The following is a list of notable earthquakes and/or tsunamis which had their epicenter in areas that are now part of the United States with the latter affecting areas of the United States. Those in italics were not part of the United States when the event occurred.
An earthquake is the shaking of the surface of the Earth resulting from a sudden release of energy in the Earth's lithosphere that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes can range in size from those that are so weak that they cannot be felt to those violent enough to toss people around and destroy whole cities. The seismicity, or seismic activity, of an area is the frequency, type, and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time. The word tremor is also used for non-earthquake seismic rumbling.
A tsunami or tidal wave is a series of waves in a water body caused by the displacement of a large volume of water, generally in an ocean or a large lake. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions above or below water all have the potential to generate a tsunami. Unlike normal ocean waves, which are generated by wind, or tides, which are generated by the gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun, a tsunami is generated by the displacement of water.
The epicenter, epicentre or epicentrum in seismology is the point on the Earth's surface directly above a hypocenter or focus, the point where an earthquake or an underground explosion originates.
|January 26, 1700||Washington, Oregon, California||8.7–9.2||Unknown||1700 Cascadia earthquake|
|November 18, 1755||Massachusetts||5.9||0||1755 Cape Ann earthquake|
|December 16, 1811||Missouri||7.5–8.0||100−500||1811–1812 New Madrid earthquakes|
|December 8, 1812||California||6.9–7.5||40+||1812 San Juan Capistrano earthquake|
|January 9, 1857||California||7.9||2||1857 Fort Tejon earthquake|
|April 24, 1867||Kansas||5.1||0||1867 Manhattan, Kansas earthquake|
|April 2, 1868||Hawaii||7.9||77||1868 Hawaii earthquake and tsunami|
|October 21, 1868||California||6.3–6.7||30||1868 Hayward earthquake|
|December 14, 1872||Washington||6.5–7.0||0||1872 North Cascades earthquake|
|March 26, 1872||California||7.4–7.9||27||1872 Lone Pine earthquake|
|August 10, 1884||New York||4.9–5.5||2||1884 Coney Island earthquake|
|August 31, 1886||South Carolina||6.9–7.3||60||1886 Charleston earthquake|
|October 9, 1900||Alaska||7.9||0||1900 Alaska earthquake|
|April 18, 1906||California||7.9||3,000+||1906 San Francisco earthquake|
|September 27, 1909||Indiana||5.1||0||1909 Wabash River earthquake|
|October 3, 1915||Nevada||7.1||0||1915 Pleasant Valley earthquake|
|June 29, 1925||California||6.8||13||1925 Santa Barbara earthquake|
|October 24, 1927||Alaska||7.3||0||1927 Southeastern Alaska earthquake|
|March 7, 1929||Alaska||7.8||0||1929 Aleutian Islands earthquake|
|August 16, 1931||Texas||5.8||0||1931 Valentine earthquake|
|March 10, 1933||California||6.4||120||1933 Long Beach earthquake|
|October 18, 1935||Montana||6.2||4||1935 Helena earthquake|
|July 15, 1936||Oregon, Washington||5.8||0||1936 State Line earthquake|
|November 10, 1938||Alaska||8.2||0||1938 Alaska Peninsula earthquake|
|May 18, 1940||California||6.9||9||1940 El Centro earthquake|
|December 20, 1940||New Hampshire||5.3||0||1940 New Hampshire earthquakes|
|December 24, 1940||New Hampshire||5.5||0||1940 New Hampshire earthquakes|
|November 3, 1943||Alaska||7.6||0||1943 Southern Alaska earthquake|
|April 1, 1946||Alaska||8.6||165||1946 Aleutian Islands earthquake and tsunami|
|December 4, 1948||California||6.3||0||1948 Desert Hot Springs earthquake|
|April 13, 1949||Washington||6.7||8||1949 Olympia earthquake|
|July 21, 1952||California||7.3||14||1952 Kern County earthquake|
|March 9, 1957||Alaska||8.6||0||1957 Andreanof Islands earthquake and tsunami|
|July 9, 1958||Alaska||7.8||5 (tsunami)||1958 Lituya Bay earthquakes and megatsunami|
