.
- Jan. 17, Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, Japan: 5,500 killed and 36,800 injured. Magnitude: 6.9.
- May 12, northeast Iran: severe earthquake measuring 7.3 in magnitude left more than 1,500 people dead and at least 4,460 injured.
- June-Sept., southern Montserrat: ongoing eruption of Soufrií¨re Hills volcano since July 1995; killed 20 people in major eruption on June 25, 1997, rendered southern two-thirds of Montserrat uninhabitable, and forced some 8,000 of the island's 12,000 residents to abandon the island.
- May 30, northern Afghanistan: magnitude 6.9 earthquake and aftershocks killed at least 4,000. A quake on Feb. 4 in same area killed about 2,300.
- July 17, Papua New Guinea: three tsunamis, possibly spurred by an undersea landslide following an earthquake, wiped out entire villages in the northwest province of Sepik. At least 2,100 killed.
- Jan. 25, Armenia, Colombia: 1,185 dead and more than 4,000 injured in magnitude 6.2 earthquake. Over 200,000 left homeless.
- Aug. 17, northwest Turkey: magnitude 7.6 quake centered near Izmit killed over 17,000 and injured about 44,000. Damage estimated at $8.5 billion. Another severe 7.2 temblor killed more than 700 in Ducze and nearby towns in Nov.
- Sept. 21, central Taiwan: severe 7.7 earthquake and aftershocks killed 2,295 and injured 8,729.
- Jan. 13, El Salvador: magnitude 7.7 earthquake set off some 185 landslides across El Salvador; at least 850 died and nearly 100,000 houses were destroyed.
- Jan. 26, Bhuj, India: magnitude 7.7 earthquake rocked western Indian state of Gujarat, killing more than 20,000 people and leaving 600,000 homeless.
- March 25, northeast Afghanistan: series of earthquakes-the largest measuring 6.1 in magnitude-rattled an area 100 mi north of Kabul. Estimated 1,000 people killed. The city of Nahrin, a densely populated district capital, was completely razed.
- May 21, Northern Algeria: magnitude 6.8 earthquake killed 2,266 people. The epicenter was 40 mi east of Algiers, the capital city.
- Dec. 26, Bam, Iran: magnitude 6.6 earthquake devastated the ancient historic city of Bam in southeast Iran, killing 26,200 people, injured 30,000, and left 75,000 homeless, as mud-brick buildings collapsed.
- Dec. 26, Sumatra, Indonesia: magnitude 9.0 earthquake, off the west coast of Sumatra, caused a tremendously powerful tsunami in the Indian Ocean that hit 12 Asian countries, killing more than 225,000 and leaving millions homeless. It was the deadliest tsunami in history.
- Feb. 22, Zarand, Iran: magnitude 6.4 earthquake in central Iran shook more than 40 villages, killing at least 612 people, injuring over 1,400, and destroying villages with many mud-brick houses.
- March 28, Sumatra, Indonesia: magnitude 8.7 earthquake, off the west coast of Sumatra, killed 1,313. Many buildings in the islands of Nias and Simeulue were destroyed and some officials feared another tsunami would occur. The same area was at the center of a huge tsunami in December that killed over 225,000 people. Officials at the U.S. Geological Survey said that yesterday's earthquake was an aftershock of December's 9.0 quake. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake was twice the power of the 8.7 magnitude quake.
- Oct. 8, Pakistan: magnitude 7.6 earthquake centered in the Pakistani-controlled part of the Kashmir region killed more than 80,000 and injured 65,000. About half of the regionâÂÂs capital city, Muzaffarabad, has been destroyed, other towns and villages were flattened, and the extreme mountainous terrain and bad weather made many areas unreachable for weeks after the quake. An estimated 4 million were left homeless with winter on the way and insufficient resources to provide shelter.
- May 26, Java, Indonesia: (May 27 at 5:54 AM local time in Java, Indonesia). 6.3 magnitude earthquake killed 5,749 people and destroyed 127,000 homes. This area had also been under an intense volcano watch due to the ongoing eruption of the volcano Merapi
- July 17, Java, Indonesia: an earthquake triggered a tsunami, killing 730.
- March 6, Sumatra, Indonesia: Two earthquakes, magnitudes 6.4 and 6.3, killed at least 70 people in western Sumatra. Several hundred were injured, and more than 1,000 buildings collapsed.
April 1, Honiara, Solomon Islands: (April 2 at 7:39 AM local time in Honiara, Solomon Islands). Magnitude 8.1 earthquake and ensuing tsunami left at least 34 dead and thousands homeless. The Solomon Islands are located in a part of the Pacific referred to as the "Ring of Fire" due to the frequency of volcanic activity and earthquakes in the region.
