1920 Haiyuan earthquake

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1920 Haiyuan earthquake
1920 Haiyuan earthquake is located in China
1920 Haiyuan earthquake
Date December 16, 1920 (1920-12-16)
(Gansu-Sichuan Time)
Magnitude 7.8 ML[1]
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Areas affected Haiyuan,
Ningxia Hui Autonimous Region,
Republic of China
Max. intensity XII (Extreme)
Casualties 273,400[2]

1920 Haiyuan earthquake (Chinese: 海原大地震; pinyin: Hǎiyuán dà dìzhèn) occurred on December 16 in Haiyuan County, Ningxia Province, Republic of China. It was also called the 1920 Gansu earthquake [1] because Ningxia was a part of Gansu Province when the earthquake occurred.


The earthquake hit at 20:05:53 Beijing time (12:05:53 UTC),[3] reportedly 7.8 on the Richter magnitude scale, followed by a series of aftershocks for three years. Today's Chinese media claim the earthquake was of magnitude 8.5, although the scale is not specified. It caused total destruction (XII - the maximum intensity on the Mercalli scale) in the Lijunbu-Haiyuan-Ganyanchi area.


Over 73,000 people were killed in Haiyuan County. A landslide buried the village of Sujiahe in Xiji County. More than 30,000 people were killed in Guyuan County. Nearly all the houses collapsed in the cities of Longde and Huining. Damage (VI-X) occurred in 7 provinces and regions, including the major cities of Lanzhou, Taiyuan, Xi'an, Xining and Yinchuan. It was felt from the Yellow Sea to Qinghai (Tsinghai) Province and from Nei Mongol (Inner Mongolia) south to central Sichuan Province.


Total casualties were reported as 200,000 in a summary published by the United States Geological Survey (USGS),[1] and 235,502 according to the Catalog of Damaging Earthquakes in the World (Through 2008) maintained by the International Institute of Seismology and Earthquake Engineering.[2] Many more perished because of cold: frequent aftershocks caused the survivors to fear building anything other than temporary shelters, and a severe winter killed many who had lived through the original earthquake.[4]

The Sufi Jahriyya Muslim Hui leader Ma Yuanzhang and his son died in the earthquake when the roof of the Mosque they were in collapsed in Zhangjiachuan.[5][6]

Ground effects

About 200 km (125 mi) of surface faulting was seen from Lijunbu through Ganyanchi to Jingtai. There were large numbers of landslides and ground cracks throughout the epicentral area. Some rivers were dammed, others changed course. Seiches from this earthquake were observed in 2 lakes and 3 fjords in western Norway.[1]


The Muslim General Ma Fuxiang was involved in relief efforts in Lanzhou during the earthquake.[7][8][9]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Most Destructive Known Earthquakes on Record in the World". Earthquake.usgs.gov. Retrieved 2011-10-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Death Toll of 1920 China Earthquake Higher than Previously Estimated." English.news.cn. Xinhua, 16 Dec. 2010. Web. 27 Dec. 2012.
  3. "Significant earthquake". The Significant Earthquake Database. National Geophysical Data Center. Retrieved 2013-06-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Close, Upton, and Elsie McCormick. "Where the Mountains Walked". National Geographic 41.5 (1922): 445-464: 451.
  5. Jonathan Neaman Lipman (2004). Familiar strangers: a history of Muslims in Northwest China. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 184. ISBN 0-295-97644-6. Retrieved 2010-06-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Center for Asian Studies (1979). Chinese Republican studies newsletter, Volumes 5-7. p. 34. Retrieved 2011-06-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 马福祥--"戎马书生" - 新华网甘肃频道
  8. 缅怀中国近代史上的回族将领马福祥将军戎马一生
  9. 清末民国间爱国将领马福祥__中国甘肃网

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Geological Survey.