1995 Neftegorsk earthquake

The 1995 Neftegorsk earthquake occurred on 28 May at 1:04 local time[5] on northern Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East.[6] It was the most destructive earthquake known within the current territory of Russia,[7] with a magnitude of Ms  7.1 and maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent)[8] that devastated the oil town of Neftegorsk, where 2,040 of its 3,977 citizens were killed, and another 750 injured.[9]

90% of the victims were killed by the collapse of 17 five-story residential buildings.[10] While Western media generally attributed the collapses to allegedly poor construction and shoddy materials of Soviet-era construction,[11] a geotechnical study faulted a failure to accommodate the possibility of soil liquefaction in an area that was considered "practically aseismic".[12]

The Belgian Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters' EM-DAT database places the total damage at $64.1 million, while the United States' National Geophysical Data Center assesses the damage at $300 million.[3]

1995 Neftegorsk earthquake monument at the Yuzhno Sakhalinsk 1
1995 Neftegorsk earthquake monument in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

This quake was not only catastrophic, it was totally unexpected: earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 6 were not known to occur in the area of northern Sakhalin Island.[13] It is also of great scientific interest (some 20 papers have been published[14]) because it occurred near a poorly known tectonic plate boundary where the Okhotsk Plate (connected with North American Plate) is crashing into the Amurian Plate (part of the Eurasian Plate),[15] and indicates that the plate boundary is associated with a north-south striking seismic belt that runs the length of Sakhalin. More precisely, this earthquake occurred on the Upper Piltoun fault (also known as the Gyrgylan'i—Ossoy fault[16]), which branches off the main Sakhalin-Hokkaido fault that runs along the east side of the island.[17]

35 km (22 mi) of surface rupturing was observed (46 km including a branching fault), with an estimated average lateral displacement of about 4 meters, but up to 8 m (9 yd) in some places.[18] (This compares to 14 km of slip estimated to have accumulated on the Sakhalin-Hokkaido fault in the last 4 million years.[19]) The unusual strength of this quake and length of rupturing, and the low level of seismic activity before hand, has been attributed to the accumulation of strain over a long period of time on a locked fault segment.[20]

1995 Neftegorsk earthquake
1995 Neftegorsk earthquake is located in Far Eastern Federal District
1995 Neftegorsk earthquake
UTC time1995-05-27 13:03:53
ISC event106336
Local date27 May 1995
Local time1:04 a.m. local time
MagnitudeMs (HRV)  7.1 [1]
Depth11.0 km (7 mi) [2]
Epicenter52°38′N 142°50′E / 52.63°N 142.83°ECoordinates: 52°38′N 142°50′E / 52.63°N 142.83°E
TypeStrike-slip [3]
Areas affectedSakhalin, Russian Far East
Total damage$64.1–300 million [3]
Max. intensityIX (Violent)[4]
Casualties1,989 dead [3]
750 injured [3]

See also


  1. ^ ISC-EB Event 106336 [IRIS] ANSS reports this as Mwb  7.1.
  2. ^ ISC-EHB Event 106336 [IRIS].
  3. ^ a b c d e USGS (September 4, 2009), PAGER-CAT Earthquake Catalog, Version 2008_06.1, United States Geological Survey
  4. ^ ISC-EHB Event 106336 [IRIS].
  5. ^ Klyachko 2001, p. 1.
  6. ^ ANSS: Sakhalin 1995.
  7. ^ Arefiev et al. 2000, p. 595.
  8. ^ ISC-EHB Event 106336 [IRIS]. The ANSS: Sakhalin 1995 reviewed value on the Mwb scale is also 7.1. Some sources have reported the magnitude as Ms   7.6.
  9. ^ Earth Chronicles (2016) attributes the fatality numbers to the Russian Ministry of Emergencies. The ISC, without citing a source, says "[a]s many as 1,989 people killed" (ISC-EHB Event 106336 [IRIS]). Other sources attribute the "more than 2000" number to Japanese language sources.
  10. ^ Klyachko 2001, p. 1. These buildings housed all but about 650 of the town's residents. Los Angeles Times 1995
  11. ^ Los Angeles Times 1995.
  12. ^ Klyachko 2001, p. 2.
  13. ^ Arefiev et al. 2000, pp. 595, 605.
  14. ^ ISC-EB Event 106336 [IRIS].
  15. ^ Arefiev et al. 2000, p. 595; Katsumata et al. 2004, pp. 117, 129.
  16. ^ Katsumata et al. 2004, p. 117
  17. ^ Arefiev et al. 2000, p. 596.
  18. ^ Arefiev et al. 2000, p. 599.
  19. ^ Arefiev et al. 2000, p. 596.
  20. ^ Arefiev et al. 2000, p. 606.


