IT is the natural and legitimate ambition of a properly constituted geologist to see a glacier, witness an eruption and feel an earthquake. The glacier is always ready, awaiting his visit; the eruption has a course to run, and alacrity only is needed to catch its more important phases; but the earthquake, unheralded and brief, may elude him through his entire lifetime. It had been my fortune to experience only a single weak tremor, and I had, moreover, been tantalized by narrowly missing the great Inyo earthquake of 1872 and the Alaska earthquake of 1899. When, therefore, I was awakened in Berkeley on the eighteenth of April last by a tumult of motions and noises, it was with unalloyed pleasure that I became aware that a vigorous earthquake was in progress. The creaking of the building, which has a heavy frame of redwood, and the rattling of various articles of furniture so occupied my attention that I did not fully differentiate the noises peculiar to the earthquake itself. The motions I was able to analyze more successfully, perceiving that, while they had many directions, the dominant factor was a swaying in the north-south direction, which caused me to roll slightly as I lay with my head toward the east. Afterward I found a suspended electric lamp swinging in the north-south direction, and observed that water had been splashed southward from a pitcher. These notes of direction were of little value, however, except as showing control by the structure of the building, for in another part of the same building the east-west motion was dominant.
- Published by permission of the director of the United States Geological Survey and of the chairman of the California Earthquake Investigation Commission.