Dr. Tokuji Utsu, Professor Emeritus of Tokyo University, has been compiling “Catalog of Damaging Earthquakes in the World,” which contains more than 10,000 destructive earthquakes in the world from 3000 B.C.
The catalog that Dr. Utsu provided to the IISEE has destructive earthquakes up to June, 26, 2002. The IISEE is going to continuously update the catalog (the current latest event in the database is the earthquake that occurred on December 19 in 2009 in Malawi).
I have taken the data for earthquake above Mag 6 for each country from Dr. Utsu’s Catalog and converted the information to Google Earth KML files, then transferred to Google Maps for ease of viewing.
Click on an icon for details in the pop up tag.
Click on the “View Larger Map” under each map and the Map will open in Google Maps web page itself with a list of the events in ascending order, oldest at the top, to newest at the bottom on the left hand side column.
Between 1897 and 1980, Ms or mb values are noted in the “Location/Intensity:” line with a S or B.
Between 1904 and 1980, those that are not accompanied by Ms or mB notation can safely be supposed to be earthquakes with a seismic intensity of less than 6.9.
Please note that many earthquakes have overestimated magnitude values.
For earthquakes that are given an Mw value, this is noted in the “Location/Intensity:” line with a W.
The values shown with S in the “Location/Intensity:” line for earthquakes after 1981 are Ms values calculated by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and they are different from the Ms values before 1980.
When values by USGS are used in the “Mag:” line, Ms is given the highest priority (in reference), and mb is used only when no Ms is available.
Northern and Central Europe includes earthquakes recorded in Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Slovakia, Norway/Sweden and Belgium
The Balkans 57BCto1996AD
The Balkans include the countries of Albania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia ( incl. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro), Romania, but not Greece which is mapped seperately.
Includes the earthquakes recorded in the former Soviet Republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan
the Levant 2150BCto1996AD
the Levant is a geographic and cultural term referring to the region that includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and for this project the Sinai peninsula.
Also known throughout history as Retenu, Canaan, Phoenicia, Israel and Judea, Assyria and Syria, Philistia and Palestine, Eber-Nari and Transeuphratia, ash-Sham, Outremer, the Holy Land, and the Eastern Mediterranean
This map includes the KML files for Lebanon 590BCto1956AD, Syria 2050BCto1872AD, Isreal 1250BCto1927AD, Jordan 2150BCto1834AD and Egypt92BCto1996AD.
There may be some duplications in the files, but for Google Maps purposes the icons are singular, click on the blue “Next” text inside the popup tags to see them one by one.
Incl. Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nicobar/Andaman Is.
China 1767BCto2007AD(Taiwan To 2008)+CENC2007-2014
Papua New Guinea 1768ADto2005AD
Vanuatu(New Hebrides Is.) 1903ADto2005AD
South Africa 1912ADto1969AD
Utsu, T., 1990, Catalog of Damaging Earthquakes in the World (Through 1989), Utsu, Tokuji, Tokyo, 243 pp. (in Japanese).
Utsu, T., 2002, A list of deadly earthquakes in the World: 1500-2000, in International Handbook of Earthquake and Engineering Seismology Part A, edited by Lee, W.K., Kanamori, H., Jennings, P.C., and Kisslinger, C., pp. 691-717, Academic Press, San Diego.
Utsu, T., 2004, Catalog of Damaging Earthquakes in the World (Through 2002), the Dbase file distributed at the memorial party of Prof. Tokuji Utsu held in Tokyo.
Source Letter Codes used by Dr. Utsu
Alphabetical letters in the reference column indicate the kind of reference. One or four letters is used from A, C, E. G, I, J, K, M, N, P, R, S, T, U and V. In principle, however, C, J and U are used independently. C, J and U indicate references from China, Japan, and the Unites States, respectively, to prevent them from being combined with references from other countries. If an earthquake has more than five references, only the major four references are placed. It does not necessarily mean that an earthquake has a multiple number of independent references because many materials come from the same reference.
