In addition to more than three minutes of shaking, the earthquake unleashed unimaginable devastation to Alaska's landscape, including tsunamis, liquefaction, ground fissures, avalanches, and underwater landslides. Only 139 people died in the earthquake, however, and only 15 as a direct result of the quake itself. The World’s largest earthquake with an instrumentally documented magnitude occurred on May 22, 1960 near Valdivia, in southern Chile. During the 100 year period between 1906 and 2005 three earthquakes accounted for nearly half of the world's total seismic release.
It was fortunate that the earthquake occurred in the middle of the afternoon and was preceded by a powerful foreshock.
That foreshock frightened most people from their buildings, placing them outside when the main earthquake occurred. Most of the damage and deaths were caused by a series of tsunamis that were generated by the earthquake. This is one of the few earthquakes that has killed large numbers of people at distant locations.
Fifteen hours after the earthquake a tsunami with a runup of 35 feet swept over coastal areas of Hawaii.


Waves up to 18 feet high hit the island of Honshu, Japan about 22 hours after the earthquake. In Hilo Bay, however, the third wave was converted into a bore that flooded inland to the 6 m contour.
At Santa Monica the water fell so low that the bottom of the breakwater was nearly exposed. At Santa Barbara a drifting oil exploration barge repeatedly rammed the new dredge causing at least $10,000 in damage.
Deepest Lake in the World: Lake Baikal in southern Russia is the deepest lake in the World. The earthquake produced a powerful tsunami that traveled at a speed of about 200 miles per hour across the Pacific Ocean.
Numerous large earthquakes have occurred in this area before and after the May 22, 1960 event. A 45 m bait barge smashed eight slips at the Seaforth Landing before breaking in half and sinking. One surge swept more than 91 m up the beach flooding a parking lot just off the Pacific coast Highway.


This scene shows part of a coastal community where homes were torn from their foundations and tossed about by the waves.
Buildings that used to occupy this site were pushed back against the hills by the tsunami and some were them carried out to sea by the receeding waters. The area in the foreground was cleared of heavy machinery, mill rollers and metal stocks that were strewn about by the wave.
The earthquake remains the most powerful earthquake to strike North America, and the second-largest earthquake ever measured. In the days after the earthquake, 11 aftershocks were recorded with a magnitude greater than 6.2. The star marks the location of the epicenter and the numbers on the contour lines are travel times in hours for the wave front.



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