Historic Earthquakes

Puerto Rico Region
1867 November 18 14:15 UTC
Intensity VIII

Property damage occurred in the Virgin Islands and over all of Puerto Rico. The disturbance was followed by great sea waves, and by aftershocks lasting 5 to 6 months. At Fajardo, in eastern Puerto Rico, the church was left in ruins. At Guayama, about 31 miles to the southwest, the church was badly damaged and the roof collapsed. At San Juan, churches and homes were damaged but no walls were thrown down. Slight damage also was sustained at Isabela, Ponce, and San German, Puerto Rico. Reports from the Alcade of Yabucoa in southeastern Puerto Rico indicated that the sea withdrew about150 yards and then advanced an equal distance over the land. A tsunami was noted at Fajardo, 20 miles to the northeast, but it was very small.

Abridged from Earthquake History of the United States, Publication 41-1, Revised Edition (Through 1970), Reprinted 1982, With Supplement (1971-80). Edited by Jerry L. Coffman and Carl A. von Hake, NOAA, Environmental Data And Information Service, and Carl W. Stover, U.S. Geological Survey. U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey. Boulder, Colorado, 1982.

On November 18, 1867, 20 days after the Island was devastated by Hurricane San Narciso, a strong earthquake occurred with an approximate magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter Scale. The epicenter was located in the Anegada Passage, between Puerto Rico and St. Croix, Virgin Islands. The earthquake produced a tsunami that ran inland almost 150 meters (490 feet) in the low parts of the coast of Yabucoa. This quake caused damage in numerous buildings on the Island, especially in the eastern zone.

Translated from "Terremoto," written by Jose Molinelli Freytes, Puerto Rico Civil Defense, under the auspices of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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