(1962ab, 1968, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1995), Ambraseys et al (1982, 1983, 1986ab, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001) and research papers of which Ambraseys was one of the writers
Ambraseys et al have been conducting research on historical earthquakes that occurred in worldwide including the Middle East. Ambraseys and Finkel (1995) is considered a very important reference on Turkish earthquakes, but I have not read it yet. (It is difficult to obtain a copy.)
C:Ko et al
(1983, 1984), Sha et al (1983-1987), Others, Japanese and Chinese references on Chinese earthquakes
Ko et al (1983) tabulated 3,583 earthquakes. It originally tabulated 3,188 earthquakes, added 46 and deleted 7, and as an appendix (unconvincing or insufficient references) it added 353, added 11 and deleted 8 resulting in a total of 3,583 earthquakes. It carries the location of the epicenter, seismic intensity at the epicenter, and estimated magnitude. Excluding the non-numbered earthquakes in 1831 B.C., all the 590 earthquakes by 1900 were destructive earthquakes, and they are all tabulated.
Many references include earthquakes of more than 4M and those that occur in the sea in the 20th century, and many earthquakes that did not cause damage are also included. However, the table of this file only tabulates earthquakes that cause a certain amount of damage (those with a seismic intensity of more than 7 or with articles on casualties). L used for earthquakes after 1900 indicates Chinese central time, which is virtually Beijing time. Ko et al (1984) is the sequel that contains earthquakes up to 1979. Sha et al(1983-1987) is a voluminous work of nearly 5,000 pages, and this includes histories of non-destructive earthquakes. As for earthquakes before 1901, it tabulates only historical material and does not tabulate location of the epicenter, etc. I included several destructive earthquakes that are not placed in Ko et al (1983) from this reference.
“Chronological Table of Major Chinese Earthquakes” in the versions of the “Chronological Scientific Tables” between 1976 and 1980 is mainly based on the results of long-term research by Mitsuo Keimatsu. Although it was helpful, I did not use much information including magnitude values from this reference.
Both “Chinese National Authorities for Earthquake Damage Prevention” (1995) and Ro(1996) are mostly based on Ko et al (1983, 1984). There are several destructive earthquakes that are not mentioned in these references, many of which occurred in outlying regions, such as Xizang and Xinjiang. Besides these references, I used several Chinese references.
Western references including Milne (1911) tabulate many destructive Chinese earthquakes that are not included in Chinese references, or are included but with no record of damage. I did not include these destructive earthquakes. Since the WDC-A catalog has a policy of including all earthquakes, they are placed in the table of this file. Chinese earthquakes that are not found in Chinese materials are classified as G, and most of them are prefixed by ?.
E: Sieberg (1932)
“Erdbebengeographie” by Sieberg tabulates major earthquakes up to 1930, dividing the world into more than 100 areas. I adopted earthquakes that (1) caused fatalities, (2) included the word Zerstorung (destruction) (for example, zerstorendes Erdbeben, excluding earthquakes with adjectives such as “light”), (3) carried the word Schaden (damage) used with adjectives such as “serious” (for example, schweres Schadenbeben and kraftigen Gebaudenshaden), and (4) carried articles on tidal waves. I also used Sieberg (1930) as a reference.
G:Catalogs published by WDC-A
that include Ganse and Nelson (1981, 1982), Raid and Myers (1985), WGDC/WDC-A (1989), Dunbar and others (1992) and NEIC/WDC-A (website, as of spring in 2001).
