Has studied astrology/historical seismology since the late '70s in San Francisco. Published in the ISAR International Astrologer in 2012.
Lisbon, Portugal - 8.7Mw
1 November 1755, 9:40am, local time (1016UT), epicenter: 36.5, -10.55
What wasn't destroyed by the 8.7 magnitude earthquake in the year 1755, which shook Lisbon, Portugal for a good 5 minutes, was almost entirely wiped out beginning 40 minutes later by an onslaught of tsunami waves, followed by a massive fire which raged for five days. Around 60,000 people lost their lives as a result. Perhaps the first 10,000 to die were those caught in collapsing houses of worship at 9:40am as they began their celebration of All Saint's Day.
After the most terrible earthquake, many people throughout Europe believed it to have been an act of God and they were so effected by the horrendous tragedy that they gave up sinful practices so as to be spared from suffering a similar fate in the future. It is estimated that the epicenter of this earthquake was located 193 kms (120 miles) out to sea. It is unclear how frequently earthquakes of such a size occur in that area, but hopefully Portugal will not suffer a repeat of this disaster for many more hundreds of years.
Calabria, Italy – 7.0Mw
5 February 1783, 1pm local time (1156UT), epicenter: 38.297, 15.97
Although it is estimated that the largest shocks were approximately 7.0Mw in magnitude, the effects seemed as though they resulted from a considerably larger earthquake. The last of five deadly shocks occurred on 28 March 1783 at about 6pm, local time, and was of similar size to the first. The end result for a 60 league area (207 miles or 333 kms): Of 375 towns or villages, only 55 escaped complete ruin. Of those few, only a small number of their buildings escaped collapse. In such villages as Polistena, in the middle of Calabria, everything was leveled and nearly all of the inhabitants perished.
Fissures opened in the earth over 100 feet wide and nearly a mile long (a separate report gives one at 500 feet in width and over 1,000 yards long). Great landslides transported whole mountain villages into valleys where they were crushed and buried. Many rivers changed course and, due to landslides, others were damned up and large lakes were formed.
The first temblor destroyed as many as 180 villages and took approximately 25,000 lives. Twelve hours after the first shock, there was a second one (estimated magnitude of 6.2) that, due to a severe collapse of Monte Paci into the sea near Scilla, created a 19 foot tall tsunami, sinking many boats in the straight of Messina and flooding nearby shores as much as 600 feet inland (1,500 people are estimated to have died from that event alone). The estimated number of casualties for all five events is thought to have been between 32,000 and 50,000, but due to disease and famine (indirect causes) the total may have reached 80,000.
Lima/Callao & Pisco/Ica, Peru – 8.0Mw & 8.5Mw
20 October 1687, 4:15am, LT (0915UT), epicenter: -12.2, -77.2,
2nd shock: 5:45am, local time (1045UT), epicenter: -13.23, -76.507
(one source gives times of 4am and 6am, another source gives that they were separated by an hour, and a third source gives the time of the second, more southerly, shock as 5:30am, local time).
The first of two shocks, one a magnitude 8.0, and the other an 8.5 magnitude giant of an earthquake. The first one leveled Lima and it never fully recovered its status as the leading city in South America; at least not for a very long time after that catastrophe. The second temblor, which hit between 5:30 and 6am, local time, south of the first great shock, created a massive tidal wave that totally destroyed the ports of Pisco, Callao, and Ica. Estimates of the death toll in Lima alone ranged from 400 to more than 600, with total lives lost reported from a minimum of 1,500 to as much as 5,000. Most of Lima's buildings and towers were destroyed, seventy churches among them. Three ships in port at Pisco were thrown inland, over the town, by the seismic waves of 30 feet in height. The tsunami also reached the shores of Japan.
Crete, Greece - >8.0Mw
8 August 1302 (OS or in the Julian calendar), 16 August 1302 (NS or in the Gregorian calendar) 5:15am, local time (0330UT), epicenter: 35.717, 25.797
This earthquake is believed to have been at least an 8.0 magnitude event. The tsunami that resulted reached a height of 9 meters (about 30 feet) and caused the loss of many lives in Crete (4,000 deaths), Alexandria, Egypt (10,000 deaths), Rhodes and Cypress (thousands more), and all of the Adriatic Sea. The tsunami is estimated to have reached Alexandria 40 minutes after the earthquake. It nearly leveled the great lighthouse there, brought down the city walls, and carried sailing vessels as far as two miles inland. The total number of deaths from this event is estimated to have been over 25,000.
