Historic Earthquakes

St. Lawrence Valley region, Quebec, Canada
1663 02 05 22:30 UTC
Magnitude 7.0
Intensity X

Felt Area: Probably all of eastern Canada and the northeastern part of the United States, about 750,000 square miles.

This earthquake occurred so early in colonial history that the accounts are far from definite. Many of them are quite lurid, telling of mountains being thrown down and of great forests sliding into the St. Lawrence River. However, a number of French priests were in the country at the time, and one of them had passed through the region of greatest change several years before. There seems to be little doubt that this was a very severe earthquake, and that in the vicinity of Three Rivers (Trois-Rivières), Quebec, there were important rockslides that considerably modified a series of waterfalls. There were landslides along the St. Lawrence, and it is stated that the water remained muddy for a month.

This earthquake was felt sharply in New England; in every case the wave motion appeared to come from the northwest. On Massachusetts Bay, houses were shaken, pewter fell from shelves, and chimneys were broken or thrown down. If this earthquake had occurred at a later date, considerable property damage would have resulted.

Abridged from Earthquake History of the United States, Publication 41-1, Revised Edition (Through 1970), Reprinted 1982 with Supplement (1971-80). Published jointly by: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey.