In Greek mythology, Enceladus was one of the Gigantes, or Giants, the enormous children of Gaia, the ancient Greek personification of Earth. During the battle between the Giants and the Olympian gods, Enceladus was wounded by a spear thrown by the goddess Athena. He was buried on the island of Sicily, under Mount Etna. The volcanic fires of Etna were said to be the breath of Enceladus, and its tremors to be caused by him rolling his injured side beneath the mountain. In Greece, an earthquake is still often called a “strike of Enceladus”
Ten of the strongest earthquakes to have shaken the planet since the 18th century
Great Tangshan earthquake epicentre
Name: Great Tangshan Earthquake
Magnitude: 7.8 (Richter scale)
When: Wednesday July 28, 1976
Where: near Tangshan in Hebei, China
Casualties: Believed to be the largest earthquake in the 20th century by death toll. The number of deaths reported by the Chinese government was 655,000.
Hawke’s Bay earthquake epicentre
Name: Hawke’s Bay earthquake, also known as the Napier earthquake
Magnitude: 7.8 (moment magnitude scale)
Where: 15 km north of Napier, New Zealand
When: Tuesday February 3, 1931
Casualties: 256 people killed. Hawke’s Bay region devastated. It remains New Zealand’s deadliest natural disaster.
Name: Luzon earthquake
Magnitude: 7.8 (moment magnitude scale)
When: Monday July 16, 1990
Where: near the town of Rizal, Philippines
Casualties: An estimated 1,621 people were killed. Damage was caused within an area of about 20,000 square kilometres.
Villages turned to ruins after the Mino-Owari earthquake
Name: Mino-Owari Earthquake
Magnitude: 8 (Richter scale)
When: October 28, 1891
Where: former provinces of Mino and Owari in Japan
Casualties: It is the largest known inland earthquake in Japan. According to records, there were approximately 7,273 deaths and 17,175 casualties, as well as complete destruction of over 140,000 homes.
Sendai airport after the tsunami
Name: Great East Japan Earthquake
Magnitude: 9 (moment magnitude scale)
When: March 11, 2011
Where: east of the Oshika Peninsula in Japan
Casualties: It was the most powerful known offshore earthquake ever to have hit Japan, and the fifth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900. The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5 metres in Miyako and which, in the Sendai area, travelled up to 10 km inland. The officially confirmed casualties included 15,883 deaths, 6,143 injured and 2,681 people missing across twenty prefectures, as well as 129,225 buildings totally collapsed, with a further 254,204 buildings ‘half collapsed’, and another 691,766 buildings partially damaged. The tsunami caused nuclear accidents, primarily the level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, and the associated evacuation zones affecting hundreds of thousands of residents. The World Bank’s estimated economic cost was US$235 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster in world history.
Name: Great Lisbon Earthquake
Magnitude: Estimated between 8.5 – 9 (moment magnitude scale)
Where: Lisbon, Portugal
When: Saturday November 1, 1755, (All Saints’ Day holiday)
Casualties: Estimates place the total death toll in Portugal, Spain and Morocco from the earthquake and the resulting fires and tsunami at 40,000 to 50,000 people. Eighty-five percent of Lisbon’s buildings were destroyed, including famous palaces and libraries.
Great Sichuan earthquake epicentre
Name: Great Sichuan Earthquake
Magnitude: 8 moment magnitude scale
When: Monday May 12, 2008
Where: Sichuan province of China
Casualties: An estimated 68,000 people were killed, 374,176 injured, with 18,222 listed as missing. The earthquake left homeless up to 11 million people.
Name: Great Alaskan Earthquake
Magnitude: 9.2 (moment magnitude scale – the second most powerful ever measured by seismograph)
Where: east of Anchorage, Alaska
When: Good Friday, March 27, 1964
Casualties: Caused an estimated 143 deaths. Lasting nearly three minutes, it was the most powerful recorded earthquake in US and North American history.
Sumatra-Andaman earthquake epicentre
Name: Sumatra–Andaman earthquake
Magnitude: 9.1 – 9.3 (moment magnitude scale.) The earthquake had the longest duration of faulting ever observed, between 8.3 and 10 minutes
When: Sunday, December 26, 2004
Where: 160 km offshore in the Indian Ocean, north of Simeulue island, off the western coast of northern Sumatra
Casualties: The resulting tsunamis killed over 230,000 people in fourteen countries with waves up to 30 meters high. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. More than 165,000 people were killed in Indonesia alone.
Name: Valdivia earthquake or Great Chilean Earthquake
Magnitude: 9.5 (moment magnitude scale – the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to date)
Where: near Lumaco, 570 kilometres south of Santiago, Chile
When: Sunday May 22, 1960
Casualties: Studies with figures of 2,231, 3,000, or 5,700 killed were published. Different sources have estimated the monetary cost ranged from US$400 million to 800 million (or 2.9 to 5.8 billion in 2011 dollars, adjusted for inflation). Valdivia was the most affected city. In the earthquake’s aftermath, tsunami waves struck southern Chile, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, eastern New Zealand, southeast Australia, and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.