|August 17, 1959||Montana, Wyoming, Idaho||7.3–7.5||28+||1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake|
|March 27, 1964||Alaska||9.2||143||1964 Alaska earthquake and tsunami|
|February 4, 1965||Alaska||8.7||0||1965 Rat Islands earthquake and tsunami|
|April 29, 1965||Washington||6.7||7||1965 Puget Sound earthquake|
|July 2, 1965||Alaska||7.8||0||1965 Fox Islands earthquake|
|August 9, 1967||Colorado||5.3||0||Rocky Mountain Arsenal#Deep injection well|
|November 26, 1967||Colorado||5.2||0||Rocky Mountain Arsenal#Deep injection well|
|November 9, 1968||Illinois||5.4||0||1968 Illinois earthquake|
|October 2, 1969||California||5.6, 5.7||1||1969 Santa Rosa earthquakes||Doublet|
|February 9, 1971||California||6.5–6.7||58–65||1971 San Fernando earthquake|
|July 30, 1972||Alaska||7.6||0||1972 Alaska earthquake|
|February 2, 1975||Alaska||7.6||0||1975 Near Islands earthquake|
|November 29, 1975||Hawaii||7.7||2||1975 Hawaii earthquake|
|November 8, 1980||California||7.2||0||1980 Northern California earthquake|
|May 2, 1983||California||6.5||0||1983 Coalinga earthquake|
|October 28, 1983||Idaho||7.3||2||1983 Borah Peak earthquake|
|April 24, 1984||California||6.2||0||1984 Morgan Hill earthquake|
|May 7, 1986||Alaska||8.0||0||1986 Aleutian Islands earthquake|
|October 1, 1987||California||5.9||8||1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake|
|November 30, 1987||Alaska||7.9||0||1987 Gulf of Alaska earthquake|
|March 6, 1988||Alaska||7.8||0||1988 Gulf of Alaska earthquake|
|October 17, 1989||California||6.9||63||1989 Loma Prieta earthquake|
|September 4, 1989||Alaska||7.1||0||1989 Alaska Peninsula earthquake|
|May 30, 1991||Alaska||7.0||0||1991 Aleutian Islands earthquake|
|June 28, 1991||California||5.6||2||1991 Sierra Madre earthquake|
|August 17, 1991||Oregon||7.0||0||1991 Juan De Fuca earthquake|
|April 25–26, 1992||California||6.5–7.2||0||1992 Cape Mendocino earthquakes|
|June 28, 1992||California||7.3||3||1992 Landers earthquake|
|June 28, 1992||California||6.5||0||1992 Big Bear earthquake|
|March 25, 1993||Oregon||5.6||0||1993 Scotts Mills earthquake|
|September 20, 1993||Oregon||6.0||2||1993 Klamath Falls earthquakes|
|January 17, 1994||California||6.7||57||1994 Northridge earthquake|
|September 1, 1994||California||7.0||0||1994 Northern California earthquake|
|April 14, 1995||Texas||5.7||0||1995 Marathon earthquake|
|May 2, 1996||Washington||5.6||0||1996 Duvall earthquake|
|June 10, 1996||Alaska||7.9||0||1996 Andreanof Islands earthquake|
|September 25, 1998||Pennsylvania||5.2||0||1998 Pymatuning earthquake|
|October 16, 1999||California||7.1||0||1999 Hector Mine earthquake|
|December 6, 1999||Alaska||7.0||0||1999 Kodiak Islands earthquake|
|January 10, 2001||Alaska||7.0||0||2001 Kodiak Islands earthquake|
|February 28, 2001||Washington||6.8||1||2001 Nisqually earthquake|
|November 3, 2002||Alaska||7.9||0||2002 Denali earthquake|
|December 22, 2003||California||6.5||2||2003 San Simeon earthquake|
|June 15, 2005||California||7.2||0||2005 Juan De Fuca earthquake|
|September 10, 2006||Florida||5.8||0||2006 Gulf of Mexico earthquake|
|October 15, 2006||Hawaii||6.7||0||2006 Kiholo Bay earthquake|
|October 30, 2007||California||5.6||0||2007 Alum Rock earthquake|
|February 21, 2008||Nevada||6.0||0||2008 Wells earthquake|
|April 18, 2008||Illinois||5.4||0||2008 Illinois earthquake|
|July 29, 2008||California||5.5||0||2008 Chino Hills earthquake|
|January 9, 2010||California||6.5||0||2010 Eureka earthquake|
|July 7, 2010||California||5.4||0||2010 Borrego Springs earthquake|
|August 22, 2011||Colorado||5.3||0||2011 Colorado earthquake|
|August 23, 2011||Virginia||5.9||0||2011 Virginia earthquake|
|November 5, 2011||Oklahoma||5.6||0||2011 Oklahoma earthquake|
|January 5, 2013||Alaska||7.5||0||2013 Southeastern Alaska earthquake|
|March 10, 2014||California||6.8||0||2014 Ferndale earthquake|
|June 23, 2014||Alaska||7.9||0||2014 Aleutian Islands earthquake|