Shimoda, Japan - 8.4Mw
23 December, 1854, about 9am, local time (0001UT), epicenter: 34, 137.9
On a cold December morning in the year 1854, an earthquake estimated to be 8.4 magnitude struck just off the coast of Japan (see the red marker near the center of the map above for location; map courtesy http://www.movable-type.co.uk/scripts/latlong.html and Google). The next day at 4pm, local time, another earthquake of about the same size struck 300 km (186 miles) WSW of the first epicenter. The second quake did more damage and caused more fatalities (about three times more), with the combined total of around 15,000 dead likely (my estimate) for both quakes. Most of the damage and deaths were caused by tsunami in both instances, with a total of about 50,000 buildings destroyed.
San Francisco, California, United States - 7.75Mw
18 April 1906, 5:12am, local time (1312UT), epicenter: 38.056, -122.403
One visitor to San Francisco didn't leave their heart there after parting. The famous tenor Enrico Caruso was in town to perform with the Metropolitan Opera Company and had gone to sleep contented at the Palace Hotel after a more than satisfactory performance of Carmen. However, the next morning at 5:12am, local time, he was jolted from his sleep by the disastrous earthquake of April 18, 1906. His bed was rocking as if he was on a stormy sea and when he looked out of his window he saw buildings toppling to the ground. He soon became full of dread and saw parts of his life flash by. Plaster began falling from the ceiling and he decided it was time to get dressed and quickly leave the premises.
He made his way to Union Square, found a place to lie down, and tried to remain calm. Not long after he began to see the flames engulfing the city. He decided that he had to get out of town as soon as possible but the soldiers would not let him pass. That evening he had to sleep on the hard ground. He eventually found someone with a cart who would take him, his valet, and his luggage to the Ferry. He was alarmed to see ruin all around him on the way, but safely made it to the ferry, crossed the bay to Oakland, and then boarded a train for New York.
He was relieved but he also firmly vowed that he would never return to San Francisco. He kept his word. Over 3,000 people died in that city that day. Around 80% of the buildings were destroyed and most of the inhabitants became homeless. The earthquake caused over eight billion dollars in damage (as measured today). The magnitude is now estimated to have been either 7.7 or 7.8 and the epicenter in Daly City, just southwest of the city border.
Kingston, Jamaica – 6.5M
14 January 1907, 3:30pm, local time (2036UT), epicenter: 18.2, -76.7
Following the 35 second long, 6.5 magnitude earthquake, at least 2 to 3% of the population of 48,000 died either directly, or from the fire that burned unchecked for 3 hours after. Estimates of the deaths range from 800 to 1400, with one report giving as many as 2,000 to 3,000 casualties. At least 9,000 people were left homeless. Every building in Kingston was damaged, with 85% of them destroyed.
Assam, India - 8.1Mw, 8.6Mw
12 June 1897, 5:15pm, local time (1105UT), epicenter: 25.5, 91
15 August 1950, 7:40pm, local time (1409UT), epicenter: 28.363, 96.445
Assam, India, had two massive earthquakes of 8.1 magnitude in the year 1897, and one of 8.6 magnitude in 1950. The second quake, about 600 km ENE of the first one (see map), did more damage, but they both had about the same number of casualties (just over 1,500; although the second quake may have caused at least another 1,500 deaths across the border in China). Both quakes did much more damage than one might expect for having a relatively low number of fatalities (compared to most of the other quakes given here). As these quakes relate to seismology, they are pretty unique. The first one had the greatest measured displacement of any earthquake on record and the second one is the largest known quake to have not been caused by an oceanic subduction.
Erzincan, Turkey - 7.8Mw
27 December 1939, 1:57am, local time (2357UT on 26 December), epicenter: 39.771, 39.577
On this date in 1939, a great earthquake of 7.8 magnitude struck Erzincan province in eastern Turkey. At least 36,740 people died, with about two thirds caused directly from the quake and the rest from exposure due to extreme weather conditions that followed. The destruction was so severe that Erzincan city moved north of its original location when it was rebuilt. This same general area was visited by three 7+ magnitude earthquakes during a several year period following this event. As a result of all of these occurrences, Turkey soon after adopted seismic building codes.
