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EARTHQUAKE WAVE IN THE SEA.

The town of Lyttelton was on Saturday morning thrown into a state of great excitement owing to a most extraordinary rise and fall of the water in the harbour. There can be but little doubt that the shores of New Zealand have either been visited by one of the earthquake waves which are not uncommon in the Pacific, and which have been known to submerge some of the Islands there, or that a tremendous submarine eruption has taken place. We learn from Mr Webb, night watchman on the railway, the following particulars. He states that at 4 o'clock he noticed the John Knox barque lying on her starboard broadside, and her yards nearly touching the jetty alongside of which she was discharging her cargo. He immediately gave an alarm and aroused Captain Jenkins who came on deck, and on looking over the side he saw that the harbour from the wharf to Officer's Point was quite dry, and that all the vessels and boats were high and dry ; he called Webb's attention to this, and they both noted the fact that the harbour was empty. Ia a few minutes their attention was directed to a noise resembling thunder, or a strong wind, coming from off Officer's Point; there was no wind at the time on shore. On looking they saw an inlineJse wave coming up the harbour and making its way towards the head of the bay. In a few minutes it was surging round the vessels, tearing them from the different wharves, aud breaking their warps like twine. It caught the John Knox, barque, aud dashed her against the screw-pile-jetty, carrying away her starboard quarter, and snapping lifer best bower cable, also the 8-inch hawsers, which held her to the wharf. The ketch Margaret lying on the beach near the Government wharf had her warps carried away, and on the rebound of the wave she was carried into the harbour, where she fouled the schooner Anuis Brown, carrying away her own bulwarks, staunchions, and mainmast and also doing some damage to the schooner. The schooner Jeanic Duncan, which has only just received a thorough overhaul was lying at the Railway wharf alongside the p.s. Novelty, The former litis sustained considerable damage, and the Novelty had her bulwarks and staunchions from the fore to the nwu rigging destroyed; her boat was .also broken and drifted under the screw-pile jetty, The drawback out of the harbour took the Novelty down as far as Gollan's Bay where she tried to bring up, but her best bower anchor and chain snapped; by this time, however, she had steam up, and was able to steam against it. For some hours the tide kept rising and falling rapidly. At 6 a.m. the tide was below low water mark, and iu a quarter of an hour afterwards, it was above high water mark; the current was fearful, and the water surged round the vessels like a whirlpool. As instances of the effects of this remarkable phenomenon upon the shipping, we may mention that the ship Coleroon spun round like a top, aud the schooner Dove came up the harbour as fast as a steamer, dead against a westerly breeze, with all canvas on her. The current afterwards swept her broadside on for two miles up the harbour, he tore she was able to got steering way. At half past 9 o'clock another roller caine into the harbour and again caught the John Knox, which was, atthattime, on the mud; in a few miuutes her warps had parted, and the vessel was swung round, fortunately clear of the wharf. The tide again commenced to rise and fall rapidly sometimes 3 feet in five miuutes, At 10.30 the Pilot boat crew arrived from the Heads, but it appears from their statement they had noticed nothing uncommon, only that the tide was very high; the keeper from the quarantine ' station also came up, but he had not , noticed anything, except that at G. 30 the , J"™ w,ls lower by a hundred yards than lie ' had ever seen it. I , Ir Mitchell, Gollan's Bay, states that at r half-past 3 a.m. lie heard an unusual noise, and j at the same time the house was shaken as it' , b) an eaithquake. The watch on board the j J»»Tq«c A. 11. Badger, state they heard, an hour previous to the wave coming in, three distinct noises like rushing wind. From the ' Ollicev on board the Coleroon, wc lcani that at 3 o clock the water commenced

rushing out of the harbour at the rate of lsj knots an hour, and left the vessel on the mud bottom; at 4 p.m. the vessel gave a tremendous lurch, and commenced going round like a top, just as if the vessel was in a w'nirpool and it continued until 8 o'clock. We also learn that the ketch Georgina is wrecked in Rhodes' Bay and that the schooner Onehunga fouled the Antelope cutter, carrying away her fltaunchions and bulwarks from the rigging.aft, The large buoy off Officer Point was carried into Dampier Iky, At H o'clock the steamer Taranaki entered the Heads, and as she stopped there some time it was feared there might be something wrong, as she was seen broadside on, It timed out' however, that she stopped to pick up a hatch covering belonging to some large vessel; she also passed a full rigged mast outside the Heads, Captain Francis informs us that hr saw no signs o£ any eruption during the passage.

