A descriptive earthquake catalog of Honduras for the period prior to instrumental data has been compiled from numerous sources. Believed to be the most complete to date, it is the culmination of a detailed review of the literature for earthquakes between the years of 1539 and 1897 A.D. For each catalog entry magnitude ranges and tectonic source provinces were estimated. Available records were not sufficiently detailed to permit the assignment of epicentral locations. Based on estimates of an earthquake's maximum Modified Mercalli intensity, Richter magnitudes for all earthquakes probably ranged from 3 to 8+.

The major earthquakes of this period did not originate within Honduras, but in neighboring tectonic provinces. The most destructive of these was the earthquake of 4 August 1856, estimated to have had a magnitude of 7 to 8+, which caused widespread damage along the Caribbean coast.

Earthquakes within the country were probably associated with Honduran Depression faults. The largest reported event occurred on 14 November 1851 and had an estimated magnitude of 6 to 612.

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