Ganse and Nelson (1981; 1982) is a catalog that has collected data from 159 kinds of material, and tabulated earthquakes causing damage of more than 1 million dollars at the value in 1979, more than 10 fatalities or having a magnitude of higher than 7.5 (earthquakes with a seismic intensity of more than 10 for those that are not given a magnitude). However, it also tabulates several earthquakes smaller than these, most of which occurred in the United States. Damage is calculated in physical damage of the value when the earthquake occurred in the unit of one U.S. million dollars, and those not giving the damage caused are divided into five categories by guessing the amount of damage. The five categories are insignificant, limited (less than US$1 million), moderate (between $1 million and $5 million), severe (between $5 million and $25 million) and extreme (more than $25 million). If sufficient information for estimation is not available, limited means slight, minor and light and severe means major, extensive and heavy, and extreme is equivalent to catastrophic. In the references in G, however, there are a number of earthquakes that have no information in the damage column despite considerable damage caused. This catalog contains about 2,400 earthquakes, but there are many doubtful figures and doubtful locations. It is unknown whether these come from the original materials, or are the result of misunderstanding or misentry in editing.
Raid and Meyers (1985) is a catalog on earthquakes in the Middle East, using the same format as Ganse and Nelson (1981; 1982).
WGDC/WDC-A (1989) is an increased and revised edition of Ganse and Nelson (1981) (sold as a magnetic tape). Dunbar, et al (1992) is an increased and revised edition of WGDC/WDC-A and uses the same criteria as Ganse and Nelson (1981), and tabulates about 4,000 earthquakes with many improvements on doubtful issues. Significant Earthquakes World Wide (NOAA), which can be seen on the NEIC/WDC-A website, places day and time, latitude and longitude of the epicenter, magnitude, maximum seismic intensity and tidal waves on a ‘one earthquake for one line’ basis, but earthquake location is not mentioned.
The table of this file contains all earthquakes in the above catalogs. However, the earthquakes tabulated here with symbol C, J, or U are not accompanied by information from the above catalogs, and symbol G is not attached.
References in Section G include all earthquakes of a magnitude higher than 7.5 whether or not they caused damage. However, these references tend to overestimate magnitude, and they include a number of non-destructive earthquakes of a magnitude lower than 7.5. Earthquakes with a clearly overestimated magnitude have remarks notifying overestimation. In Dunbar et al (1992), about 70 Italian earthquakes between 1853 and 1963 are recorded to have a seismic intensity of 12.
An earthquake with a seismic intensity of 12 necessarily causes considerable damage, but none of the 70 earthquakes is tabulated in any earthquake catalogs worldwide including Italian catalogs (to be mentioned in next section). There is a mistake with the seismic intensity figures given for these earthquakes. I have a policy of including all earthquakes placed in the References of Section G, but I have decided against including these Italian earthquakes beginning in the 2001 edition of the table of this file.
I: Postpischl (1985), Boschi et al (2000)
, and other Italian references on Italian earthquakes
The catalog edited by Postpischl tabulates Italian earthquakes between 1000 and 1980 with digital data such as date of occurrence, location of the epicenter and magnitude, but no articles on damage are attached. This catalog tends to set the magnitude lower than the real value. Descriptions of damage are placed in the distribution map of seismic intensity of Italian earthquakes edited by Postpischl. My table includes earthquakes with a maximum seismic intensity of 9 (including between 8 and 9) from the Postpischl catalog. Earthquakes with a seismic intensity between 7 and 8 must have caused damage, but the number of earthquakes in the table will be enormous should they be included. Even if an earthquake did not cause damage, it may have had a seismic intensity of more than 7 if a certain formula is used for estimation using the intensity of various areas. If I include earthquakes that are proved by other material as having caused considerable damage, data such as time of occurrence and location of the epicenter are adapted from the catalog. As mentioned below, however, the earthquake data referred to in Boschi et al (2000) is included. Carrozzo (1972) is used as reference only for earthquakes before 1999.
