World’s deadliest earthquake


What shook China in 1556

Isabella Harrop, Staff Writer

The deadliest earthquake in history was in Shaanxi, China in on January 23, 1556. Earthquakes occur when rocks underground suddenly break. We have tectonic plates that are constantly moving, but they can get stuck on the edges due to friction. When that happens, the stress on the edge overcomes the friction and causes an earthquake and you will feel the shaking begin to happen. The shaking occurs because of the waves that travel through the earth’s crust.

It estimated that the earthquake of 1556 killed 830,000 people. The massive death toll is said to have reduced the population in the two provinces by 60 percent. Scientific investigation revealed that the magnitude of the earthquake was approximately 8.0 to 8.3. That isn’t anywhere close to the strongest tremor. A tremor is the shake that you feel from an involuntary movement in the rocks of the earth. The reason the earthquake caused so much damage is because the quake struck in the middle of a densely populated area with poorly constructed buildings and homes. Every building and home collapsed, killing more than half of the residents.

The earthquake only lasted seconds but it leveled out mountains, altered paths of rivers, caused massive flooding, opened fissures up 66 feet deep, produced landslides, and ignited fires which burned for days. Many of those who died were crushed by the falling buildings. After that earthquake it took 6 months to rebuilt many of the houses with bamboo and wood because they are softer then stone buildings. It is impossible to determine how much it would cost to repair the damages in modern days.

Not only did they have a significant loss in loved ones there was significant cultural damage.  The building called the Small Wild Goose lost its top floor and about 6 feet of height. It was a multi-eave square brick 45-meter-long structure with fifteen stories. They lost China’s Stele Forrest museum that housed a collection of steles and stone sculptures since the 11th century. Although tragedy like this can’t be stopped, we do know more about them and when they will most likely hit and how bad therefore we can better prepare for them.