The Best Documentaries About Earthquakes

Jul 17, 2023 | Best Of, Disaster, Nature

Natural catastrophes such as floods, droughts and diseases may not be the leading causes of death today, but devastating earthquakes can still claim many lives. In fact, two of the deadliest years in recent history were 2004 and 2010 – both involving catastrophic earthquakes that caused tens of thousands of deaths. Earthquakes accounted for 93 percent and 69 percent respectively, showing how dangerous they can be. It’s clear that while we have become more robust to natural disasters overall, there is still much to learn about mitigating the effects of an earthquake – making it all the more important to study them closely. Here are some of the worst earthquakes from recent times which highlight this very issue.


Deadliest Earthquakes

In the year 2010, a catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti, leaving behind a trail of destruction and devastation. Over 200,000 lives were lost and countless buildings were reduced to rubble. Among the ruins, a team of U.S. geologists embarked on a mission to document the aftermath of this tragedy.






The Earthquake (2015)

Amidst the ruins and devastation caused by Nepal’s deadliest earthquake in over 80 years, a glimmer of hope shines through. In their powerful documentary, Tim Scott and William Decker capture the resilience and strength of the Nepalese people as they rebuild their shattered homes and lives.




Disaster by the Bay: The Great San Francisco Fire and Earthquake of 1906 (2006)

Join us on a journey through the devastation and resilience of one of America’s greatest disasters – the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906. Through never-before-seen footage captured just moments after the quake hit, coupled with rare photographs and recreations of firsthand experiences, this poignant documentary brings to life the chaos and bravery in the wake of destruction.





13:14. The Challenge of Helping (2022)

Juanpa Zurita, a rising star in the world of social media, embarked on a mission to make a difference after witnessing the devastating aftermath of the 2017 earthquake that struck Ocuilan. With his vast following and influence, he saw an opportunity to use his platform for good and help rebuild this small town near Mexico City.







The 12 Best Documentaries About Earthquakes


1. The Lisbon Earthquake

The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 was a devastating event that shook the city and changed lives forever. On the morning of November 1st, violent shaking destroyed large public structures and around 12,000 houses. All Saints’ Day worships were tragically interrupted when churches collapsed due to seismic stress, killing or wounding hundreds of people in attendance. In total, an estimated 60,000 people perished as a result of this earthquake—making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in history. This video chronicles what happened on that fateful day and sheds light on its lasting effects throughout Europe.


2. The Great Alaska Earthquake

Discover the incredible story of the 1964 Alaska Earthquake, one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in North America. From its epicenter in Prince William Sound to Seattle’s Space Needle swaying 1,200 miles away, this seismic event left a lasting mark on history and science. Learn about how it changed our understanding of subduction earthquakes and what we can do to reduce their destruction. This documentary is an educational journey into one of nature’s greatest catastrophes!


3. The Most Devastating Earthquakes In History

Earthquakes have the power to cause massive destruction in a matter of seconds. But what exactly makes them so devastating? In this documentary series, we take an in-depth look at some of history’s deadliest earthquakes and explore their roles in shaping the present. From tectonic shifts that send seismic waves across the planet to catastrophic effects on our environment, we examine these disasters’ killer characteristics and discuss how modern predictions can help us prepare for future quakes. Learn about the true power of nature with this insightful documentary series!


4. Most Powerful Earthquake in the World Ever

Japan is a country with a long and tragic history of earthquakes. Every year, over 1,500 quakes shake the island nation – some minor vibrations, but others powerful enough to cause devastating destruction. On September 1st 1923, one such earthquake hit Tokyo with an unimaginable force of 7.9 magnitude on the Richter scale. The quake caused carnage throughout the Kanto area and killed 142,800 people making it one of the worst in history. This video takes you through Japan’s most powerful earthquake ever and explores what makes this country so prone to seismic activity. Learn about tectonic plates that grind together beneath Japan’s surface causing catastrophic earthquakes like March 11th 9 magnitude quake – Don’t miss out on this incredible documentary!


5. What Causes The World’s Deadliest Tsunamis?

The world’s deadliest tsunamis are caused by a combination of factors. From earthquakes measuring over 7.0 on the Richter scale, to volcanic eruptions and underwater landslides – all can create powerful waves that cause catastrophic destruction and loss of life. In this documentary, we explore what causes these natural disasters and how they can be prevented in the future. Learn more about how tsunamis form and why they pose such a threat to coastal communities around the world!


6. The Worst Earthquakes And Tornadoes In Modern History

Earthquakes and tornadoes are two of the most destructive natural disasters that can strike with no warning. In this video, we explore some of history’s worst earthquakes and tornadoes, uncovering what makes them so unpredictable and powerful. From the destruction they cause to the scientists trying to understand them better, learn everything you need to know about these mega disasters in this documentary!


7. MegaQuake: Hour That Shook Japan

In 2011, Japan was rocked by an earthquake and resulting tsunami. This documentary takes you through the experience with exclusive footage from Sendai and Tokyo as well as first-person accounts of that fateful day. Scientists explore if this Ring of Fire cataclysm could be a warning for other Pacific Northwest United States disasters in the future. Get an inside look at what happened in Japan on that MegaQuake: Hour That Shook Japan!


8. Biggest Volcanic Eruptions & Disastrous Earthquakes

The world is full of natural disasters that have caused immense destruction and chaos. In this video, we explore some of the biggest volcanic eruptions and disastrous earthquakes ever recorded. From Montserrat’s devastating eruption to Eyjafjallajökull blocking air traffic in Europe, these events are a reminder of nature’s power. We also look at Mount Nyiragongo in Congo, Merapi eruption in Indonesia and Yellowstone’s supervolcano – all equally destructive forces of nature. Watch now for an overview of our planet’s most catastrophic natural occurrences!


9. The Turkey-Syria earthquakes and their aftermath

On 6 February, two devastating earthquakes hit the Turkish-Syrian border region. Tens of thousands of people lost their lives in this tragedy that was not only caused by a natural disaster but also due to political failures. In this video, we explore the geologists’ warnings for an earthquake in the area and why those warnings were ignored. We also look into why rescue and relief operations started off slowly despite an international response and how the ongoing conflict in Syria further exacerbated the humanitarian crisis. Finally, we discuss which border crossings remain open for aid convoys after nearly 12 years of war.


10. What Would Happen If 9.2 Earthquake Hits?

Ever wondered what would happen if a 9.2 earthquake hit? In this documentary, you’ll dive deep into the history and science of earthquakes and explore why the next big one might not be where you expect. Learn about some of the most destructive earthquakes in U.S. history and how they shaped our current understanding of seismic activity today!


11. Sichuan’s Devastating 2008 Earthquake

In 2008, an earthquake of devastating proportions struck China’s Sichuan province. Five million buildings were destroyed, and over 80,000 people lost their lives – many of them children due to the failure of school construction. In response to this tragedy, an international team began a search through the rubble in 2009 for clues as to what caused such destruction. The findings from their investigation may help save lives during future natural disasters. This documentary follows the journey of these brave individuals as they uncover vital information that could help protect us all from similar tragedies in years ahead.


12. Future of Earth’s Continents – Earthquakes & Volcanos

Earth’s continents are constantly shifting, with tectonic plates crashing together and breaking apart to create new landmasses. This phenomenon can have a major impact on our planet’s future, leading to the formation of a new supercontinent called Pangaea Proxima in 250 million years’ time! In this video we explore the groundbreaking idea that Alfred Wegener proposed 100 years ago – that the continents move around – as well as what changes might take place over the next 50 million years. Get ready for an incredible journey through Earth’s past, present and future!

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David B