1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Earthquake
EARTHQUAKE. Although the terrible effects which often accompany earthquakes have in all ages forced themselves upon the attention of man, the exact investigation of seismic phenomena dates only from the middle of the 19th century. A new science has been thus established under the name of seismology (Gr. σεισμός, an earthquake).
History.—Accounts of earthquakes are to be found scattered through the writings of many ancient authors, but they are, for the most part, of little value to the seismologist. There is a natural tendency to exaggeration in describing such phenomena, sometimes indeed to the extent of importing a supernatural element into the description. It is true that attempts were made by some ancient writers on natural philosophy to offer a rational explanation of earthquake phenomena, but the hypotheses which their explanations involved are, as a rule, too fanciful to be worth reproducing at the present day. It is therefore unnecessary to dwell upon the references to seismic phenomena which have come down to us in the writings of such historians and philosophers as Thucydides, Aristotle and Strabo, Seneca, Livy and Pliny. Nor is much to be gleaned from the pages of medieval and later writers on earthquakes, of whom the most notable are Fromondi (1527), Maggio (1571) and Travagini (1679). In England, the earliest work worthy of mention is Robert Hooke’s Discourse on Earthquakes, written in 1668, and read at a later date before the Royal Society. This discourse, though containing many passages of considerable merit, tended but little to a correct interpretation of the phenomena in question. Equally unsatisfactory were the attempts of Joseph Priestley and some other scientific writers of the 18th century to connect the cause of earthquakes with electrical phenomena. The great earthquake of Lisbon in 1755 led the Rev. John Michell, professor of mineralogy at Cambridge, to turn his attention to the subject; and in 1760 he published in the Philosophical Transactions a remarkable essay on the Cause and Phenomena of Earthquakes. A suggestion of much scientific interest was made by Thomas Young, when in his Lectures on Natural Philosophy, published in 1807, he remarked that an earthquake “is probably propagated through the earth nearly in the same manner as a noise is conveyed through the air.” The recognition of the fact that the seismologist has to deal with the investigation of wave-motion in solids lies at the very base of his science. In 1846 Robert Mallet communicated to the Royal Irish Academy his first paper “On the Dynamics of Earthquakes”; and in the following year W. Hopkins, of Cambridge, presented to the British Association a valuable report in which earthquake phenomena were discussed in some detail. Mallet’s labours were continued for many years chiefly in the form of Reports to the British Association, and culminated in his great work on the Neapolitan earthquake of 1857. An entirely new impetus, however, was given to the study of earthquakes by an energetic body of observers in Japan, who commenced their investigations about the year 1880, mainly through the influence of Prof. John Milne, then of Tokyo. Their work, carried on by means of new instruments of precision, and since taken up by observers in many parts of the world, has so extended our knowledge of earthquake-motion that seismology has now become practically a new department of physical science.
It is hardly too much to say, however, that the earliest systematic application of scientific principles to the study of the effects of an earthquake was made by Mallet in his investigation of the Neapolitan earthquake mentioned above. It is true, the great Calabrian earthquake of 1783 had been the subject of careful inquiry by the Royal Academy of Naples, as also by Deodat Dolomieu and some other scientific authorities; but in consequence of the misconception which at that time prevailed with regard to the nature of seismic activity, the results of the inquiry, though in many ways interesting, were of very limited scientific value. It was reserved for Mallet to undertake for the first time an extensive series of systematic observations in an area of great seismic disturbance, with the view of explaining the phenomena by the application of the laws of wave-motion.
The “Great Neapolitan Earthquake,” by which more than 12,300 lives were lost, was felt in greater or less degree over all Italy south of the parallel of 42°, and has been regarded as ranking third in order of severity among the Neapolitan earthquake, 1857. recorded earthquakes of Europe. The principal shock occurred at about 10 P.M. on the 16th of December 1857; but, as is usually the case, it had been preceded by minor disturbances and was followed by numerous after-shocks which continued for many months. Early in 1858, aided by a grant from the Royal Society, Mallet visited the devastated districts, and spent more than two months in studying the effects of the catastrophe, especially examining, with the eye of an engineer, the cracks and ruins of the buildings. His voluminous report was published in 1862, and though his methods of research and his deductions have in many cases been superseded by the advance of knowledge, the report still remains a memorable work in the history of seismology.
Much of Mallet’s labour was directed to the determination of the position and magnitude of the subterranean source from which the vibratory impulses originated. This is known variously as the seismic centre, centrum, hypocentre, origin or focus. It is often convenient to regard this centre theoretically as a point, but practically it must be a locus or space of three dimensions, which in different cases varies much in size and shape, and may be of great magnitude. That part of the surface of the earth which is vertically above the centre is called the epicentre; or, if of considerable area, the epicentral or epifocal tract. A vertical line joining the epicentre and the focus was termed by Mallet the seismic vertical. He calculated that in the case of the Neapolitan earthquake the focal cavity was a curved lamelliform fissure, having a length of about 10 m. and a height of about 3½ m., whilst its width was inconsiderable. The central point of this fissure, the theoretical seismic centre, he estimated to have been at a depth of about 6½ m. from the surface. Dr C. Davison, in discussing Mallet’s data, was led to the conclusion that there were two distinct foci, possibly situated on a fault, or plane of dislocation, running in a north-west and south-east direction. Mallet located his epicentre near the village of Caggiano, not far from Polla, while the other seems to have been in the neighbourhood of Montemurro, about 25 m. to the south-east.