|July 25, 2014||Alaska||6.0||0||2014 Southeast Alaska earthquake|
|August 24, 2014||California||6.0||1||2014 South Napa earthquake|
|September 25, 2014||Alaska||6.2||0||2014 Southern Alaska earthquake|
|May 29, 2015||Alaska||6.8||0||2015 Chirikof Island earthquake|
|July 27, 2015||Alaska||6.9||0||2015 Nikolski earthquake|
|July 29, 2015||Alaska||6.4||0||2015 Redoubt Volcano earthquake|
|January 24, 2016||Alaska||7.1||0||2016 Old Iliamna earthquake|
|September 3, 2016||Oklahoma||5.8||0||2016 Oklahoma earthquake|
|December 8, 2016||California||6.6||0||2016 Ferndale earthquake|
|January 23, 2018||Alaska||7.9||0||2018 Gulf of Alaska earthquake|
|May 4, 2018||Hawaii||6.9||0||2018 Hawaii earthquake|
|August 12, 2018||Alaska||6.4, 6.0||0||2018 Kaktovik earthquakes|
|November 30, 2018||Alaska||7.1||0||2018 Anchorage earthquake|
|July 4, 2019||California||6.4||0||2019 Ridgecrest earthquake|
|July 5, 2019||California||7.1||1||2019 Ridgecrest earthquake|
Earthquake swarms which affected the United States:
The Enola earthquake swarm was a series of earthquakes in 2001 that centered on Central Arkansas. It follows the earthquake swarms of Arkansas in the 1980s, and predates the Guy-Greenbrier earthquake swarm that started in 2010.
The Reno earthquakes of 2008, also known as the "Mogul-Somersett earthquake sequence", occurred in or near the western Reno, Nevada, suburbs of Mogul and Somersett. The earthquake swarm began in February 2008, but the first significant quake of the series occurred on April 15, 2008, registering a 3.6 magnitude. On April 24, 2008, two quakes in the same area registered 4.1 and 4.2. On April 25, 2008, the quake of largest magnitude occurred, registering 4.7 on the Richter scale and causing damage in the immediate area around the epicenter, including destroying 200 feet of a wooden flume supplying water from the Highland Ditch, also known as the Highland Ditch flume. The flume carried up to 50 million US gallons (190,000 m3) a day from the Highland Ditch to Reno's Chalk Bluff Water Treatment Facility and another 5 million US gallons (19,000 m3) to area irrigation users.
The Guy-Greenbrier earthquake swarm occurred in central Arkansas beginning in August 2010. The epicenters of earthquakes in the swarm showed a linear distribution, with a clear overall shift in activity towards the southwest with time, and the largest event in the swarm was the 2011 Arkansas earthquake, at 4.7 on the moment magnitude scale.
Earthquakes which affected the United States but whose epicenters were outside the United States borders:
The 1925 Charlevoix–Kamouraska earthquake struck northeastern North America on February 28, reaching 6.2 on the moment magnitude scale. It was one of the most powerful measured in Canada in the 20th century, with a maximum perceived intensity of VIII (Severe) on the Mercalli intensity scale at its epicentre in the area of Charlevoix-Kamouraska along the Saint Lawrence River near île aux Lièvres and not greater than VI (Strong) in the United States. The quake was felt in Quebec, Shawinigan, Montreal, as far south as Virginia, and as far west as the Mississippi River.
The 2010 Baja California earthquake occurred on April 4 with a moment magnitude of 7.2 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of VII. The shock originated at 15:40:41 local time south of Guadalupe Victoria, Baja California, Mexico.
Earthquakes which did not affect the United States directly, but caused tsunamis which did:
The 1960 Valdivia earthquake or the Great Chilean earthquake on 22 May 1960 is the most powerful earthquake ever recorded. Various studies have placed it at 9.4–9.6 on the moment magnitude scale. It occurred in the afternoon, and lasted approximately 10 minutes. The resulting tsunami affected southern Chile, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, eastern New Zealand, southeast Australia, and the Aleutian Islands.
