With a 5.9-magnitude earthquake striking Virginia today (Aug. 23), with shaking reported as far away as New York City, Toronto and other eastern cities, here's a look at some of the most destructive temblors to help put things into perspective.
This natural color, 60-centimeter (2-foot) high-resolution QuickBird satellite image, shows receding waters from the Tsunami, which struck on December 26, 2004, on the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka. Imagery was collected at 10:20 a.m. local time, slightly less than four hours after the 6:28 a.m. (local Sri Lanka time) earthquake and shortly after the moment of tsunami impact.
Caroline and J.T. Malatesta of Mountain Brook, Ala. survived the killer Asian tsunami while on vacation in Thailand. This mountain top photo was taken December 26, 2004 from about 400 feet above the sea on December 26, 2004.
Tidal waves wash through houses at Maddampegama, about 60 kilometers (38 miles) south of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2004. Massive waves triggered by earthquakes crashed into villages along a wide stretch of Sri Lankan coast on Sunday, killing more than 2,100 people and displacing a million others.
A car in Sri Lanka wrecked and relocated by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
In May 2008, a devastating magnitude-8.0 earthquake struck Sichuan province in China, killing thousands. The quake tore apart this road.
A crumbled building in the city of Zhuyuan after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
A Sichuan woman in an emergency tent after the 2008 earthquake. With buildings damaged and destroyed, residents moved into tents and temporary shelters.
In January 2010, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti. The epicenter was right at Port-au-Prince, where many buildings were not up to code.
The Haiti quake caused massive landslides along the coast. This photo was taken near Nan Diamant.
Two residents walk by a building that was once two or three stories. According to the USGS, most buildings collapsed within 10 seconds, giving people inside little time to escape.
These two buildings in the Chilean city of Concepcion attest to the difference construction can make. The apartment complex in the foreground broke from its foundation and toppled, breaking in half. The building in the background suffered no damage.
Uplift of the ground is seen at the beach of Lebu. Uplift in this zone was about 71 inches (180 centimeters), which produced the uplift of a great marine platform.
The 8.8-magnitude Chilean quake generated a 4 to 5 meter (12 to 15 foot) tsunami in Concepcion Harbor.
The 8.9-magnitude (which may have been upgraded to a 9.0) earthquake that struck Japan triggered tsunamis across the region. Here, results from a computer model run by the Center for Tsunami Research at the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory show the expected wave heights of the tsunami as it travels across the Pacific basin.
The largest wave heights are expected near the earthquake epicenter, off the coast of Sendai, Honshu, Japan. The wave will decrease in height as it travels across the deep Pacific but grow taller as it nears coastal areas. In general, as the energy of the wave decreases with distance, the near-shore heights will also decrease. For example, coastal Hawaii will not expect heights of that encountered in coastal Japan, according to NOAA.
Tsunami strikes Sendai, Japan, March 11, 2011.
Tsunami strikes Japan's coast, March 11, 2011.
Whirlpool created by the earthquake off the coast of Japan, March 11, 2011.