LiveScience MENU Search

The 10 Biggest Earthquakes in History

  • Intro

    earthquakes-world-map-110412-02
    Intro
    CREDIT: USGS. Earthquakes World Map
    The locations of the world's largest-recorded earthquakes. These massive quakes outline the volatile Pacific Ring of Fire.
  • Assam-Tibet, 1950 - Magnitude 8.6

    tibet-110412-02
    10
    CREDIT: NASA Earth Observatory. Tibet
    One of the world's largest recorded quakes struck here, near the Himalayas.
  • Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, 2005 - Magnitude 8.6

    sunda-trench-110412-02
    9
    CREDIT: USGS. Sunda Trench
    The Sunda Trench unleased a massive quake near Indonesia.
  • Rat Islands, Alaska, 1965 - Magnitude 8.7

    alaska-clear-sky-image-110210-02
    8
    CREDIT: NASA Alaska Clear Sky Image
  • Off the Coast of Ecuador, 1906 - Magnitude 8.8

    ecuador-seismic-map-110412-02
    7
    CREDIT: USGS. Ecuador Seismic Map
    Ecuador is a shakey place, as this map shows. The 1906 quake struck just off-shore.
  • Offshore Maule, Chile, 2010 - Magnitude 8.8

    chile-quake-2010-110412-02
    6
    CREDIT: USGS. Chile Quake
  • Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia, 1952 - Magnitude 9.0

    kamchatka-volcanoes-nasa-101207-02
    5
    CREDIT: ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. Kamchatka Volcanoes Nasa
    Kamchatka Krai Russia, is home to one of the most active volcanic regions in the world.
  • Near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan, 2011 - Magnitude 9.0

    earthquake-magnitude-110407-02
    4
    Earthquake Magnitude
    earthquake magnitude comparison
  • Off the West Coast of Northern Sumatra, 2004 - Magnitude 9.1

    sumatra-2004-earthquake-110412-02
    3
    CREDIT: USGS. Sumatra Earthquake
  • Prince William Sound, Alaska, 1964 - Magnitude 9.2

    prince-william-sound-110412-02
    2
    CREDIT: USGS. Prince William Sound
    Devastation from the 1965 Prince William Sound earthquake.
  • Chile, 1960 - Magnitude 9.5

    1
    CREDIT: USGS. Chile Earthquake
    Wrecked houses in Valdivia, Chile.

As massive and deadly as Japan's recent magnitude 9.0 earthquake was, it's not the world's biggest recorded quake.

It is Japan's largest quake, but dating back to 1900, four other earthquakes of magnitude 9.0 or greater have ruptured across the globe, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). We countdown the top 10 biggest recorded earthquakes in the world.

Most Popular