The intensity, or violence, of an earthquake is greatest in or near the epicentre, whence it decreases in all directions. A line drawn through points of equal intensity forms a curve round the epicentre known as an isoseist, an isoseismal or an isoseismic line. If the intensity declined equally in all directions the isoseismals would be circles, but as this is rarely if ever the case in nature they usually become ellipses and other closed curves. The tract which is most violently shaken was termed by Mallet the meizoseismic area, whilst the line of maximum destruction is known as the meizoseismic line. That isoseismal along which the decline of energy is most rapid was called by K. von Seebach a pleistoseist.
In order to determine the position of the seismic centre, Mallet made much use of the cracks in damaged buildings, especially in walls of masonry, holding that the direction of such fractures must generally be at right angles to that in which the normal earthquake-wave reached them. In this way he obtained the “angle of emergence” of the wave. He also assumed that free-falling bodies would be overthrown and projected in the direction of propagation of the wave, so that the epicentre might immediately be found from the intersection of such directions. These data are, however, subject to much error, especially through want of homogeneity in the rocks, but Mallet’s work was still of great value.
A different method of ascertaining the depth of the focus was adopted by Major C. E. Dutton in his investigation of the Charleston earthquake of the 31st of August 1886 for the U.S. Geological Survey. This catastrophe Charleston earthquake, 1886. was heralded by shocks of greater or less severity a few days previously at Summerville, a village 22 m. north-west of Charleston. The great earthquake occurred at 9.51 P.M., standard time of the 75th meridian, and in about 70 seconds almost every building in Charleston was more or less seriously damaged, while many lives were lost. The epicentral tract was mainly a forest region with but few buildings, and the principal records of seismological value were afforded by the lines of railway which traversed the disturbed area. In many places these rails were flexured and dislocated. Numerous fissures opened in the ground, and many of these discharged water, mixed sometimes with sand and silt, which was thrown up in jets rising in some cases to a height of 20 ft. Two epicentres were recognized—one near Woodstock station on the South Carolina railway, and the other, being the centre of a much smaller tract, about 14 m. south-west of the first and near the station of Rantowles on the Charleston and Savannah line. Around these centres and far away isoseismal lines were drawn, the relative intensity at different places being roughly estimated by the effects of the catastrophe on various structures and natural objects, or, where visible records were wanting, by personal evidence, which is often vague and variable. The Rossi-Forel scale was adopted. This is an arbitrary scale formulated by Professor M. S. de Rossi, of Rome, and Dr F. A. Forel, of Geneva, based mostly on the ordinary phenomena observed during an earthquake, and consisting of ten degrees, of which the lowest is the feeblest, viz. I. Microseismic shock; II. Extremely feeble shock; III. Very feeble shock; IV. Feeble; V. Shock of moderate intensity; VI. Fairly strong shock; VII. Strong shock; VIII. Very strong shock; IX. Extremely strong shock; X. Shock of extreme intensity. Other conventional scales, some being less detailed, have been drawn up by observers in such earthquake-shaken countries as Italy and Japan. A curve, or theoretical isoseismal, drawn through certain points where the decline of intensity on receding from the epicentre seems to be greatest was called by Dutton an “index-circle”; and it can be shown that the radius of such a circle multiplied by the square root of 3 gives the focal depth theoretically. In this way it was computed that in the Charleston earthquake the origin under Woodstock must have had a depth of about 12 m. and that near Rantowles a depth of nearly 8 m. The determination of the index-circle presents much difficulty, and the conclusions must be regarded as only approximate.
It is probable, according to R. D. Oldham, that local earthquakes may originate in the “outer skin” of the earth, whilst a large world-shaking earthquake takes its origin in the deeper part of the “crust,” whence such a disturbance is termed a bathyseism. Large earthquakes may have very extended origins, with no definite centre, or with several foci.
The gigantic disaster known as the “Great Indian Earthquake,” which occurred on the 12th of June 1897, was the subject of careful investigation by the Geological Survey of India and was described in detail by the superintendent, Great Indian earthquake, 1897. R. D. Oldham. It is sometimes termed the Assam earthquake, since it was in that province that the effects were most severe, but the shocks were felt over a large part of India, and indeed far beyond its boundaries. Much of the area which suffered most disturbance was a wild country, sparsely populated, with but few buildings of brick or stone from which the violence of the shocks could be estimated. The epicentral tract was of great size, having an estimated area of about 6000 sq. m., but the mischief was most severe in the neighbourhood of Shillong, where the stonework of bridges, churches and other buildings was absolutely levelled to the ground. After the main disturbance, shocks of greater or less severity continued at intervals for many weeks. It is supposed that this earthquake was connected with movement of subterranean rock-masses of enormous magnitude along a great thrust-plane, or series of such planes, having a length of about 200 m. and a maximum breadth of not less than 50 m. It is pointed out by Oldham that this may be compared for size with the great Faille du Midi in Belgium, which is known to extend for a distance of 120 m. The depth of the principal focus, though not actually capable of determination, was probably less than 5 m. from the surface. From the focus many secondary faults and fractures proceeded, some reaching the surface of the ground. Enormous landslips accompanied the earthquake, and as an indirect effect of these slides the form of the water-courses became in certain cases modified. Permanent changes of level were also observed.