The following is the report of Captain Jenkins of the John Knox -.—At MO I hoard a great noise, and the ship went down on her beam ends. I got on deck with difficulty and found the ship lying with her yard armn on the wharf. I eould not imagine what wa« the mathr, when hearing a noise like the rushing of a great body of water, or a strong wind, I looked out into the harbour. It was a'l dry as far as the breakwater, and a wave was rolling in about 8 feet high ; it came up against the ship with great force. A few minuter afterwards it rebounded, and caught the ships'bow,carrying away two parts of ai 8 inch warp and the best bower cable which was shackled on to the wharf, dragging the anchor home with 60 fathoms cable. In 15 or 20 minute. 1 ) after the wave came in the water was within 2 feet of the top of the wharf and in less than, half an hour the ship was dry again. The water ran in and out at intervals until 10 am when anothgr rush broke three parts of her stern warp; the ship swinge round-again clear of the wharf. Captain Gibson sent his boat and crew with the Government warp, making it fast to the buoy, and passing both ends on board ship by bo doing the ship was kept head and stem to the current. The starboard quarter is knocked in by being dashed up against the jetty by the wave.

On Saturday afternoon the water continued in a very perturbed state, the current running very strong in and outof the harbour, It was with great difficulty that the watermen could get off to the steamer Taranak', the hoats being carried by the current up and down the harbour. We also learn that the jetty, 300 feet long, at the head of the bay has been carried away, and that Mr Manson's paddocks have been flooded The Comerang, from Timaru, arrived in harbour yesterday morning. The following is the Captain's reportAt Timaru, on the morning of the 15th instant, about 5 o'clock the men at the old Government landing service, whilst in the act of preparing to launch a cargo boat in order to come off to the Comerang, were washed up on the beach by a sudden rise of the sea-about six feet, which in the course of 5 minutes fell to a lower level than lias ever been witnessed at Timaru. The sea rose and fell on the beach rapidly for the space of 4 hours with a strong current changing with the rise and fall of tide. In the offiog, the Comerang narrowly escaped parting from her anchors through a succession of whirlpools, causing the vessel to turn round very frequently. There were no signs of any eruption during the passage. Yesterday afternoon the tide bad not returned to its ordinary state, and there was still a strong current in the harbour.

We-have been favoured with the following observations of the tidal action in Lyttelton harbour:—At 11.30 p.m., on Saturday, the water was half flood; it stood at this some time; at 12.30 a.m., on Sunday, it rose to the usual high water mark; at I a.m., it fell back to half ebb; at 2.15, the tide' was 18 inches higher than the usual high water mark; at 3.30, it fell back to half ebb; at 4.G0, it was tfgh tide again; after this, the water gradually fell back; at 6 a.m., it was down to low water mark, making three times high water in six hours; at noon, it was high water; at 1 p.m., the water dropped suddenly four feet; at 2.15, the tide rose higher than usual, covering the reef. The agitation is still (6 p.m.) going on.

KAIAPOI. On Saturday morning, at about 3 a.m., two hours after ebb, an immense wave, about 4 feet in height, rushed up the Waimakariri. The s.s. Gazelle, lying at Belcher _ and Co.'s wharf, broke her stern line and swung round, hanging on however by the bow line, which happened to be a new rope. 'I lie large schooner Challenge next broke away from Revell and Co's wharf, came into collision with the Gazelle, and sustained considerable damage. The crew, aroused from sleep, had just time to let go the auchors to avoid a collision with the bridge. The William and Julia was lifted on to the bauk, but sustained no injury. The Nora and Dart, lying at Birch and Co.'s wharf, also broke adrift at first, but. were brought up with no damage, except to the ropes, which parted. The first wave came up at about 3, and was followed by two others, at intervals of about a quart :r----of-an-hour; aud, up to 4 o'clock, seven in all, not of such magnitude as the first two or three, had rushed up the river; one, which came up at about S p.m., down by Harris' Island, was considerably above the banks, although its force prevented it overflowing; coming up like a lme of breakers, the greater part of it passed up the south branch, sweeping floating things up stream at a great pace; this" was shortly succeeded by a backwash quite as rapid; were it not for this branch taking a very large share of the wave, the consequences iu the town must have been most disastrous. It is most fortunate that it did not occur at high water, or in all probability we should have more serious consequences on land as well as iu the river to record; as it was, people were looking with some anxiety for the rising of the tide. The waves continued to come up the river at intervals during the day, doing some damage to the sheet piling of the "breakwater at the Blind Creek, and tossing the shipping about a good deal at the wharves, a wave, which came up at about 11 a.m., smashing the dingy of the Nora schooner to pieces. The waves did not come up with such force when the tide rose higher, owing probably to their being able to "spread over the rush beds. The Gazelle got up steam and proceeded (o moorings at a more roomv part of the river. The bar has shifted, and has now a channel about a quarter of a mile further North, and is not safe to attempt at present. During Saturday night and on Sunday small waves continued to reach the town.