- July 16, Niigata, Japan: A 6.8 magnitude earthquake left at least 11 dead and injured more than 900. The tremor caused skyscrapers in Tokyo to sway for almost a minute, and buckled roads and bridges. Earthquake damage was also (belatedly) reported at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, which was eventually shut down until its safety could be confirmed.
- Aug. 15, coast of central Peru: At least 337 are reported dead after a 8.0-magnitude earthquake strikes coastal cities near Lima, Peru.
- Sept. 12 and 13, Sumatra, Indonesia: More than a dozen people die on the island of Sumatra when three quakes, one with a magnitude of 8.4, hit.
- Nov. 14, South America: Earthquake with 7.7 magnitude kills at least two people and injures morethan 150 in parts of Chile, Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina.
- April 6: Italy An earthquake of magnitude 6.3 strikes central Italy, killing at least 92 people and leaving 40,000 to 50,000 people homeless. The town of L'Aquila is the epicenter of the earthquake, but as many as 26 towns are reportedly affected. (Apr. 7): The death toll of the earthquake has rises to 235 with many still missing, said Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. The number of people left homeless has been reduced to 17,000. Rescuers are still working to pull bodies from the debris.
- Sept 2, Indonesia: About 60 people die when a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hits the island of Java, which is the most populous area of the country.
- Sept. 29, Samoa: An underwater 8.0-magnitude earthquake causes a tsunami in Samoa and American Samoa that kills more than 115 people.
- Sept. 30, Indonesia: A 7.6-magnitude earthquake hits the island of Sumatra, leaving more than 700 people dead and thousands trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings in the city of Padang.
- Jan. 12, Haiti: The beleaguered country of Haiti is dealt a catastrophic blow when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake strikes 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, the country's capital. It is the region's worst earthquake in 200 years. The quake levels many sections of the city, destroying government buildings, foreign aid offices, and countless slums. (Jan. 13): Assessing the scope of the devastation, Prime Minister Préval says, "Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed." He calls the death toll "unimaginable," and expects fatalities to near 100,000. The United Nations mission in Haiti is destroyed, 16 members of the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti are killed, and hundreds of UN employees are missing. (Jan. 14): International aid begins pouring in, and the scope of the damage caused by the quake highlights the urgent need to improve Haiti's crumbling infrastructure and lift it out of endemic poverty-the country is the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. (Jan. 19): Though the dead are going uncounted and unidentified in Haiti while authorities attempt to bury those killed during the earthquake and its aftermath, experts estimate a staggering death toll of 200,000 people.
- Feb. 27, Chile: An 8.8 magnitude earthquake rocks Chile. Fatalities are relatively low, with some 750 people killed in the devastation. However, as many as 1.5 million people are displaced. The country, long known to be at high risk for earthquakes, has enforced strict building codes in urban areas, which helped to limit the amount of damage in these areas. But buildings and homes in poorer areas-many built with adobe-did not fare as well. Chile's electricity grids, communication, and transportation systems are badly damaged, severely hampering rescue and aid efforts. The epicenter of the quake was 70 miles northeast of Concepcion in central Chile. Massive waves continue to cause additional damage along the coast.
- April 4, Mexico and Calif.: A 7.2 earthquake, centered in Mexico but felt for miles, shakes California and kills two. It is the strongest earthquake the state has experienced in 20 years. Though businesses and homes are reported damaged in cities and rural towns, because the epicenter was located in a remote area, most buildings remain standing.
- April 14, China: A 7.1-magnitude earthquake strikes China's Qinghai Province, killing at least 400 people and injuring another 10,000. Many buildings and homes have collapsed, though since the area is less densely populated than the Sichuan Province, where the devastating 2008 earthquake occurred, the death toll and overall damage is expected to be lower.
- April 14, Iceland:An explosion in the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland-which had erupted in late March and produced minimal seismic activity-resulted in a volcanic ash plume in the atmosphere over northern and central Europe. Air travel in the region was halted for several days, causing the cancellation of several thousand flights and disrupting the travel plans of millions of people. (Apr. 21): After millions of travelers have been stranded for days in Europe and North America, airports around the world begin operation again.
- Feb. 22, New Zealand:A 6.3-magnitude earthquake hits Christchurch, New Zealand, killing at least 75 people. The U.S. Geological Survey reports the earthquake is part of an aftershock sequence from a 7.1 earthquake that hit the same area last Sept.
- March 7, Hawaii:The Kilauea Volcano, thought to be one of the most active in the world, erupts, spewing lava through new cracks. The eruption causes more than 150 detectable earthquakes in the area, but no damage is reported.
- March 11, Japan:Japan is hit by an enormous earthquake that triggers a deadly 23-foot tsunami in the country's north. The earthquake, Japan's largest ever, hit about 230 miles northeast of Tokyo. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issues warnings for Russia, Taiwan, Hawaii, Indonesia, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and the west coasts the U.S., Mexico, Central America, and South America. Cooling systems in one of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station fail shortly after the earthquake, causing a nuclear crisis.