Eight years after the great Assam earthquake India was visited by another earthquake, which, though less intense, resulted in the loss of about 20,000 lives. This catastrophe is known as the Kangra earthquake, since its Kangra earthquake, 1905. centre seems to have been located in the Kangra valley, in the north-west Himalaya. It occurred on the 4th of April 1905, and the first great shocks were felt in the chief epifocal district at about 6.9 a.m., Madras time. Although the tract chiefly affected was around Kangra and Dharmsala, there was a subordinate epifocal tract in Dehra Dun and the neighbourhood of Mussoorie, whilst the effects of the earthquake extended in slight measure to Lahore and other cities of the plain. It is estimated that the earthquake was felt over an area of about 1,625,000 m. Immediately after the calamity a scientific examination of its effects was made by the Geological Survey of India, and a report was drawn up by the superintendent, C. S. Middlemiss.
The great earthquake, which, with the subsequent fire, wrought such terrible destruction in and around San Francisco on the 18th of April 1906, was the most disastrous ever recorded in California. It occurred between 10 and 15 minutes California earthquake, 1906. after 5 A.M., standard time of the 120th meridian. The moment at which the disaster began and the duration of the shock varied at different localities in the great area over which the earthquake was felt. At San Francisco the main shock lasted rather more than one minute.
According to the official Report, the earthquake was due to rupture and movement along the plane of the San Andreas fault, one of a series which runs for several hundred miles approximately in a N.W. and S.E. direction near the coast line. Evidence of fresh movement along this plane of dislocation was traced for a distance of 190 m. from San Juan on the south to Point Arena on the north. There the trace of the fault is lost beneath the sea, but either the same fault or another appears 75 m. to the north at Point Delgada. The belt of disturbed country is notoriously unstable, and part of the fault had been known as the “earthquake crack.” The direction is marked by lines of straight cliffs, long ponds and narrow depressions, forming a Rift, or old line of seismic disturbance. According to Dr G. K. Gilbert the earthquake zone has a length of 300 or 400 m. The principal displacement of rock, in 1906, was horizontal, amounting generally to about 10 ft. (maximum 21 ft.), but there was also locally a slight vertical movement, which towards the north end of the fault reached 3 ft. Movement was traced for a distance of about 270 m., and it is estimated that at least 175,000 sq. m. of country must have been disturbed. In estimating the intensity of the earthquake in San Francisco a new scale was introduced by H. O. Wood. The greatest structural damage occurred on soft alluvial soil and “made ground.” Most of the loss of property in San Francisco was due to the terrible fire which followed the earthquake and was beyond control owing to the destruction of the system of water-supply.
Immediately after the catastrophe a California Earthquake Investigation Committee was appointed by the governor of the state; and the American Association for the Advancement of Science afterwards instituted a Seismological Committee. The elaborate Report of the State Investigation Committee, by the chairman, Professor A. C. Lawson, was published in 1908.
On the 17th of August 1906 a disastrous earthquake occurred at Valparaiso, and the year 1906 was marked generally by exceptional seismic activity.
The Jamaica earthquake of the 14th of January 1907 appears to have accompanied movement of rock along an east and west fracture or series of fractures under the sea a few miles from the city of Kingston. The statue of Queen Victoria at Kingston was turned upon its pedestal the eighth of a revolution.
A terrible earthquake occurred in Calabria and Sicily on December 28, 1908, practically destroying Messina and Reggio. According to the official returns the total loss of life was 77,283. Whilst the principal centre seems to Messina earthquake, 1908. have been in the Strait of Messina, whence the disturbance is generally known as the Messina earthquake, there were independent centres in the Calabrian peninsula, a country which had been visited by severe earthquakes not long previously, namely on September 8, 1905, and October 23, 1907. The principal shock of the great Messina earthquake of 1908 occurred at 5.21 A.M. (4.21 Greenwich time), and had a duration of from 30 to 40 seconds. Neither during nor immediately before the catastrophe was there any special volcanic disturbance at Etna or at Stromboli, but it is believed that there must have been movement along a great plane of weakness in the neighbourhood of the Strait of Messina, which has been studied by E. Cortese. The sea-floor in the strait probably suffered great disturbance, resulting in the remarkable movement of water observed on the coast. At first the sea retired, and then a great wave rolled in, followed by others generally of decreasing amplitude, though at Catania the second was said to have been greater than the first. At Messina the height of the great wave was 2.70 metres, whilst at Ali and Giardini it reached 8.40 metres and at San Alessio as much as 11.7 metres. At Malta the tide-gauge recorded a wave of 0.91 metre. The depth of the chief earthquake-centre was estimated by Dr E. Oddone at about 9 kilometres. The earthquake and accompanying phenomena were studied also by Professor A. Riccò, Dr M. Baratta and Professor G. Platania and by Dr F. Omori of Tokyo. After the great disturbance, shocks continued to affect the region intermittently for several months. In certain respects the earthquake of 1908 presented much resemblance to the great Calabrian catastrophe of 1783.
It has been proposed by R. D. Oldham that the disturbance which causes the fracture and permanent displacement of the rocks during an earthquake should be called an “earthshake,” leaving the term earthquake especially for the vibratory motion. The movement of the earthquake is molecular, whilst that of the earthshake is molar. Subsequently he suggested the terms mochleusis and orchesis (μοχλέυω, I heave; ὀρχέομαι, I dance), to denote respectively the molar and the molecular movement, retaining the word earthquake for use in its ordinary sense.
In most earthquakes the proximate cause is generally regarded as the fracture and sudden movement of underground rock-masses. Disturbances of this type are known as “tectonic” earthquakes, since they are connected with the folding and faulting of the rocks of the earth’s crust. They indicate a relief of the strain to which the rock-masses are subjected by mountain-making and other crustal movements, and they are consequently apt to occur along the steep face of a table-land or the margin of a continent with a great slope from land to sea. In many cases the immediate seat of the originating impulse is located beneath the sea, giving rise to submarine disturbances which have been called “seaquakes.” Much attention has been given to these suboceanic disturbances by Professor E. Rudolph.
Professor J. H. Jeans has pointed out that the regions of the earth’s crust most affected by earthquakes lie on a great circle corresponding with the equator of the slightly pear-shaped figure that he assigns to the earth. This would represent a belt of weakness, subject to crushing, from the tendency of the pear to pass into a spherical or spheroidal form under the action of internal stresses. According to the comte de Montessus de Ballore, the regions of maximum seismic instability appear to be arranged on two great circles, inclined to each other at about 67°. These are the Circumpacific and Mediterranean zones.
Maps of the world, showing the origins of large earthquakes each year, accompany the Annual Reports of the Seismological Committee of the British Association, drawn up by Professor Milne. It is important to note that Professor Milne has shown a relationship between earthquake-frequency and the wandering of the earth’s pole from its mean position. Earthquakes seem to have been most frequent when the displacement of the pole has been comparatively great, or when the change in the direction of movement has been marked. Valuable earthquake catalogues have been compiled at various times by Alexis Perrey, R. and J. W. Mallet, John Milne, T. Oldham, C. W. C. Fuchs, F. de Montessus de Ballore and others.
Such earthquakes as are felt from time to time in Great Britain may generally be traced to the formation of faults, or rather to incidents in the growth of old faults. The East Anglian earthquake of the 22nd of April 1884—the British earthquakes. most disastrous that had occurred in the British Isles for centuries—was investigated by Prof. R. Meldola and W. White on behalf of the Essex Field Club. The shocks probably proceeded from two foci—one near the villages of Peldon and Abberton, the other near Wivenhoe and Rowhedge, in N.E. Essex. It is believed that the superficial disturbance resulted from rupture of rocks along a deep fault. An attempt has been made by H. Darwin, for the Seismological Committee of the British Association, to detect and measure any gradual movement of the strata along a fault, by observation at the Ridgeway fault, near Upway, in Dorsetshire. Dr C. Davison in studying the earthquakes which have originated in Britain since 1889 finds that several have been “twins.” A twin earthquake has two maxima of intensity proceeding from two foci, whereas a double earthquake has its successive impulses from what is practically a single focus. The Hereford earthquake of December 1896, which resulted in great structural damage, was a twin, having one epicentre near Hereford and the other near Ross. Davison refers it to a slip along a fault-plane between the anticlinal areas of Woolhope and May Hill; and according to the same authority the Inverness earthquake of the 18th of September 1901 was referable to movement along a fault between Loch Ness and Inverness. The South Wales earthquake of June 27, 1906, was probably due to movement connected with the Armorican system of folds, striking in an east and west direction.
It may be noted that when a slip occurs along a fault, the displacement underground may be but slight and may die out before reaching the surface, so that no scarp is formed. In connexion, however, with a seismic disturbance of the first magnitude the superficial features may be markedly affected. Thus, the great Japan earthquake of October 1891—known often as the Mino-Owari earthquake—was connected with the formation or development of a fault which, according to Professor B. Koto, was traced on the surface for a distance of nearly 50 m. and presented in places a scarp with a vertical throw of as much as 20 ft., while probably the maximum displacement underground was very much greater.
Although most earthquakes seem to be of tectonic type, there are some which are evidently connected, directly or indirectly, with volcanic activity (see Volcano). Such, it is commonly believed, were the earthquakes which disturbed the Isle of Ischia in 1881 and 1883, and were studied by Professor J. Johnston-Lavis and G. Mercalli. In addition to the tectonic and volcanic types, there are occasional earthquakes of minor importance which may be referred to the collapse of the roof of caverns, or other falls of rock in underground cavities at no great depth. According to Prof. T. J. J. See most earthquakes are due, directly or indirectly, to the explosive action of steam, formed chiefly by the leakage of sea-water through the ocean floor.
