Valdivia Earthquake of 1960

The 1960 Valdivia earthquake or Great Chilean Earthquake of 22 May, 1960 is the most powerful earthquake ever recorded, rating 9.5 on the moment magnitude scale.

It occurred in the early afternoon and its resulting tsunami affected southern Chile, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, eastern New Zealand, south east Australia and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.

The epicenter was near Canete (see map) some 700 km south of Santiago although Valdivia, Chile was the most affected city. It caused localised tsunamis that severely battered the Chilean coast, with waves up to 25 metres. The main tsunami raced across the Pacific Ocean and devastated Hilo, Hawaii.

Waves as high as 10.7 metres were recorded 10,000 kilometres from the epicentre, and as far away as Japan and the Philippines.

The largest earthquake ( Moment magnitude Mw= 9.5) of the 20th century occurred on May 22, 1960 off the coast of South Central Chile. It generated one of the most destructive Pacific-wide tsunamis. Near the generating area, both the earthquake and the tsunami were extremely destructive, particularly in the coastal area extending from Concepcion to the south end of Isla Chiloe. The most extensive tsunami damage occurred at Isla Chiloe, the coastal area closest to the epicenter.

Huge tsunami waves measuring as high as 25 meters, arrived within 10 to 15 minutes after the earthquake, killing at least two hundred people, sinking all the boats, and inundating half a kilometer inland. There was extensive damage and loss of life at Concepcion, Chile's top industrial city. Near the city of Valdivia, the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks generated landslides which killed 18 people.

The 1960 Valdivia earthquake or Great Chilean earthquake (Spanish: Gran terremoto de Chile/Valdivia) of 22 May 1960 is to date the most powerful earthquake ever recorded, rating 9.5 on the moment magnitude scale. It occurred in the afternoon (19:11 GMT, 14:11 local time) and its resulting tsunami affected southern Chile, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, eastern New Zealand, southeast Australia, and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.

The epicenter was near CaƱete (see map) some 900 km (435 miles) south of Santiago, with Temuco being the closest large city, while Valdivia was the most affected city. It caused localised tsunamis that severely battered the Chilean coast, with waves up to 25 metres (82 ft). The main tsunami raced across the Pacific Ocean and devastated Hilo, Hawaii.

Waves as high as 10.7 metres (35 ft) were recorded 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) from the epicenter, and as far away as Japan and the Philippines.

At 3.40pm on 22 May 1960 Valdivia was hit by the strongest recorded earthquake in the world. The Earthquake measured 9.5 on the Richter Scale. Most of the buildings in the city were destroyed by the earth's movements or by the devastating tsunamis that followed. Not only were there catastrophic consequences in the South of Chile, the earthquake caused tsunamis that hit Japan (138 people killed), Hawaii (61 people killed) and the Philippines (32 people killed). At 3.11pm, a smaller earthquake was felt in the region and yet another 'smaller' earthquake of 7.5 the day before in ConcepciĆ³n a little to the north.