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What was the Biggest Earthquake in History?

What was the Biggest Earthquake that ever was recorded in the history books?

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If asked what the biggest earthquake of all time is, off the top of our head it must be Japan’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake which hit off the coast of Tōhoku in 2011 causing giant tsunami. Everyone remember that. It killed thousands of people and left several thousand missing while others homeless. Checking the history, somehow it was close to the world’s biggest earthquake. However, it was known to be the most expensive when it comes to property damages. There is no question to that knowing Japan’s tiger economy affecting big businesses, huge infrastructures, and well-off residents.

The United States Geological Services (USGS) had recorded a striking 9.5 magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale - the Great Chilean Earthquake. It was way back in 1960 which happened near the cities of Valdivia and Puerto Montt, Chile. USGS gave an estimate of about 1,655 people killed and US $800 billion worth of property damage. The runner ups to the Great Chilean Earthquake were the 1964 Alaska Earthquake in Prince William Sound with magnitude 9.2, and the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake with magnitude 9.1.

Richter magnitude scale was developed by Charles Richter in 1930s. By that, it would be hard to compare the all-time high on record to the other mega destructive earthquakes known to man prior to its invention. The deadliest one in history was China’s Shaanxi Earthquake which happened in 1500s with a terrifying death toll of almost one million people. If Richter scale was already developed by then, who knows it may have changed history.

Today, we may not experience earthquake as big as that of Chile but fatal earthquakes could strike and surprise everyone anytime. A lot of major cities in the world are situated in the earthquake belts. Thus, any high magnitude ground shaking may cause unanticipated enormous property damage and death counts. This is true especially in the lack of earthquake preparedness plan for some states or regions.

What happens in a magnitude 10.0 earthquake is something seismologists themselves cannot envision. Again, it may have happened before but was just not recorded. It was calculated that the energy applied in a 10.0 magnitude is equivalent to a teraton. This unit of energy is kind of hard to picture. Now, a 12.0 magnitude is tantamount to daily energy the Sun gives out to our planet. Picture that!

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