- March 24, Myanmar:A powerful earthquake strikes northeastern Myanmar, toppling homes and killing more than 70 people. Tremors from the earthquake are felt hundreds of miles away, in cities as far away as Bangkok and Hanoi.
- Oct. 23, Turkey:An earthquake, measured at 7.2 in magnitude, strikes Turkey in Van Province, near the border of Iran. The death toll quickly rises to more than 360 and is expected to climb higher. Rescue teams work to find survivors in more than 2,260 buildings that collapsed from the earthquake. More than 1,300 are injured. Over 50 countries offer aid, including Israel, despite of strained relations between the two countries.
- May 20, Italy:A 6.0 magnitude earthquake hits the northern region of Emilia Romagna, killing at least five people. Dozens more are injured and many historic buildings are damaged. At least 3,000 people are left homeless. A 5.1 magnitude aftershock causes further damage to the region.
- April 20, China: A strong earthquake strikes southwestern China. At least 186 people are killed and around 8,200 people are injured. The earthquake causes mountainsides to collapse. Available drinking water becomes a problem following the earthquake. Reports conflict on the magnitude of the earthquake. China's Earthquake Networks Center reports that the earthquake was a 7.0 magnitude, while the U.S. Geological Survey puts it at 6.6.
- Sept. 23, Pakistan: A 7.7 magnitude earthquake hits Baluchistan, an area of deserts and mountains in Pakistan. The earthquake causes hundreds of mud houses to collapse on residents. At least 327 people are killed. The earthquake is the worst in the country since 2005 and is felt throughout South Asia. Hundreds of soldiers from Pakistan's army are airlifted to help in the rescue effort. The earthquake hits Pakistan while the country is still in mourning over the deaths of more than 80 Christians in the suicide bombing of the All Saints Church in Peshawar.
- Oct. 15, Philippines: A powerful earthquake hits the Philippines and kills at least 144 people. Nearly 300 more are injured. The quake also destroys one of the country's oldest churches and causes widespread damage. According to Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, the center of the earthquake hits near Carmen, a small town on Bohol Island. Solidum also explains the intensity of the earthquake in a statement, "A magnitude 7 earthquake has an energy equivalent to around 32 Hiroshima atomic bombs. This one had a magnitude of 7.2." Tremors from the earthquake reach all of the islands in the central Philippines, destroying several buildings, roads and bridges.
- Aug. 3, China: A 6.1 magnitude earthquake hits Ludian County, Yunnan, China. At least 617 people are killed and 2,400 others are injured. More than 12,000 houses are destroyed, while another 30,000 are damaged.
- Feb. 20, western Aceh province, Indonesia: Earthquake with 7.5 magnitude kills three people and injures at least 25 more in near the western Aceh province of Indonesia.
- May 12, China: over 67,000 people die and hundreds of thousands more are injured when a 7.9 magnitude earthquake strikes Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan Provinces in western China. Nearly 900 students were trapped when Juyuan Middle School in the Sichuan Province collapsed from the quake.
- July 24, Japan: at least 90 people are injured and thousands of homes lose power when a 6.8 magnitude earthquake strikes 67 miles below the earth's surface in the region of Iwate.
- Oct. 6, Kyrgyzstan: at least 70 people die, hundreds more are injured, and hundreds of homes are leveled when a 6.6 magnitude earthquake strikes the Osh region.
- Oct. 29, Pakistan: a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hits southwestern Pakistan, killing at least 170 people and destroying over 15,000 homes.
- Nov. 17, Indonesia: a 7.5 magnitude earthquake hits several miles off the coast of Indonesia, killing four people, injuring at least 60 more, and destroying thousands of homes.
- April 25, Nepal: A magnitude-7.8 earthquake strikes central Nepal, near the capital, Katmandu, killing nearly 4,000 people, injuring tens of thousands, and damaging or destroying thousands of structures, including the treasured Dharahara Tower and the temple complex Bhaktapur Durbar Square. It causes avalanches on Mt. Everest, which kills at least 17 people. The earthquake is felt throughout the country and affects others in Asia. Continuous aftershocks complicate rescue efforts and further traumatize a nation stunned by catastrophic loss. Nepal's rugged, mountainous terrain makes the search for survivors and attempts to deliver food and medical supplies to affected areas perilous endeavors. Seismologists have predicted an earthquake would hit Nepal, but the country was ill-prepared for a disaster of this scale.
- May 12, Nepal: Another magnitude-7.8 earthquake hits Nepal just three weeks after the first one. At least 40 people are killed and well over 1,000 injured in the magnitude-7.8 earthquake, whose epicenter is about 50 miles east of Kathmandu.
For more earthquakes and volcanic eruptions see, 2007 Disasters , Major Earthquakes Around the World, and Recent Volcanic Activity. See also, Tsunami Factfile.
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