1843 Guadeloupe earthquake

The 1843 Guadeloupe earthquake occurred at 10:37 local time on 8 February in the island of Guadeloupe in the Lesser Antilles.[3] It had an estimated magnitude (scale unspecified) of 8.5, making it the strongest recorded earthquake in the Caribbean and a maximum perceived intensity of shaking of IX on the Mercalli intensity scale.[2] The earthquake was felt widely throughout the Caribbean and as far away as New York.[3] Around 1,500 to 5,000 people were killed.[2][1]

1843 Guadeloupe earthquake
1843 Guadeloupe earthquake is located in Middle America
1843 Guadeloupe earthquake
Local date8 February 1843
Local time10:37 AM
Magnitude8.5 Muk  (est.)[2]
Epicenter16°30′N 62°12′W / 16.5°N 62.2°W / 16.5; -62.2[1]
Max. intensityIX (Violent)
Tsunami1.2 meters

Tectonic settingEdit

The Lesser Antilles are an island arc formed above the destructive plate boundary where the North American Plate is being subducted beneath the Caribbean Plate at a rate of about 2 cm per year. Historical earthquakes in this region include large megathrust earthquakes on the plate interface, such as those in 1839 and 1843, and smaller intraplate earthquakes within the arc itself, associated with oblique convergence on the plate boundary.[2]


The magnitude of the earthquake was calculated in the range 7.5–8.0 by Bernard & Lambert in 1988. This was reassessed in 2011 by Feuillet and others, giving an 8.5 magnitude.[2] Later work by Hough in 2013, taking account of reports of the earthquake from the US, supported a magnitude of at least 8.5 for this event.[3]


On Guadeloupe, Pointe-à-Pitre suffered severe damage with a maximum of 8–900 houses being destroyed of the 1,222 that existed before the earthquake.[4] The earthquake was quickly followed by fires that caused further destruction.[5]

The island of Antigua was also badly affected, with all churches and mills throughout the island reported destroyed. Forty deaths were reported. Damage was also reported from Montserrat, with six casualties.[5]


On Antigua, a rise in sea level by 1.2 meters was interpreted as run-up from the tsunami triggered by the quake. A wharf on the southeast part of the island sank and took on an "undulating appearance".[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b National Geophysical Data Center / World Data Service (NGDC/WDS): NCEI/WDS Global Significant Earthquake Database. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (1972). "Significant Earthquake Information". NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. doi:10.7289/V5TD9V7K. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e Feuillet N.; Beauducel F.; Tapponnier P. (2011). "Tectonic context of moderate to large historical earthquakes in the Lesser Antilles and mechanical coupling with volcanoes". Journal of Geophysical Research. 116 (B10): B10308. Bibcode:2011JGRB..11610308F. doi:10.1029/2011JB008443. hdl:10220/8653.
  3. ^ a b c Hough S.E. (2013). "Missing great earthquakes". Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. 118 (3): 1098–1108. Bibcode:2013JGRB..118.1098H. doi:10.1002/jgrb.50083. S2CID 128458643.
  4. ^ Deville, Charles (1843). Tremblement de terre à la Guadeloupe le 8 février 1843 (in French). Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe (published July 1843). p. 52.
  5. ^ a b Various (1843). The Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle for 1843. pp. 277–279. ISBN 978-1-108-05435-5.
  6. ^ Robson, G. R. (1964). "An earthquake catalogue for the Eastern Caribbean 1530-1960". Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 54 (2): 785–832. Bibcode:1964BuSSA..54..785R. doi:10.1785/BSSA0540020785.