The 2006 Kuril Islands earthquake occurred on November 15 at 8:14:16 pm JST with a Mw magnitude of 8.3 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of IV (Light). This megathrust earthquake was the largest event in the central Kuril Islands since 1915 and generated a small tsunami that affected the northern Japanese coast. The tsunami crossed the Pacific Ocean and damaged the harbor at Crescent City, California. Post-tsunami surveys indicate that the local tsunami in the central Kuril Islands reached runup of 15 metres (49 ft) or more.
The 2009 Samoa earthquake and tsunami took place on 29 September 2009 in the southern Pacific Ocean adjacent to the Kermadec-Tonga subduction zone. The submarine earthquake occurred in an extensional environment and had a moment magnitude of 8.1 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of VI (Strong). It was the largest earthquake of 2009.
The geology of North America is a subject of regional geology and covers the North American continent, third-largest in the world. Geologic units and processes are investigated on a large scale to reach a synthesized picture of the geological development of the continent.
The richly textured landscape of the United States is a product of the dueling forces of plate tectonics, weathering and erosion. Over the 4.5 billion-year history of our Earth, tectonic upheavals and colliding plates have raised great mountain ranges while the forces of erosion and weathering worked to tear them down. Even after many millions of years, records of Earth's great upheavals remain imprinted as textural variations and surface patterns that define distinctive landscapes or provinces.
The following is a list of earthquake lists, and of top earthquakes by magnitude and fatalities.
The Aleutian Trench is an oceanic trench along a convergent plate boundary which runs along the southern coastline of Alaska and the Aleutian islands. The trench extends for 3,400 km from a triple junction in the west with the Ulakhan Fault and the northern end of the Kuril–Kamchatka Trench, to a junction with the northern end of the Queen Charlotte Fault system in the east. It is classified as a "marginal trench" in the east as it runs along the margin of the continent. The subduction along the trench gives rise to the Aleutian arc, a volcanic island arc, where it runs through the open sea west of the Alaska Peninsula. As a convergent plate boundary, the trench forms part of the boundary between two tectonic plates. Here, the Pacific Plate is being subducted under the North American Plate at a dip angle of nearly 45°. The rate of closure is 3 inches (76 mm) per year.
The 1915 Pleasant Valley earthquake occurred at 22:53:21 on October 2 in north-central Nevada. With a moment magnitude of 6.8 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme), it was the strongest earthquake ever recorded in the state.
The 2010 Chile earthquake occurred off the coast of central Chile on Saturday, 27 February at 03:34 local time, having a magnitude of 8.8 on the moment magnitude scale, with intense shaking lasting for about three minutes. It was felt strongly in six Chilean regions, that together make up about 80 percent of the country's population. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) the cities experiencing the strongest shaking—VIII (Severe) on the Mercalli intensity scale (MM)—were Concepción, Arauco and Coronel. According to Chile's Seismological Service Concepción experienced the strongest shaking at MM IX (Violent). The earthquake was felt in the capital Santiago at MM VII or MM VIII. Tremors were felt in many Argentine cities, including Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Mendoza and La Rioja. Tremors were felt as far north as the city of Ica in southern Peru.
The 1917 Samoa earthquake occurred on June 26 at 05:49 UTC. The epicenter was located in the southwest of the Samoan Islands. The earthquake had a magnitude of Mw 8.5, or Ms 8.4, one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in this region.
The 2014 Aleutian Islands earthquake occurred on 23 June at 11:53 HDT (UTC-9) with a moment magnitude of 7.9 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of VI (Strong). The shock occurred in the Aleutian Islands – part of the US state of Alaska – 19 miles (31 km) southeast of Little Sitkin Island.
In October 2019, the province of Cotabato on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines was struck by an earthquake swarm, of which three earthquakes were above 6.0 in the magnitude scale with an intensity VIII. The first was on October 16, a magnitude 6.3 Mw earthquake, with an epicenter near Tulunan. At least 7 people were killed and 215 others were injured. The second earthquake was on October 29, a magnitude 6.6 event with an epicenter near Bual, to the northeast of the 16 October event. The third earthquake was on October 31, a magnitude 6.5 with epicenter near Tulunan. It is not considered to be an aftershock of the October 29 event. 22 people died and a further 424 were injured after these two events.