PIGKOX HAY. We nro indebted to Mr G. It. Ilolmes for the following The overseer was awoke by a rumbling noise about 4 o'clock on the morning of the 15th inst., which he thought was the commencement of :i storm, hut looking out and seeing that the sky was perfectly clear, and there was no sign of any rough 'weather, he took no more notice of it.

On going down to work at 7 a.m., he found that some things he had placed above high water mark the previous evening, had been washed away ; and on looking round him, he discovered that the tide had risen 4ft higher than the highest high water mark.

Going dowu to the water's edge he perceived that it was considerably lower than the ordinary low watermark ; presently, he saw the water coming in with a prat rush, and in ten minutes it was a foot higher than the ordinary high water mars.

I had just conic down to ilie beach when the water was returning, when he met me and told me all the facts 1 have ivl: ied ; lie also told me that a great many Jrings belonging to a vessel at (hat time filing repaired, were washed away. On going round the bench we were surprised to sec tish of all descriptions lying about, haying been Ihrown up by the water. All this time the water kept rising and falling about 5 J'eet every half-hour, until 10 minutes lo 10 a.m., when it commenced to rush in very quickly,and it rose 4 leei above highest high water murk. At 20 minutes past 10 a.m. it fell equally fast, and was at

its lowest point at 10.35.; again at 11.15 a.m. the water came in with a tremendous rush, carrying away a small jetty, and some garden fencing, which was about 4 feet above high water mark, and also destroying a great number of choice garden trees. At 10 minutes to 12 it retired to its lowest point. Advancing again, it came in with greater force than any of the previous waves, carrying away a boat-house, more garden fencing, and 40,000 feet of timber, stacked 5 feet above highest high water mark. At 5 minutes past 12 the water retired once more. At 40 minutes past 12, the water having risen 7 feet above the ordinary high water mark, carried away another jetty, also the ketch Courier, 30 tons, which was brought back within a few feet of her old berth by the next rush at 5 minutes past 1 p.m. After this the water continued to rise and fall at intervals of about three-quarters of an hour, and each wave got smaller as the tide retired.

[by submarine telegraph,] The following particulars were received from Wellington on Saturday Bluff.—Tide higher last night than ever known before. Between 8 and 9 this morning there was a terrific rush of water. The tide was very high, and it was not high water till 10.27. Large bodies of kelp were washed in, and all buoys were carried some distance up the harbour. At 11 the tide fell 19 inches in 20 minutes, and rose again a short time after. Port Chalmers.—At 10 a.m. the water rose 1 foot at flood-tide, and fell in a few minutes. Three of the buoys in the channel drifted from their position. The large ships at anchor abreast of the Maori village swung round their anchors three times in one tide, with an eddy tide where no eddies have been seen before. It will be high water at 1.40. At present (1.7), the tide continues to rise and fall about 7 inches, at the rate of 2 inches per minute. Oamabd.—At 11.50 a.m. an extraordinary change in the sea level was observed, The tide was rising and falling 15 feet perpendicularly at intervals of 15 minutes, and receding eight or nine feet perpendicularly below low water mark. The agitation is still going on.

White's Bat.—At 10 a.m. and 10,20 a.m., there was a sudden recession of the sea about 40 yards down the beach from the usual tide mark. It rose again suddenly. A heavy iwell and surf rolling in. High and low tides alternately all the morning. Tbe beach is a level one.

PiCTON. —Nothing unusual in the tide. Nelson.—The pilot reports that at high water at 6.30 a.m., the tide was as usual up to 7,55, when it commenced to run in again at a most rapid rate, going over the Boulder bank. Up to 8 a,m. the rise of water was about 5 feet. The water is all over the harbour, which is much troubled. Wellington.—Since daylight the tide has been alternately rising and falling very rapidly. At 10 a.m. it rose 30 inches in ten minutes, falling three feet as rapidly. This still continues (1.55 p.m.) with tide very high.

Castle Point.—The tide last night was higher than it has been for ten years, with one exception. It will not be high water today till 2 p.m., but the tide is now (11.53 a.m.) as high as ordinary high water. Napieb.—At 10 a.m. the tide rose higher and fell lower in ten minutes, in the Iron Pot, than has ever been known before.

Hokitika.—No particular disturbance has been noticed.

