UNCANNY THINGS EARTHQUAKES DO.
Since earthquakes began to be studied in the science observatories in the lost fifty years, a mass of extraordinary facts have been collected, many of which have completely stumped the experts to explain. It is an established fact, but not at all understood, that birds and animals can foretell the coming' of an earthquake. Before the disturbances in Chili in 1822 and 1835 immense flocks of sea birds flow screeching about as if crazed with alarm several hours before the shocks began. At the same time it was noticed that all the dogs sneaked out of the doomed city of Talcahuano, and safely reached the open country before the tremors began. Some of the natives of Caracas possess oracular quadrupeds, such as cats, dogs, and jerboas, which seem to have the unaccountable faculty of anticipating coming earthquakes. The natives watch these animals, and whenever they exhibit their peculiar spasms of uneasiness the alarm is sounded,- and the natives flee to the open country. If a parson is out of doors and walking, an earthquake sufficiently strong t© unroof houses and knock down chimneys, may pass unnoticed. Yet a much slighter tremor will terrify any one in the top of a tall building on account of the exaggerated angular movement given by the building’s height.
The surface of the earth has been known to actually move backward and forward a distance of six feet. .When the vibrations are strong enough to cause a greater wave motion th a n this the limit of the earth’s elasticity is exceeded, and the ground breaks in great cracks of im-
mense. depth. Almost all largo earehqfuakes have produced these. It often happens that these fissures are many feet in width. At the Calabrian upheaval of 1783, one oft’ two of the crevices were more than one hundred feet wide and two hundred feet deep. Human beings, animals, houses, and even boats have been swallowed up by these cracks, and fallen to destruction in the bowels of the earth.
Boiling water, noxious fumes, and sometimes- flames belch from the cracks to an immense height. At the time of a former Jamaica earthquake men who had fallen into crevices were later shot up from the depths on a flood of boiling water. Salt water gushed up in Sicily in 1692. Fish were killed along the coast of New Zealand in 1855. Unbearable sulphurous fumes poured out of the ground during the Jamaica earthquake which caused a general sickness from which 3000 persons -died. Wherever these fumes came in- contact with flames they took fire. An intense reddish light sometimes streams- -from these cracks when there is no sign of flames. Lakes- are disturbed during even distant shocks. While Lisbon was being destroyed not only European lakes-, but those in America were agitated by huge waves. The Thames river during the shocks of 1158 dried up for a time so that it could lie crossed on foot even at London.
The baths at Topitz, Bohemia, which are known to have flowed evenly since their discovery, A.D. 762, boiled over at the first shock of the Lisbon earthquake. Then the spring grew muddy, stopped for a minute, belched quantities of red ochre, and finally returned to its original flow.
In wells water often rises to the top and flows over. In other cases they dry up. In Neufchatel many wells filled with mud.
Earthquake lamps are so made that they will go out if upset. In South America many provident people have earthquake coats hanginig near their doors. The pockets are kept stocked with provisions and necessaries for a night spent in the open.
It is estimated that 10,000 earthquakes originate each year, and that half start .under the ocean.
Permanent link to this item
Nature Notes., Southern Cross, Volume 14, Issue 50, 9 February 1907
Nature Notes. Southern Cross, Volume 14, Issue 50, 9 February 1907
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.