Whatever the nature of the impulse which originates the earthquake, it gives rise to a series of waves which are propagated through the earth’s substance and also superficially. In one kind, known as normal or condensational waves, Earthquake waves. or waves of elastic compression, the particles vibrate to and from the centre of disturbance, moving in the direction in which the wave travels, and therefore in a way analogous to the movement of air in a sound-wave. Associated with this type are other waves termed transverse waves, or waves of elastic distortion, in which the particles vibrate across or around the direction in which the wave is propagated. The normal waves result from a temporary change of volume in the medium; the transverse from a change of shape. The distance through which an earth-particle moves from its mean position of rest, whether radially or transversely, is called the amplitude of the wave; whilst the double amplitude, or total distance of movement, to and fro or up and down, like the distance from crest to trough of a water wave, may be regarded as the range of the wave. The period of a wave is the time required for the vibrating particle to complete an oscillation. As the rocks of the earth’s crust are very heterogeneous, the earthquake-waves suffer refraction and reflection as they pass from one rock to another differing in density and elasticity. In this way the waves break up and become much modified in course of transmission, thus introducing great complexity into the phenomena. It is known that the normal waves travel more rapidly than the transverse.
Measurements of the surface speed at which earthquake-waves travel require very accurate time-measurers, and these are not generally available in earthquake-shaken regions. Observations during the Charleston earthquake of 1886 were at that time of exceptional value, since they were made over a large area where standard time was kept. Lines drawn through places around the epicentre at which the shock arrives at the same moment are called coseismal lines. The motion of the wave is to be distinguished from the movement of the vibrating particles. The velocity of the earth-particle is its rate of movement, but this is constantly changing during the vibration, and the rate at which the velocity changes is technically called the acceleration of the particle.
Unfelt movements of the ground are registered in the earthquake records, or seismograms, obtained by the delicate instruments used by modern seismologists. From the study of the records of a great earthquake from a distant source, sometimes termed a teleseismic disturbance, some interesting inferences have been drawn with respect to the constitution of the interior of the earth. The complete record shows two phases of “preliminary tremors” preceding the principal waves. It is believed that while the preliminary tremors pass through the body of the earth, the principal waves travel along or parallel to the surface. Probably the first phase represents condensational, and the second phase distortional, waves. Professor Milne concludes from the speed of the waves at different depths that materials having similar physical properties to those at the surface may extend to a depth of about 30 m., below which they pass into a fairly homogeneous nucleus. From the different rates of propagation of the precursors it has been inferred by R. D. Oldham that below the outer crust, which is probably not everywhere of the same thickness, the earth is of practically uniform character to a depth of about six-tenths of the radius, but the remaining four-tenths may represent a core differing physically and perhaps chemically from the outer part. Oldham also suggests, from his study of oceanic and continental wave-paths, that there is probably a difference in the constitution of the earth beneath oceans and beneath continents.
The surface waves, which are waves of great length and long period and are propagated to great distances with practically a constant velocity, have been regarded as quasi-elastic gravitational waves. Further, in a great earthquake the surface of the ground is sometimes visibly agitated in the epifocal district by undulations which may be responsible for severe superficial damage. (See also for elastic waves Elasticity, § 89.)
An old classification of earthquake-shocks, traces of which still linger in popular nomenclature, described them as “undulatory,” when the movement of the ground was mainly in a horizontal direction; “subsultory,” when the motion was vertical, like the effect of a normal wave at the epicentre; and “vorticose,” when the movement was rotatory, apparently due to successive impulses in varying directions.
The sounds which are associated with seismic phenomena, often described as subterranean rumbling and roaring, are not without scientific interest, and have been carefully studied by Davison. “Isacoustic lines” are curves drawn through places where the sound is heard by the same percentage of observers. The sound is always low and often inaudible to many.
The refined instruments which are now used by seismologists for determining the elements of earthquake motion and for recording earthquakes from distant origins are described in the article Seismometer. These instruments were developed as a consequence of the attention given in modern times to the study of earthquakes in the Far East.
Strange as it may appear, the advances that have been made in the study of earthquakes and the world-wide interest shown in their phenomena were initiated in work commenced in Japan. When the Japanese government, Seismology in Japan. desiring to adopt Western knowledge, invited to its shores bodies of men to act as its instructors, the attention of the newcomers was naturally attracted to the frequent shakings of the ground. Interest in these phenomena increased more rapidly than their frequency, and at length it was felt that something should be done for their systematic study. At midnight on the 22nd of February 1880 movements more violent than usual occurred; chimneys were shattered or rotated, tiles slid down from roofs, and in the morning it was seen that Yokohama had the appearance of a city that had suffered a bombardment. The excitement was intense, and before the ruins had been removed a meeting was convened and the Seismological Society of Japan established. The twenty volumes of original papers published by this body summarize to a large extent the results of the later study of seismology.
