On August 20, 1852, an earthquake caused widespread destruction in the city of Santiago de Cuba and its surroundings. A comprehensive search for contemporary documentation was made. The information gathered was used for a detailed analysis of the damage from and characteristics of the earthquakes. Intensities were evaluated at 45 localities, and an isoseismal scheme has been drawn. Maximum intensity reached 8 degrees (MSK), and 6.4 was the estimated magnitude. Damage to the city of Santiago de Cuba has been studied in detail. The low quality of construction aggravated the damage. The total number of casualties was two dead and approximately 200 injured. The shock was felt within 80,000 km2. The epicenter was determined as 19.75º N, 75.32º W, h = 30 km. This study shows that contemporary Cuban documents must be studied with care in their historical and cultural background to avoid overestimating earthquake intensities.

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