Top 10 Expensive U.S. Earthquakes

By: Gregory Wallace
By: Gregory Wallace
Damages from the Northern California earthquake could amount to more than $1 billion, which would make it the most expensive in terms of home and infrastructure damage.

Damaged building in California after earthquake.

Most Expensive Earthquakes

NEW YORK (CNN) Damage from the earthquake that jolted northern California Sunday morning could amount to more than $1 billion, according to an initial estimate by the U.S. Geological Survey.

That would rank the 6.1 magnitude quake, which left extensive and widespread damage, among the most expensive in terms of damage to homes and other infrastructure.

Nearly all of the 10 most expensive earthquakes in U.S. history have hit California.

Here is the list, with cost figures not adjusted for inflation, according to the Insurance Information Institute and USGS:

1. January 17, 1994: The 6.7 quake that hit California's San Fernando Valley has come to be known as the Northridge quake. It caused $44 billion in damage, about $15 billion of which was covered by insurance policies. It killed 60 people and injured more than 7,000, the USGS says.

2. October 17, 1989: The last time the San Francisco Bay region shook like it did on Sunday was the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake. It was responsible for $10 billion in damage.

3. February 28, 2001: The magnitude 6.8 earthquake that rattled Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, was felt as far away as Montana. It caused about $2 billion in damage.

4. March 27-28, 1964: The Great Alaska Earthquake was the second-strongest earthquake ever recorded and lasted about three minutes, according to the USGS. It leveled buildings and caused landslides, then was followed by a tsunami that pummeled coastal towns. The damage totaled about $570 million.

5. February 9, 1971: It took just 60 seconds of shaking for highway overpasses in the San Fernando Valley to collapse. The magnitude 6.6 earthquake caused about $553 million in damage. Only $35 million was covered by insurance policies.

6. April 18, 1906: The legacy of the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake isn't the trembling ground, but the fires it caused. All told, the damage amounted to $524 million. The official death toll was 700, although the USGS said that figure "underestimate(d) the total loss of life by a factor of 3 or 4."

7. October 1, 1987: Two dozen bridges in the Los Angeles area were damaged by the 5.9 magnitude Whittier Narrows earthquake. It caused about $360 million in damage.

8. April 4, 2010: The so-called Easter Earthquake was a magnitude 7.2 and shook San Diego, Los Angeles and parts of Arizona. It caused $150 million in damage.

9. June 28, 1992: Two earthquakes, rated at 7.6 and 6.7, about 17 miles apart, shook Southern California and caused about $100 million in damage.

10. September 3, 2000: This magnitude 5.0 earthquake in the Napa area caused "considerable damage," according to the USGS. The insurance institute tallied the cost at $80 million.


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