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The 1692 Jamaica earthquake caused Port Royal to almost completely sink

Monday, June 7th 2021, 4:40 am - On this day in weather history, Port Royal, Jamaica, was hit with a devastating earthquake.

Listen to The Weather Network's This Day in Weather History podcast on this topic, here.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by The Weather Network that features stories about people, communities, and events and how weather impacted them.


On Saturday, June 7, 1692, an earthquake struck Port Royal, Jamaica. More specifically, it looks like it occurred at approximately 11:43 a.m, according to a stopped pocket watch found underwater during an archaeological investigation in 1959.

Port Royal was one of the most popular and wealthiest ports in the West Indies. It was frequented by privateers and pirates who did business in the Caribbean Sea.

Port Royal "Old map of Port Royal." Courtesy of Wikipedia

Immediately after the main earthquake, two-thirds of the town sank. At the time, 6,500 people were living in the area. There were around 2,000 buildings that were all constructed on sand.

jamaica earthquake

During the quake, the sand liquefied. This caused the buildings to go right into the sea. The sand started to wave, and opening and closing fissures crushed people. Once the quacking settled, the sand solidified and trapped people.

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The earthquake also caused a tsunami and landslides. The largest landslide was in Judgement Cliff; it displaced the land approximately 800 m.

Overall, the earthquake and the following events killed around 2,000 people. But an additional 3,000 people died in the following days due to earthquake-related injuries and disease.

Once everything settled, the town was partially reconstructed. In 1703, Port Royal was heavily impacted by a fire, and in 1722, a hurricane ravaged the area. Around the late 18th century, for the most part, Port Royal was uninhibited, and sea trade operated out of Kingston.

To learn more about the 1692 Jamaica earthquake, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by The Weather Network that features unique and informative stories from host Chris Mei.

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Thumbnail: Jamaica. Courtesy of Carport/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

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