  • Johnson, M. S. (1998), "The Tale of the Tragedy of Neftegorsk", Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 13 (1): 67–72, PMID 10187029.

External links

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List of 20th-century earthquakes

This list of 20th-century earthquakes is a global list of notable earthquakes that occurred in the 20th century. After 1900 most earthquakes have some degree of instrumental records and this means that the locations and magnitudes are more reliable than for earlier events. To prevent this list becoming unmanageable, only those of magnitude 6 and above are included unless they are notable for some other reason.

List of deadly earthquakes since 1900

The following list compiles known earthquakes that have caused one or more fatalities since 1900. The list incorporates high quality earthquake source (i.e., origin time, location and earthquake magnitude) and fatality information from several sources.

Earthquake locations are taken from the Centennial Catalog and the updated Engdahl, van der Hilst and Buland earthquake catalog, which is complete to December 2005. From January 2006, earthquake locations are from the United States Geological Survey’s Preliminary Determination of Epicenters (PDE) monthly listing. Preferred magnitudes are moment magnitudes taken from the Global Centroid Moment Tensor Database and its predecessor, the Harvard Centroid Moment Tensor Database. Where these magnitude estimates are unavailable, the preferred magnitude estimate is taken from the Centennial Catalog and the PDE.

Five columns of fatality estimates are provided. The first two columns are derived from the PDE monthly catalog and indicate deaths resulting from earthquake shaking only (i.e., from partial or total building collapse), and total fatalities resulting from earthquake shaking and secondary effects, such as tsunami, landslide, fire, liquefaction or other factors (e.g., heart failure). Where these secondary effects are reported, they are indicated by “T”, “L”, “F” or “Lq”, respectively. Fatality estimates in the PDE are generally obtained from official sources (e.g., local or national government officials, humanitarian agencies, emergency management agencies, etc.) or media reports within days to weeks after the earthquake. The PDE catalog is not updated if more detailed information becomes available after its final publication, usually four months after the earthquake.

The third fatality column is taken from the Utsu catalog of deadly earthquakes, and generally represents the total deaths resulting from an earthquake. The Utsu catalog is complete up until late 2003. The fourth column is derived from the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT). EM-DAT has been developed and maintained by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at the Brussels campus of the University of Louvain, Belgium and is a global, multi-hazard (e.g., earthquake, cyclone, drought, flood, volcano, extreme temperatures, etc.) database of human impacts and economic losses. Earthquake source parameters in the EM-DAT are often absent, incomplete, or erroneous. Consequently, several events may be missed in the automated catalog associations. Furthermore, where the impact of an earthquake spans political boundaries, database entries are often subdivided by country. For significant events, the observed fatalities are aggregated and manually associated.

The final fatality column is for other sources of shaking deaths and indicates improved fatality estimates from official reports and detailed scholarly studies, where available.

The death tolls presented below vary widely in quality and in many cases are estimates only, particularly for the most catastrophic events that result in high fatalities. Note that in some cases, fatalities have been documented, but no numerical value of deaths is given. In these cases, fatality estimates are left blank. Many of the events listed with no numerical value are aftershocks where additional fatalities are aggregated with the main shock.

* Most fatalities attributed to tsunami

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