1773 Guatemala earthquake

Coordinates: 14°36′N 90°42′W / 14.6°N 90.7°W / 14.6; -90.7
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1773 Guatemala earthquake
A damaged convent near Volcán de Agua
1773 Guatemala earthquake is located in Central America
Antigua Guatemala
Antigua Guatemala
1773 Guatemala earthquake
Local dateJuly 29, 1773 (1773-07-29)
Local time15:45
Magnitude~7.5 Mi
Epicenter14°36′N 90°42′W / 14.6°N 90.7°W / 14.6; -90.7
Areas affectedAt or near Antigua Guatemala
Max. intensityVII (Very strong) - VIII (Severe)
Casualties500–600 fatalities

The 1773 Guatemala earthquake struck colonial Guatemala on July 29 at 15:45 local time.[1] It had an estimated epicentral magnitude of 7.5 Mi.[2] It was part of a sequence that started in May that year. There were two strong foreshocks on June 11 and the mainshock was followed by numerous aftershocks which lasted until December 1773.[1] The series of all these earthquakes is also referred to as the Santa Marta earthquake(s) as it had started on the feast day of Saint Martha.

With an intensity of approximately VII (Very strong) to VIII (Severe) on the Mercalli intensity scale,[2] the Santa Marta earthquakes destroyed much of Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala (modern Antigua Guatemala), which was at that time the colonial capital of Central America. About 500–600 people died immediately and at least another 600 died from starvation and disease as a result of the earthquake.[2] The event had significant impact on the number of religious personnel in the area, especially the Mercedarian Order, with the count reduced almost by half and a similar reduction in the amount of income received.[3]

Relocation of the capital[edit]

Spanish authorities had previously considered moving the capital to a different location after the devastation of the 1717 Guatemala earthquake and decided after the 1773 event not to rebuild the city again. In 1776 the capital was moved to the new city of Guatemala of Asuncion, known today as Guatemala City.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Espinosa A.F. (1976). "The Guatemalan earthquake of February 4, 1976, a preliminary report" (PDF). Geological Survey Professional Paper. United States Government Printing Office. pp. 7, 88. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  2. ^ a b c d William I. Rose; Julian J. Bommer; Dina L. Lopez; Michael J. Carr; Jon J. Major, eds. (June 2004). Natural Hazards in El Salvador. Geological Society of America. p. 394. ISBN 978-0-8137-2375-4.
  3. ^ Nancy Johnson Black (1997). The Frontier Mission and Social Transformation in Western Honduras: The Order of Our Lady of Mercy, 1525–1773. Brill Academic Pub. p. 85. ISBN 978-90-04-10219-4.