The 1964 Good Friday Earthquake: Alaska's Armageddon

Results Of The 'Good Friday Tsunami' View of cars wrecked cars in a tsunami caused by the 'Good Friday' earthquake, Crescent City, California, March 1, 1964. Source: (

Those Alaskans who lived through it will never forget the calamity of March 27, 1964: the Good Friday Earthquake. Alaska is prone to earthquakes, moreso than California, and the Good Friday Earthquake, also known as the Great Alaska Earthquake, was "the big one." With a magnitude of 9.2, it's the most powerful quake ever to strike North America, and the second-strongest in recorded history. At 5:36 PM on Friday, March 27, 1964, fissures in the ground violently opened along a 600-mile fault, and for over four minutes the people living along it were shaken to the ground. Roads split open, houses crumbled, and the city of Anchorage suffered heavy damage.

Alaska's southern coast, like California's coastline, lies on the "ring of fire," where tectonic plates meet and seismic activity is frequent. Alaska, though, sees more than twice as many quakes as the lower 48. The Great Alaska Earthquake left 131 people dead, many of them killed by the ensuing tsunamis.