Contemporary documents from the Archivo General de Indias, Seville (Spain), have been used to determine the parameters and damage produced by the earthquake of San Salvador of 21 April 1594. The responses to two official questionnaires sent after the occurrence of the earthquake, the first such questionnaires in the Western Hemisphere, give considerable information about the earthquake, damage, casualties, losses, and the subsequent reconstruction of the city. The earthquake took place at dawn; it was preceded by foreshocks and followed by aftershocks. Maximum intensity has been estimated as IX–X (European Macroseismic Scale), corresponding to a shock of Ms between 6 and 7. The city took many years to recover from the damage.

Online material: Questionnaires on the damage from the 21 April 1594 San Salvador earthquake (Spanish with English translations).

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