The attention of the students of earthquakes in Japan was at first directed almost entirely to seismometry or earthquake measurement. Forms of apparatus which then existed, as for example the seismographs, seismometers and seismoscopes of Mallet, Palmieri and others, were subjected to trial; but inasmuch as they did little more than indicate that an earthquake had taken place—the more elaborate forms recording also the time of its occurrence—they were rapidly discarded, and instruments were constructed to measure earthquake motion. Slightly modified types of the new instruments devised in Japan were adopted throughout the Italian peninsula, and it is fair to say that the seismometry developed in Japan revolutionized the seismometry of the world. The records obtained from the new instruments increased our knowledge of the character of earthquake motion, and the engineer and the architect were placed in a position to construct so that the effects of known movements could be minimized. It was no doubt the marked success, both practical and scientific, attending these investigations that led the Japanese government to establish a chair of seismology at its university, to organize a system of nearly 1000 observing stations throughout the country, and in 1893 to appoint a committee of scientific and practical men to carry out investigations which might palliate the effects of seismic disturbances. In the first year this committee received a grant of £5000, and as liberal sums for the same purpose appear from time to time in the parliamentary estimates, it may be assumed that the work has been fraught with good results. In their publications we find not only records of experiences and experiments in Japan, but descriptions and comments upon earthquake effects in other countries. In two of the volumes there are long and extremely well illustrated accounts of the earthquake which on the 12th of June 1897 devastated Assam, to which country two members of the above-mentioned committee were despatched to gather such information as might be of value to the architect and builder in earthquake-shaken districts.
A great impetus to seismological investigation in Europe and America was no doubt given by the realization of the fact that a large earthquake originating in any one part of the world may be recorded in almost any other. Italy Seismological research. for many years past has had its observatories for recording earthquakes which can be felt, and which are of local origin, but at the present time at all its first-class stations we find instruments to record the unfelt movements due to earthquakes originating at great distances, and as much attention is now paid to the large earthquakes of the world as to the smaller ones originating within Italian territory. The Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften of Vienna established earthquake observatories in Austria, and the Central Observatorium of St Petersburg has carried out similar work in Russia. Germany attached a seismological observatory to its university at Strassburg, whilst provision has been made for a professorship of Earth Physics (Geophysik) at Göttingen. In accordance with the recommendation of the British Association, seismographs of a similar character have been installed at stations all over the world. The principal objects of this extended and still extending system of stations are to determine the velocity with which motion is propagated over the surface and through the interior of the earth, to locate the positions of sub-oceanic earthquake origins, and generally to extend our knowledge respecting the physical nature of the planet on which we live.
We now know that earthquakes are many times more frequent than was previously supposed. In Japan, for example, between 1885 and 1892 no fewer than 8331 were recorded—that is to say, on the average there were during that time Frequency of earthquakes. more than 1000 disturbances per year. Although many of these did not cause a sensible shaking over areas exceeding a few hundred square miles, many of them were sufficiently intense to propagate vibrations round and through the globe. If we pick out the well-marked earthquake districts of the world, and give to each of them a seismicity or earthquake frequency per unit area one-third of that in Japan, the conclusion arrived at is that considerable areas of our planet are on the average shaken every half-hour.
The knowledge which we now possess respecting the localities where earthquakes are frequent and the forms of the foci from which they have spread, enables us to speak definitely respecting the originating causes of many of these Volcanoes and earthquakes. phenomena. It is found, for example, that although in many countries there may be displays of volcanic and seismic activity taking place almost side by side, it is only rarely that there is direct relationship between the two. Now and then, however, before a volcano breaks into eruption there may be a few ineffectual efforts to form a vent, each of which is accompanied by no more than a slight local shaking of the ground. This is true even for the largest and most violent eruptions, when mountains have with practically a single effort blown off their heads and shoulders. Thus the earthquake which accompanied the eruption of Bandaisan, in central Japan, in 1888 was felt only over a radius of 25 m. The analyses of the seismic registers of Japan clearly indicate that comparatively few shakings originate near to the volcanoes of the country, the majority of them, like those of many other countries, coming from regions where volcanic rocks are absent. The greatest number spread inland from the Pacific seaboard, the movement becoming more and more feeble as it approaches the backbone of the country, which is drilled with numerous volcanic vents. What is true for Japan is generally true for the western coasts of North and South America.
Speaking broadly, earthquakes are most frequent along the steeper flexures in the earth’s surface, and in those regions where there is geological evidence to show that slow secular movements in the earth’s crust are possibly yet in Origin of earthquakes. progress. With a unit distance of 2 degrees, or 120 geographical m., we find that the slopes running eastwards from the highlands of Japan and westwards from the Andean ridges down into the Pacific vary from 1 in 20 to 1 in 30, and it is on the faces or near to the bottom of these slopes that seismic efforts are frequent. The slopes running from Australia, eastern America and western Europe into the neighbouring oceans vary between 1 in 70 and 1 in 250, and in these regions earthquakes are of rare occurrence. The seismic activity met with in the Himalayas and the Alps finds its best explanation in the fact that these mountains are geologically recent, and there are no reasons to doubt that the forces which brought their folds into existence are yet in action.
