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NWDEarthquakesCalifornia Earthquake History

California Earthquake History

earthquake california street

The earthquakes in California occur very often and the first of them was registered on July 28, 1769. It has been noticed by Spaniards during the construction of the overland route. We want to tell you about all the major earthquakes in California. Some of them have left a serious imprint in California earthquake history and are still being discussed today.

San Juan Capistrano (Wrightwood)

Earthquakes with magnitude 7.5 occurred in December 1812. The exact location is not determined, but approximately it happened in San Bernardino County.

Because of the natural phenomenon, about 40 Native Americans were killed. They took part in mass and were in church, which was completely destroyed.

Santa Barbara Channel

The fault under Santa Cruz island caused the earthquake with magnitude 7.2 on December 21, 1812. Villages were destroyed, and many objects were leveled to the ground.

It also caused a tsunami, which has fallen in San Francisco and flooded several blocks.

Fort Tejon

Fort Tejon

This earthquake has killed only two people, but its magnitude has reached 7.9 MSK. It happened on January 9, 1857. A small number of victims are connected with the fact that at that time the USA was at the stage of development and the area of seismic activity had a small density of population.

Consequences have touched the landscape and rivers, which changed their direction. New sources were created, roads were damaged. The biggest damage was received by Fort Tejon.

Some sources say that the shaking lasted one minute, but there is information that it could have lasted up to 3 minutes.


In California earthquake history, this phenomenon was called the “Great earthquake”. Its magnitude was approximately 6.9 points. The consequences were not very pleasant. 5 people were killed, 30 people were injured, and the bay suffered huge damage.

Owens Valley

california big earthquake

A small valley Owens expected a terrible fate on March 26, 1872. The earthquake killed 27 people, and many walls of buildings were destroyed. The earthquake has destroyed 52 buildings and leveled them to the ground.

Official information states that magnitude was about 7.4 points, but there is an assumption that it could reach 7.9.

Laguna Salada

Fortunately, the earthquake with magnitude 7 did not take lives. It happened on February 23, 1892, near Salada Lagoon. As this region was not inhabited, it did not cause much damage.

However, it destroyed buildings, warehouses, and school. The shaking was also felt in remote areas, but the damage was minimal.


The magnitude reached 6.4 points. On April 19, 1892, there were heavy destructions in the Solano and Yolo districts. Close rural areas were also devastated.

On April 21, there was a repeated blow to the area, which also entailed heavy losses. And aftershocks reached even greater magnitude than the main strike.

Cajon Pass

There were no complaints about victims or injured people. However, it is known that on July 22, 1899, the earthquake with magnitude 5.7 has struck the North-West from San Bernardino.

Southern California has also reported about shocks in its areas. This earthquake has caused landslides and destroyed several buildings.

San Jacinto Fault Zone

destroyed house

Santa did not bring the best Christmas gift for Riverside County in 1899. There was an earthquake with magnitude 6.5 in 10 miles, which was quite destructive.

Six people were killed because the walls fell on them. All brick buildings were destroyed. More than 30 aftershocks followed after the main strike on the same day.

San Francisco

The largest earthquakes in California were in San Francisco. It happened on April 18, 1906. Its magnitude reached 7.9 points. It took 3000 lives and injured about 230000 people. The damage was estimated at 400 million dollars.

It demolished bridges and buildings in big cities and even managed to change the riverbed.


This earthquake has not been recognized as very dangerous and strong. It damaged several chimneys and had a magnitude 6. It is the only one of its kind, as it happened in the zone of Elsinore rupture. After that, no earthquakes have been observed in this zone. It has happened on May 15, 1910.

Imperial Valley

This time two earthquakes have passed near El Center in the difference of 60 minutes. One of them had a magnitude of 6.1 and the other 6.3. The first one has weakened the base of many buildings, and the second one has completely destroyed them.

Because of the warning of the first earthquake, people were able to escape, and there were no victims.

However Mexican dancers and gamblers were not afraid of shocks and stayed in buildings after the first earthquake. As a result, 6 talented people went to the other world, and many people were affected by the destroyed buildings.

San Jacinto

Sunday day helped people to avoid death on April 21, 1918. There were far fewer people than could have been on a weekday in the area of the strike. The earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 has happened in San Jacinto. There were significant damages in business areas and many structures were destroyed. Dear ones were blocked by landslides. Two miners’ workers were stuck because of the landslide, but they were saved. Cracks appeared on the roads and land.

North San Jacinto Fault


The earthquake with magnitude 6.3 has been observed in the south from San Bernardino. Nobody was killed, but two people were injured. Not the most terrible case in California earthquake history. There were some minor damages, which caused the destruction of house structures. Two hospitals in the county were badly damaged.

Sierra Madre

The 1991 earthquake in California killed two people and caused 100 injuries. The damage was estimated at $40 million in the San Gabriel Valley. There was a lot of damage to the buildings, as well as to the mountain roads.


One of the largest earthquakes in the California earthquake history, which literally moved the earth from its place. Its magnitude has reached 7.3 points. There were 3 victims and more than 410 injured people. The shake was felt in many states. It happened on June 28, 1992.

Read more about worst earthquakes in article The Worst Earthquakes In History

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