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Strongest earthquakes worldwide until 2020

The statistic portrays the world's strongest earthquakes, as of 2020 . A magnitude of 9.0 was measured on the Richter scale during the earthquake in Japan in 2011.

Earthquakes and the Richter scale – additional information

An earthquake occurs when two tectonic plates under the Earth’s surface slip past one another, resulting in the sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust. The sudden violent shaking of the surface can cause destruction to infrastructure, human injury, and even death. The earthquake that occurred on January 17, 1994 in Los Angeles caused damages that were valued up to 30 billion U.S. dollars. As earthquakes are the result of plate boundary interactions, earthquakes tend to occur in a few specific areas, localized around hotspots. China was one of the most frequently affected countries, with more than 150 earthquakes between 1900 and 2016.

Although, earthquakes can be difficult to predict, Earthquake Early Warning systems, which use seismic networks for detection, are put in place to protect peoples' lives. There are also a number of ways to measure the magnitude of an earthquake. One of the first and most widely-used methods is the Richter scale. The Richter magnitude scale was developed by the seismologist, Charles F. Richter, in 1935. On the Richter Scale, magnitude is expressed in whole numbers and decimal fractions, but is based on a logarithmic scale. For example, a magnitude 5.3 might be computed for a moderate earthquake, and a strong earthquake might be rated as magnitude 6.3.

The 1960 earthquake that occurred in Chile was the strongest earthquake recorded between 1900 and 2020, which was measured at a 9.5 magnitude based on the Richter scale. An earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 and higher is defined as causing near or at total destruction - severe damage or collapse to all buildings.

Strongest earthquakes worldwide according to measurements on the Richter scale, as of 2020

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Release date

January 2020



Survey time period

As of January 2020

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Statistics on "Natural Disasters"

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