Valdivia, Chile - 9.55Mw
22 May 1960, 3:11pm, local time (1911UT), epicenter: -38.143, -73.407
Most of the damage from this mega quake occurred in Valdivia, but the epicenter was closest to Lumaco. Also known as the Great Chilean Earthquake, it measured either 9.5 or 9.6 magnitude in size and lasted for 10 minutes. Fortunately, since there were many exceptionally large pre-shocks, people were ready for a big quake. However, they certainly didn't expect it to be the largest earthquake ever recorded in modern times. Since this huge quake set off waves of tsunamis that effected not just southern Chile, but Hawaii and far away coasts along the Pacific Ocean, the death toll is a bit uncertain. The best estimate is probably somewhere between 3,000 and 6,000 lives lost. The total monetary cost was between 3 and 6 billion in today's dollars.
Anchorage, Alaska - 9.25Mw
27 March 1964, 5:36pm, local time (0336UT on 28 March), epicenter: 60.908, -147.339
The second largest earthquake ever recorded happened less than four years later on Good Friday. The magnitude 9.2 or 9.3 quake shook the ground for about 3 minutes and was responsible for at least 143 deaths. The epicenter was 126 kms (78 miles) east of Anchorage, Alaska. Large tsunamis were created with waves as high as 67 meters (220 feet). Like the Great Chile Earthquake, besides the tsunamis causing death and destruction locally, the effects of the Alaskan quake reached as far away as Japan but the damage and areas effected weren't as extensive as with the Chilean quake. Most of the deaths were in Alaska and mainly due to the tsunamis. Out of that total, there were 12 deaths in Crescent City, California also due to tsunami. There were widespread reports of vibrations from countries circling the earth that were related to this huge quake.
Near Casma, Peru (north coast) - 7.9Mw
31 May 1970, 4:23pm, local time (2023UT), epicenter: -9.183, -78.737
On this date, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake occurred 35 km off the coast of Casma and Chimbote, Peru (on the Pacific Ocean). This was the worst catastrophe to ever occur in Peru. The earthquake caused an avalanche that buried two towns and was responsible for most of the 25,000 missing people reported along with 75,000 known dead. Strangely, the author of a book published in 1960 predicted the event (giving the location and circumstances but not the date). The information was supposedly supplied to him by entities claiming to be extraterrestrial.
Managua, Nicaragua - 6.3Mw
23 December 1972, 12:29am, local time (0629UT), epicenter: 12.184, -86.223
The late mega-rich and talented genius Howard Hughes (who became an eccentric loner) lived in Las Vegas, Nevada. At least this was so in 1972. About 105 kms (65 miles) northwest of Vegas was the Nevada Proving Grounds, where our military detonated nuclear weapons underground on a regular basis. Howard Hughes did not like this fact and constantly fired off letters to officials in D.C. telling them they should discontinue the tests on American soil. It is my understanding that he was convinced that all of those underground explosions were bound to set off a large earthquake that could do substantial damage to Las Vegas. They were not listening to him and he was ticked.
On December 21, 1972, at high noon, they set off another particularly large yield explosion of 200 kilotons, buried about 689 meters (2,260 feet) below the surface. But Mr. Hughes probably was not in Las Vegas at the time. His birthday was in three days and he chose to be elsewhere for it. Ironically, he was in Managua, Nicaragua on December 23, 1972 when a 6.3 magnitude quake struck at 12:29am, local time (6:29am, GMT). Due to buildings constructed without consideration for earthquakes, many of them failed and over 5,000 people lost their lives (possibly as much as 11,000). Although Howard Hughes survived, I am pretty sure he didn't have a very happy birthday.
Chimaltenango, Guatemala - 7.5Mw
4 February, 1976, 3:02am, local time (0902UT), epicenter: 15.324, -89.138
About three years later, and 444 km (276 miles) northwest of the center of that last quake, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Guatemala occurred. The exact date and time was February 4, 1976 at just past 3am, local time, and it was responsible for 23,000 deaths. There probably would have been many less deaths if it had occurred during the day rather than when most people were asleep in bed.
