1964: Alaska's Good Friday Earthquake

On March 27, 1964, a megathrust earthquake struck Alaska, about 15 miles below Prince William Sound, halfway between Anchorage and Valdez. The quake had a moment magnitude of 9.2, making it the second most powerful earthquake ever recorded. The initial quake and subsequent underwater landslides caused numerous tsunamis, which inflicted heavy damage on the coastal towns of Valdez, Whittier, Seward, and Kodiak. Alaska's biggest city, Anchorage, suffered numerous landslides, destroying city blocks and neighborhoods. An estimated 139 people were killed, most by tsunamis -- including 16 deaths on Oregon and California shorelines. The old town site of Valdez was abandoned, with reconstruction taking place on stable ground nearby. This is the fourth of five entries focusing on events of the year 1964 this week (and next Monday). Monday's entry will feature images of the New York World's Fair.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Nicky Loh / Reuters

    Taiwan's Kinmen Islands, Only a Few Miles From Mainland China

    Taiwan’s Great Kinmen Island and its neighbor islets, in a harbor just east of the Chinese city of Xiamen, are practically surrounded by the People's Republic of China—in some places barely more than a mile apart. Reuters reports that the island is now “eyeing closer commercial ties with China,” with “plans to build a bridge and set up a glittering free trade zone with the city.”

  • Toby Melville / Reuters

    Fall Is in the Air

    It's my favorite time of year once again—the autumnal equinox took place a couple weeks ago, marking the end of summer and the start of fall across the Northern Hemisphere.

  • © James Smart / National Geographic Photo Contest

    2015 National Geographic Photo Contest

    National Geographic Magazine has opened its annual photo contest, with the deadline for submissions coming up on November 16, 2015.

  • Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP / Getty

    Protesters Tear Air France Executives’ Shirts From Their Backs

    On Monday, October 5, union activists protesting against proposed layoffs at Air France broke through fences and disrupted a meeting, targeting at least two managers who were forced to flee the angry crowd, their clothes ripped from their backs.

Join the Discussion