The following communication from Dr Haast, dated Saturday night, will be rend with interest : TO THE EDITOB OF THE LTTTELTON TIMES. Sib,—l need scarcely apologise for offering you a few observations on the remarkable disturbance in the sea level at experienced today in Lyttelton harbour, and in other localities on the coast of New Zealand, because in doing so, I hope to throw Borne light upon the causes by which this curious phenomenon has been brought about. I wish also to dispel some errors concerning it which are, as it seems, current among many of my fellow-citizens. In the first instance, it is no l as your contemporary the Star of this evening states, " A Great Tidal-wave," but without doubt an earthquake wave in the sea, such as is commonly observed in the adjacent seas, wherever any earthquake of consequence takes place, and followed in many instances by a volcanic eruption in or near the focus of the former.

Although the shock transmitted through the earth's crust, travels mucli faster than the sea wave takes to reach the same distance, the latter is still of 6uch a velocity that it travels at the rate of several miles in a minute, consequently, if the disturbance UDder review were the result of the volcanic phenomena observed a few months ago in the Sandwich Islands, bs suggested in the same paper, it would have reached us the very lame day. In confirmation of this assertion, I may be allowed to add a few facts which will shew you that only a short time is needed for the transmission of such waves over great distances. During the great earthquake of Lisbon on the Ist of Nov. 1755, the shocks travelling through the earth, arrived in Madeira from the focus near Lisbon in 25 minutes (535 nautical miles), whilst the sea wave took 2 hours and f> minutes more before it reached the same locality. In several islands in the West Indies, where the tide has only a rise of 2ft to 3ft, the Bearose suddenly more than 20ft the same day.

The earthquake at Valdivia, in Chili, on the 7th November, 1837, which was remarkable for its violence as well as for its great extent, caused violent agitations in the sea at Gambier's Islands, Tahiti, the Navigators Islands and Vavao Island*, which consisted of repeated rising and falling of the surface of the sea. At the Vavao Islands these movements occurred on the Bth November, and continued every ten minutes for 36 hourß.

At the island of Opolu, one of the Navigators Islands, continuous earthquakes were felt on the 7th and Bth November, after which the oscillations of the sea took place. At Awahu, one of the Sandwich Islands, the fluctuations of the sea occurred on the 7th November, and lasted during the whole night and till noon of the following day.

At Hawaii also the water fell nine feet in a very short time, and then rose suddenly 20 feet above high water mark. At the great earthquake which destroyed a Russian frigate in the harbour of Hmoda, Japan, on the 23rd December, 1854, this harbour was emptied and filled several times by advancing and receding waves. In San Francisco, 4800 Knglish miles from the scene of the earthquake, the colossal wave arrived 12 hours 16 minutes after it had left the harbour of fiiinoda, so that it must have moved at the rate of 6j English miles in a minute over the ocean. The first wave caused a rise in the surface of the sea at San Francisco, which lasted half an hour. It was followed by seven smaller waves with intervals of an hour between. In San Diego the same phenomenon was observed, only the waves there came in later, and raised the surface of the water less.

I may here add that no earthquake was felt at San Francisco, and thus the great disturbance of the ocean near that town would have remained unexplained had the focus of the earthquake been in the high seas below the level of the Pacific ocean, or on an island on the shores of a Continent inhabited by savages only. It is consequently possible that we never may become acquainted With the primary cause of the phenomenon Observed to-day ; fit the same time we do as yet possess 100 few reliable data for deduction or gw:cfiilis;tion, hut I have no doubt that as soon as all the material is collected, we may be able to advance some steps towards the elucidation of this remarkable occurrence. But i m;y already state that all the news which reached us from the various ports of both i: :ands, lead us to the conclusion that the focus of this disturbance lies in an Easterly direction.

from the telegrams already received, it is evident ilmt ihe phenomena observed in the variou-s j arts nf the East coast happened not only at different hours, but also in a greater

or leßser degree of magnitude. Thie difference may be easily "accounted for by the dlreotion of the earthquake wave, the eonfiguration of the coast, the form of the harbours and bayi, the greater or lesser shallowness of the shores, and the depth of the sea & little distance off.

_ General observations have already sufficiently shown, in raitny. parts of the world, that earthquake waves in the sea reach the coast with much less violence, when the shores are steep, and deep water is close by ; whilst at the head of long shallow bays their effeot is very great and destructive. I have also heard that several persons experienced a slight shock of an earthquake this morning, between 3 and 4 o'clock; one single perpendicular shock, apparently travelling from S.W. to N.E., accompanied by a slight subterranean rumbling sound. And I only regret that no seismometer has been placed anywhere in town to obtain conclusive confirmation of such an occurrence and of its direction.

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Bibliographic details

EARTHQUAKE WAVE IN THE SEA., Lyttelton Times, Volume XXX, Issue 2387, 17 August 1868

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EARTHQUAKE WAVE IN THE SEA. Lyttelton Times, Volume XXX, Issue 2387, 17 August 1868

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