List: The biggest known earthquakes to hit the US

Posted at 9:57 AM, Apr 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-27 09:57:55-04

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal has killed more than 3,600 as the death toll rises. 

Aid workers are rushing to help the more than 6,000 reportedly wounded along with the devastated towns and villages.  

The United States has not been immune to earthquakes. Though earthquakes are most common in the western United States, portions of the country from coast to coast have had documented earthquakes. 

Here are some of America's most powerful earthquakes, since 1811:

March 28, 1964 — A magnitude 9.2 earthquake hit Prince William Sound in Alaska, only five years after the territory joined the union. To date, this is the most powerful earthquake to ever hit the United States. Five other earthquakes measured at a magnitude of at least 8.0 have hit Alaska since 1899, according to the USGS.

Damage from the 1964 Alaska earthquake. (Photo: United States Geological Survey)

Jan. 9, 1857 — The most powerful earthquake to ever hit the continental 48 states slammed Fort Tejon, California. The Fort Tejon earthquake measured at magnitude 7.9, according to the USGS. The seismic event was felt all the way in Las Vegas.

April 18, 1906 — A fierce magnitude 7.8 earthquake rocked San Francisco, shaking the area for about 60 seconds, according to historic reports. The USGS website claims 3,000 people died from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and about $524 million in property loss was reported.

A crumbled hotel was part of the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake. (Photo: USGS)

Oct. 11, 1918 — In its history, Puerto Rico has been the site of several earthquakes, with one of its most notable happening in 1918. This magnitude 7.5 earthquake emanated between Santo Domingo and San Juan, killing 116 people and causing an estimated $4 million in damages.

Dec. 16, 1811 — Feb. 7, 1812 - A series of earthquakes ranging from magnitude 7.0 to 7.7 hit New Madrid, Missouri, along the Mississippi River. According to the USGS, these events remain the largest to hit the eastern United States, encompassing 600,000 square kilometers of damage. The measurements of these earthquakes is based on modern interpretations of journals documenting the events, as there were no seismographs in North America.

Sept. 1, 1886 — America’s east coast hasn’t typically been a site for major seismic activity but in 1886, Charleston, South Carolina was rocked by a magnitude 7.3 earthquake. “This is the most damaging earthquake to occur in the Southeast United States and one of the largest historic shocks in Eastern north America,” according to the USGS. As a result, 60 people were killed by the event and structural damage was reported as far away as central Alabama and central Ohio.

A damaged building in Charleston, South Carolina after the 1886 earthquake. (Photo: USGS)

June 28, 1992 — One of the strongest earthquakes in modern American history hit the southern California city of Landers just over 22 years ago. This magnitude 7.3 event caused injuries to 400 people and resulted in two deaths from heart attacks, according to the USGS. The earthquake also triggered a magnitude 6.5 event a few hours later in nearby Big Bear, Calif.

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