The fourth-largest earthquake of the 20-century triggered a 5-metre tsunami

Randi Mann
·2 min read
The fourth-largest earthquake of the 20-century triggered a 5-metre tsunami
The fourth-largest earthquake of the 20-century triggered a 5-metre tsunami

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On Wednesday, January 31, 1906, Ecuador and Colombia were hit with an 8.8 magnitude earthquake. On the Richter scale (which was only developed in 1935), this magnitude is categorized as a "great earthquake," which is the most severe group.

The quake triggered a tsunami that killed around 500 people (death toll reported between 500-1,500).

The earthquake occurred over a 500–600 km-span. This is the strongest earthquake for this zone, though four major events have occurred in the same area.

Subsequent earthquakes include 1942 (Mw = 7.8), 1958 (Mw = 7.7), 1979 (Mw = 8.2) and 2016 (Mw = 7.8). The earthquake in 2016 killed 676 people injured 16,600.

In 1868, Colombia and Ecuador experienced their most deadly earthquake in their history, killing 70,000 people.

The tsunami caused by the 1906 quake reached heights of 5 metres. The tsunami affected areas such as Tumaco, Colombia, Hilo, Hawaii and even made it to Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, California and Japan.

The coastal areas of Ecuador and Colombia are prone to megathrust earthquakes that are associated with their geographical location on the Malpelo-North Andes plate boundary.

On Wednesday, April 18, 1906, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit San Francisco. This quake triggered fires, which killed 3,000 people and destroyed 80 per cent of the city.

To learn more about the 1906 Colombia-Ecuador earthquake, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by The Weather Network that features unique and informative stories from host Chris Mei.

Thumbnail image courtesy of: USGS