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The Full Impact of the 1964 Megathrust Earthquake

The Full Impact of the 1964 Megathrust Earthquake     

At 5:36 pm on March 27, 1964, the largest earthquake ever recorded in North America, and the second largest in history, rattled coastal Alaska for close to 4 minutes. The magnitude 9.2 quake was just the start of it. Underwater landslides gave way to several local tsunamis that destroyed coastlines from British Columbia to California.

The Great Alaskan Earthquake is a great example of a "megathrust" earthquake. They occur on subduction zones, places in the Earth where part of the crust and upper mantle is being consumed -- pulled by gravity beneath the other side. In the U.S., there are only two places where we can have megathrust earthquakes. The entire Aleutians, from the south coast of Alaska all the way to Kamchatka, is a subduction zone. The other is from Cape Mancinco, about 200 miles north of San Francisco, all the way up to the middle of Vancouver Island, Canada. 

Watch video 

The video features USGS geologist George Plafker who, in the 1960's, correctly interpreted the quake as a subduction zone event. This was a great leap forward in resolving key mechanisms of the developing theory of plate tectonics.

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History of Insurance


1666 – The birth of home insurance was linked to The Great Fire of London, which was estimated to have destroyed almost 90 per cent of the city’s homes.

One of the first iterations of home insurance included the practice of putting a metal plaque called a fire mark in a prominent place on the outside of homes. A fire mark indicated to fire fighters that the building was insured and that saving the building was a priority in the case of a fire.


1804 – The first company to offer insurance in Canada, the Phoenix Assurance Company, opened an office in Montreal.

Fire risk was the biggest insurance concern in the 1800s and early 1900s. As more risks were identified, and interest in insuring against these risks grew, separate policies for each were created. In those days, you would have to purchase separate policies for fire, lightning strikes, earthquakes, theft, etc.

1950 – The primary risk continued to be fire, setting the foundation for the introduction of the modern concept of home insurance.  For the first time, customers can purchase insurance against multiple risks in one all-encompassing policy.