The latest edition of the catalog of Italian historical earthquakes that was edited by Boschi et al (1995; 1997) is published by Ann. Geofis. on CD-ROM (Boschi and others, 2000). Related research papers are published in Ann. Geofis.; however, a specially developed software program is necessary to view the contents of the catalog. In addition, the article is written in Italian, which makes it difficult to use as a reference. However, based on this CD-ROM, I revised data on earthquakes with a maximum seismic intensity of 9 (including between 8 and 9) and those included from other catalogs. Those already adopted in the table of this file but not included in this catalog are numerous and are left unchanged. It is unknown whether they are not placed in the CD-ROM because they did not cause damage or because there was few historical data.
J: Usami (1987, 1996)
and other Japanese references on Japanese earthquakes
Initially, the table of this file was based mainly on Usami (1987), but Usami (1996) was used to upgrade it. I also referred to “Dainippon Jishin Shiryo (Historical Materials of Japanese Earthquakes),” “Nippon Jishin Shiryo (Historical Materials of Japanese Earthquakes),” “Shinshu Nippon Jishin Shiryo (Newly Collected Historical Materials of Japanese Earthquakes)” and materials published by the Japan Meteorological Agency, such as the Meteorology Directory and ‘Earthquake Monthly’.
The locations of epicenters and magnitude values of historical earthquakes are from Usami (1996). I included the median in the M column if an earthquake is given a range of magnitude. I also included the medians if an earthquake is given a range of latitude and longitude of the epicenter. No fractional numbers can be used in the table for the purpose of data processing and printing, and I used 34.3 instead of 341/2 for latitude, 6.8 instead of 63/4 and 5.5 instead of 51/2 for magnitude. A small number of earthquakes have an epicenter location that is slightly different from the location adopted in Usami (1996).
K: Kondorskaya and Shebalin (1982)
I included earthquakes with a seismic intensity at the epicenter of more than 8 (including between 7 and 8) and those with articles on damage from this catalog published in the Soviet Union. Seismic intensity in this catalog is the estimated value calculated using the intensity in an isoseismal map or the intensity near the epicenter.
Generally, an earthquake with a seismic intensity of more than 8 necessarily causes damage, but many of the earthquakes in this catalog are not proved to have caused damage. Earthquakes before modern times have simple damage reports, but those in modern times are not accompanied by damage reports. In addition to earthquakes with epicenters in the Soviet Union, this catalog includes earthquakes that occurred in neighboring countries including Romania, Iran and Japan, and caused damage to the Soviet Union.
M: Alsinawi et al (1975, 1985a, 1985b), Berberian (1994), Ben-Menahem (1979), Eiby (1968ab, 1973), Poirie et al (1980ab), Robson (1964), Rothe (1969)
, references both at home and abroad on earthquakes worldwide
Besides the references listed in these publications based on research papers and monographs that cover one or several earthquakes, I included earthquakes that satisfy the selection criteria of the table and information on the earthquakes already tabulated.
N: Ceresis (Centro Regional de Seismologia para America del Sur) (1985)
Published in 1985, this is a 14-volume catalog on earthquakes in South America. Volumes 2-9 contain earthquake catalogs of each country, and volume 11 is historical material for major earthquakes between 1530 and 1894. From the volumes covering the earthquake catalogs of each country, I included earthquakes with a seismic intensity of more than 9 even if they are not accompanied by fatality reports, and those with a seismic intensity of more than 7 if they are accompanied by casualty reports (with c in the ‘casualties’ column).
P: Papazachos and Comninakis
(1982), Comninakis and Papazachos (1982), Papazachos et al (1982), Catalogs of earthquakes and tidal waves that occurred in Greece and neighboring areas including Papazachos et al (1997).
There are books written in Greece on Greek earthquakes including Papazachos and Papazachos, (1989), but I have not read them.
R: Milne (1911)
, Chronological Scientific Tables (1961, 974), and others
Milne (1911) is a catalog that tabulates more than 5,000 destructive earthquakes worldwide between A.D. 7 and the end of 1899, and classifies damage into three classes, I to III, depending on the degree of damage. I included earthquakes in Classes II and III for the table of this file. There are some earthquakes included from Class I, because other references specify that they satisfy the selection criteria of the table. Many Japanese and Chinese earthquakes are classified into II or III, though they are not accompanied by damage reports in the catalogs of their home countries. As mentioned earlier, I have not included these earthquakes.