This peculiar association of earthquakes with pronounced topographical configuration and certain geological conditions evidently indicates that the origin of many of them is connected with rock folding. Inasmuch as certain large earthquakes have been accompanied by rock fracture, as for example in 1891, when in central Japan a fault some 50 m. in length was created, whilst the origins of others have been distinctly traced to the line of an existing fault or its continuation, we may conclude that the majority of earthquakes are spasmodic accelerations in the secular movements which are creating (and in some instances possibly obliterating) the more prominent features of the earth’s surface. These secular movements, which include upheavals, subsidences, horizontal displacements—all of which are explained on the assumption of a crust seeking support on a nucleus gradually contracting by loss of heat, are collectively referred to as bradyseismical (βραδύς, slow) movements. To these may be added movements directly attributable to the influence of gravity. Sub-oceanic districts in a state of seismic strain may be so far loaded by the accumulation of sediments that gentle bending may be accompanied by sudden yieldings. This possibly accounts for the frequency of earthquakes off the mouth of the Tonegawa on the eastern side of Japan. The distortions so frequently observed in fossils and pebbles, the varying thickness of contorted strata, and the “creep” in coal-mines, together with other phenomena, indicate that rocks may flow. Observations of this nature lead to the supposition that high plateau-like regions may be gradually subsiding under the influence of their own weight, and that the process of settlement may from time to time be spasmodic in its character. Whether the earthquakes which originate round the submerged basal frontiers of the continents bounding the Pacific are ever attributable to such activities, it is impossible to say. All that we know with certainty is that they are sometimes accompanied by such a vast displacement of material that the ocean has been set into a state of oscillation for periods of 24 hours, that in some instances there have been marked changes in depth, and that enormous sub-oceanic landslips have occurred. These phenomena are, however, equally well explained on the assumption of sudden faulting accompanied by violent shaking, which would dislodge steeply inclined beds of material beneath the ocean as it does upon the land.
Although the proximate cause of earthquake motion is traced to sudden yieldings in the crust of the earth brought about by some form of bradyseismical action, the existence of at least two distinct types of seismic motion Two types of earthquake motion. indicates that the mechanical conditions accompanying the fracturing of rocks are not always identical. 90 or 95% of the earthquakes which can be recorded consist of elastic or quasi-elastic vibrations. The remainder, including the large earthquakes, not only exhibit the elastic movements, but are accompanied by surface undulations which are propagated most certainly for some hundreds of miles round their origin, and then as horizontal movements sweep over the whole surface of the globe. The former of these may accompany the formation of a new fault or the sudden renewal of movement along an old one; they are cracking or rending effects, without any great displacement. The latter are probably fracturings accompanied by vertical and horizontal displacements of masses of the earth’s crust sufficiently great to set up the observed surface undulations. These shocks are so frequently followed a few minutes later by disturbances, which from their similarity to the movements which have preceded them may be called earthquake echoes, that we are led to the speculation that we are here dealing with the caving-in of ill-supported portions of the earth’s crust, the waves from which are radiated to boundaries and then returned to their origin to coalesce and give rise to a second impulse not unlike the primary. Succeeding the first repetition of motion recorded by the seismograph there is often a rhythmical repetition of similar wave groups, suggesting the existence within our earth of phenomena akin to multiple echoes.
The introduction of new methods into seismometry quickly revolutionized our ideas respecting the character of earthquake motion. Although an earthquake may be strongly felt within a distance of 50 m. from its origin, and Character of earthquake motion. although the movements in the upper storeys of buildings within the shaken area may be large, the actual range of the horizontal motion of the ground is usually less than 1⁄10 of an inch. With such earthquakes ordinary seismographs for recording vertical motion do not show any disturbance. When the movement reaches ½ in. it becomes dangerous, and a back-and-forth movement of an inch is usually accompanied by destructive effects. In this latter case the amplitude of the vertical record which indicates the existence of surface waves will vary between ½ and 1⁄100 of an inch. In the earthquake which devastated central Japan on the 26th of October 1891, nearly every building within the epifocal district fell, the ground was fissured, forests slipped down from mountain sides to dam up valleys, whilst the valleys themselves were permanently compressed. The horizontal movements seem to have reached 9 in. or 1 ft., and the surface undulations were visible to the eye.
The rapidity with which the movements are performed varies throughout a disturbance. A typical earthquake usually commences with minute elastic vibrations, the periods of which vary between 1⁄5 and 1⁄20 of a second. These Period and duration. are recorded by seismographs, and are noticed by certain of the lower animals like pheasants, which before the occurrence of movement perceptible to human beings scream as if alarmed. When an earthquake is preceded by a sound we have evidence of preliminary tremors even more rapid than those recorded by seismographs. Following these precursors there is a shock or shocks, the period of which will be 1 or 2 seconds. From this climax the movements, although irregular in character, become slower and smaller until finally they are imperceptible. The duration of a small earthquake usually varies from a few seconds to a minute, but large earthquakes, which are accompanied by surface undulations, may be felt for 2 or 3 minutes, whilst an ordinary seismograph indicates a duration of from 6 to 12 minutes. A free horizontal pendulum tells us that with severe earthquakes the ground comes to rest by a series of more or less rhythmical surgings, continuing over 1 or 2 hours. Although the maximum displacement has a definite direction, the successive vibrations are frequently performed in many different azimuths. The predominating direction at a given station in certain instances is apparently at right angles to the strike of the neighbouring strata, this being the direction of easiest yielding.
