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Portugal Earthquake of 1755

On the morning of November 1, 1755, the southwestern corner of Portugal was struck by one of the largest earthquakes ever felt in Europe.

The first major shock was soon followed by at least two major aftershocks, and smaller aftershocks continued to shake the region (which extended into Spain and Northern Africa) for several months. Lisbon, Portugal, was all but destroyed by the quake, aftershocks, and resulting fires, as well as by a tsunami spawned by the earthquake that was reported to be about 60 feet high. Because it was All Saints' Day, much of the city's population was crowded into temples and cathedrals, many of which were destroyed; 600 persons were killed in one church, 400 in another, 300 in another. Fire destroyed the palace of the Marques de Lourical, and the hundreds of priceless works of art and tens of thousands historical and rare books, manuscripts, and maps. By the time the aftershocks ended an estimated 60,000 persons had been killed.

Contemporary engravings of Lisbon before (top) and after (bottom) the earthquake.
contemporary depiction of Lisbon earthquake damage


Marvels and Mysteries of the World Around Us Pleasantville, New York: The Reader's Digest Association, 1972

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The Robinson Library >> Dynamic and Structural Geology

This page was last updated on 09/01/2018.