I Cracked walls, broken chimneys, destruction of old buildings and small ground fissures
II Roofs coming off, destruction and collapse of buildings, ground fissures and small landslides
III Destruction of cities and devastated areas, faults and ground fissures causing outbursts of water, mud and sand
The “Chronological Scientific Tables” included the first part of the “Table of Major Earthquakes in the World” in its 1929 to 1962 editions . This table lists 587 earthquakes from A.D. 17 to 1899, using extracted data of damage Class III from the table of Milne (1911). The latter part covering after 1900 contains material that cannot be found in other references. In the 1974 edition, the “Chronological Scientific Tables” contains major earthquakes worldwide between 1900 and 1972. As for earthquakes adopted from other references, I also refer to the materials of this publication and the table of earthquakes worldwide carried in every edition from 1975 to 1986.
Mallet (1850-1853) is a catalog that contains a table of several thousand earthquakes between 1606 B.C. and 1842. (Although the title reads earthquakes before 1850, it does not contain earthquakes that occurred in the 8-year period after 1943 because a catalog by M. Perry was published that included this information.) I did not use Mallet’s catalog because Milne (1911) reprinted information of many earthquakes from Mallet’s catalog. However, I found several destructive earthquakes contained in Mallet’s catalog but were not listed in Milne’s catalog for reasons unknown.
S: SEAN Bulletin (1980-1988)
, United States Earthquakes (1943-1977), Significant Earthquakes of the World (1980-2001), BSSA (1911-1994)/SRL (1995-2001)
The ‘Scientific Event Alert Network (SEAN) Bulletin’ is a monthly publication that carries flash news of destructive earthquakes worldwide in its earthquake section. United States Earthquakes is an annual government publication, and earthquakes contained in this publication are mostly those occurring in the United States. It also includes information on epicenters of the world, designated by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (USCGS), the National Oceanic & Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as well as articles on major earthquakes. “Significant Earthquakes of the World” arranges annually earthquakes of a magnitude of 6.5 and those that cause damage among those covered by the Preliminary Determination of Epicenters (PDE). Earthquakes covered by this publication after 1980 can be browsed on the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) website. Every issue of the “Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America” (BSSA) carries articles on major earthquakes worldwide in its Seismological Notes column. This column has many features in common with Unites States Earthquakes and Significant Earthquakes because they share the same information source. Seismological Research Letters (SRL) has carried the articles since 1995, replacing BSSA.
T: WDC-A (1992)
is a catalog published in 1992 that contains information on tidal waves worldwide between 2000 B.C. and 1900. It is available in two floppy diskettes.
U: Coffman, von Hake and Stover (1982)
History of American Earthquakes, edited by Coffman et al
The first edition was published in 1928. Dividing the U.S. into nine areas, it contains tables listing significant earthquakes (with a seismic intensity of more than 5) and articles on major earthquakes. I included American earthquakes with a seismic intensity of more than 7 because even earthquakes with a minimum seismic intensity of 7 cause damage in the U.S. and are often quoted in seismology studies.
V: Karnik (1969, 1971)
Karnik (1969) contains catalogs of earthquakes, two thirds of which are those that occurred in Europe between 1901 and 1995 with a maximum seismic intensity of 6 or of a magnitude higher than 4.5. No damage reports are attached. Karnik (1971) is a catalog of earthquakes in Europe with a seismic intensity of 7 that covers the estimated locations of the epicenters and damage reports. The table of this file includes earthquakes with a seismic intensity of 9 (including between 8 and 9) at the epicenter, and leaves the damage column blank for earthquakes that occurred after 1901 when materials on them from other references cannot be found.