El Asnam (Chlef), Algeria – 7.1Mw
10 October 1980, 1:25pm, local time (1225UT), epicenter: 36.2, 1.374
Initial reports gave an estimation of 20,000 dead from this earthquake. The actual number of casualties turned out to be more like 3,500 to 5,000. This was the largest earthquake in the area since a magnitude 7 earthquake caused 3,000 deaths on 9 October 1790 in Oran, Algeria (epicenter: 35.7, 0.7, at 0115UT). Both earthquakes relate strongly to solar system body aspect groups.
The town's main hospital, a large department store, and the central mosque were among the many buildings destroyed on that day. A 6.3 magnitude aftershock occurred 3 hours after the main shock and caused further damage and loss of life. Over one quarter of a million people were left homeless due to the earthquakes. El Asnam now goes by the name of Chlef.
Mexico City, Mexico – 8.0Mw
19 September 1985, 7:17am, local time (1317UT), epicenter (200+ miles or 322+ kms from Mexico City): 17.821, -101.621
This earthquake proved that Mexico City, being built on an old lake bed, was a tragedy waiting for a powerful earthquake to happen. Sitting in liquefaction prone sediment in the shape of a bowl, the seismic waves resonated and were magnified under the city's tall buildings from the distant source of the 8.0 (Mw) magnitude earthquake. Over 5,000 buildings were damaged, with 412 of those collapsing. Closer to the coastal epicenter, Ciudad, Guzman, Jalisco, had 60% of its buildings destroyed. The death toll in Mexico City alone was at least 9,500, with more than 30,000 injured and as much as one quarter of a million left homeless. Ten years after the earthquake, there were still tent cities for the homeless. Over thirty years later, Mexico City is much better prepared for the next big quake. Upon each anniversary, the people of the city remember the terrible earthquake of September 19th, but they also get ready for the next big one, to hopefully avert an even greater disaster. Mostly due to this tragedy, Mexico was ahead of the United States in getting an advanced earthquake warning system up and running.
Sissano Lagoon, Papua New Guinea - 7.0Mw
17 July 1998, 6:49pm, local time (0849UT), epicenter: -3.114, 142.438
On this date, an earthquake occurred along the north shore of Papua New Guinea. It measured 7.0, which is normally about 1/2 a magnitude too small to produce a dangerous tsunami. This quake however was an exception and 2,200 people died with 500 unaccounted for due to a tsunami that was as high as 59 feet.
Northwest coast of Sumatra - 9.05Mw
26 December 2004, 7:59am, local time (0059UT), epicenter: 3.331, 95.952
On this date, a megathrust earthquake measuring 9.0 or 9.1 in magnitude, occurred off the west coast of Sumatra, creating massive tsunamis of nearly 100 feet in height and killing over 230,000 people along most of the coastline of the Indian Ocean. Besides being one of the deadliest natural catastrophes on record, it is also the third largest recorded earthquake on record and it took at least 8m18s for the fault movement to complete. Strangely, this earthquake occurred just three days after an 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck not far from New Zealand. However, most seismologists likely feel that there was no causal connection between the two events. On the other hand, looking at it astrologically, both earthquakes were inside a seismic window (defined by planetary aspects) of 11 days in length.
Honshu, Japan (off east coast of) - 9.05Mw
11 March 2011, 2:46pm, local time (0546UT), epicenter: 38.285, 142.546
On this date, the largest known earthquake to strike Japan and the 5th most powerful ever recorded on the planet occurred, creating towering tsunamis (up to 41 meters or 133 feet in height). The massive 9.0 or 9.1 magnitude mega thrust earthquake, lasted 6 minutes and occurred 69 kms (43 miles) out to sea, east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tohoku. This earthquake caused at least 15,883 deaths with 2,654 people unaccounted for and presumed dead. It has been estimated by the World Bank that the total economic cost to Japan for this catastrophe was US$235 billion (the costliest natural disaster in history). This earthquake experienced a 7.2 magnitude foreshock two days prior. Both earthquakes were within seismic windows (defined by astrological aspects). This was also true for all of the earthquakes given in this hub (see accompanying graphs for corroboration).
© 2013 Joseph Ritrovato