Earthquake Information

Chronological Earthquake Index

Santa Barbara Earthquake

TYPE OF FAULTING: uncertain; probably left-lateral reverse
TIME: June 29, 1925 / 6:42 am, PST
LOCATION: 34° 20' N, 119° 48' W 12 km (8 miles) southwest of Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara earthquake of 1925 pointed out one of the problems of the rapid growth of communities in California -- sub-standard construction, often encouraged by the amicable climate, leads to structures which give way all too easily in the shaking of an earthquake. Such was the problem in the Santa Barbara area when the quake of June 29, 1925 struck. Unlike the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, which was accompanied by a fire that led many to confused conclusions about what caused most of the destruction of buildings, the Santa Barbara earthquake produced no fire, and demonstrated clearly the destructive capability of the earthquake alone. In the business district of Santa Barbara, an area of about 36 blocks, only a few structures were not substantially damaged, and many had to be completely demolished and rebuilt.

In all, some $8 million of damage occurred, and 13 deaths were reported in connection with the earthquake. Had the quake occurred when the business district was crowded with merchants and customers, the death toll would likely have been greater.

No foreshocks were reported felt in the early morning hours before the mainshock, but a pressure gauge recording card at the local waterworks showed disturbances beginning at 3:27 a.m., which were likely caused by foreshocks.


An image of the front of Mission Santa Barbara, before the earthquake of 1925. The mission was practically destroyed by an earthquake in December of 1812, and rebuilt by 1820. Since then, it had suffered no serious damage, though it had been shaken in several other events. In the slide show (click the picture or follow the link below), you will see the damage that the earthquake of 1925 inflicted upon the mission, as well as other damage photos of Santa Barbara.

Mission Santa Barbara

Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
The southeast facade of Mission Santa Barbara after the earthquake of 1925.

Potter Theater Building

Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
The partial collapse of the wood-frame/masonry-exterior Potter Theater Building. 

El Camino Real Hotel down

Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Support columns failed, sending the front of the El Camino
Real Hotel down into its parking garage.

More information can be found at the USGS.