Earthquake motion as recorded at stations several thousands of miles distant from its origin exhibits characteristics strikingly different from those just described. The precursors now show periods of from 1 to 5 seconds, whilst the Velocity. largest movements corresponding to the shocks may have periods of from 20 to 40 seconds. The interval of time by which the first tremors have outraced the maximum movement has also become greater. Within a few hundreds of miles from an origin this interval increases steadily, the velocity of propagation of the first movements being about 2 km. per second, whilst that of the latter may be taken at about 1.6 km. per second. Beyond this distance the velocity of transmission of the first movements rapidly increases, and for great distances, as for example from Japan to England, it is higher than we should expect for waves of compression passing through steel or glass. This observation precludes the idea that these preliminary tremors have travelled through the heterogeneous crust of the earth, and since the average velocity of their transmission increases with the length of the path along which they have travelled, and we but rarely obtain certain evidence that a seismograph has been disturbed by waves which have reached it by travelling in opposite directions round the world, we are led to the conclusion that earthquake precursors pass through our earth and not round its surface. The following table relating to earthquakes, which originated off the coast of Borneo on the 20th and 27th of September 1897, is illustrative of the velocities here considered:—
per sec. if
|Catania, Ischia, Rocca di Papa, Rome||96°||9.0||9.5|
|Isle of Wight||103°||9.8||10.2|
The chords referred to here are those joining the earthquake origins and distant observing stations, and it will be noted that one-quarter of the square root of the average depths at which these run closely corresponds to observed average velocities if wave paths followed chords. This increase of velocity with average depth shows that the paths followed through the earth must be curved with their convexity towards the centre of the earth. These observations do not directly tell us to what extent a true wave path is deflected from the direction of a chord, but they suggest as an extremely plausible assumption that the square of the speed is a linear function of the depth below the surface of the earth. With this assumption Dr C. G. Knott shows that the square of the speed (v²) can be expressed linearly in terms of the average depth of the chord d, thus: v² = 2.9 + .026 d, the units being miles and seconds. The formula applies with fair accuracy to moderate and high values of d, but it gives too high a value for short chords. It follows that the square of the speed increases 0.9% per mile of descent in the earth. The conclusion we arrive at is that the preliminary tremors which pass through the earth do so in the vicinity of their origin at the rate of almost 2.3 km. per second. This velocity increases as the wave path plunges downwards, attaining in the central regions a velocity of 16 to 17 kms., whilst the highest average velocity which is across a diameter lies between 10 and 12 kms. per second.
The large surface waves radiating from an origin to a distant place have velocities lying between 1.6 and 4 kms. per second, and it has been observed that when the higher velocity has been noted this refers to an observation at a station very remote from the origin. One explanation of this is the assumption that only very large waves indicating a large initial disturbance are capable of travelling to great distances, and as pointed out by R. D. Oldham, large waves under the influence of gravity will travel faster than small waves. These waves (which may be gravitational or distortional) are recorded as slow tiltings of the ground measured by angles of 0.5 to 10 or 15 seconds of arc, or as horizontal displacements of 0.5 or several millimetres. Their calculated lengths have reached 50 kms. (31 m.).
In the section of this article relating to the cause of earthquakes a little has been said about their frequency or the number of times these phenomena are repeated during a given interval of time. It has been shown that all countries Frequency. are very often moved by earthquakes which have originated at great distances. Great Britain, for example, is crossed about 100 times a year by earthquake waves having durations of from 3 minutes to 3 hours, whilst the vibratory motions which originate in that country are not only small but of rare occurrence. In the earlier stages of the world’s history, because the contraction of its nucleus was more rapid than it is at present, it is commonly inferred that phenomena accompanying bradyseismical activity must have been more pronounced and have shown themselves upon a grander scale than they do at the present time. Now, although the records of our rocks only carry us back over a certain portion of this history, they certainly represent an interval of time sufficiently long to furnish some evidence of such enfeeblement if it ever existed. So far from this being the case, however, we meet with distinct evidences in the later chapters of geological history of plutonic awakenings much more violent than those recorded at its commencement. During Palaeozoic times many mountain ranges were formed, and accompanying these orogenic processes there was marked volcanic activity. In the succeeding Secondary period plutonic forces were quiescent, but during the formation of the early Tertiaries, when some of the largest mountain ranges were created, they awoke with a vigour greater than had ever been previously exhibited. At this period it is not improbable that Scotland was as remarkable for its volcanoes and its earthquakes as Japan is at the present day. If the statement relating to the general decrease in bradyseismical changes referred merely to their frequency, and omitted reference to their magnitude, the views of the geologist and physicist might harmonize. One explanation for this divergence of opinion may rest on the fact that too little attention has been directed to all the conditions which accompany the adaptation of the earth’s crust to its shrinking nucleus. As the latter grows smaller the puckerings and foldings of the former should grow larger. Each succeeding geological epoch should be characterized by mountain formations more stupendous than those which preceded them, whilst the fracturing, dislocation, caving-in of ill-supported regions, and creation of lines of freedom for the exhibition of volcanic activity which would accompany these changes, would grow in magnitude. The written records of many countries reflect but on a smaller scale the crystallized records in their hills. In 1844, at Comrie, in Perthshire, as many as twelve earthquakes were recorded in a single month, whilst now there are but one or two per year. Earthquake frequency varies with time. A district under the influence of hypogenic activities reaches a condition of seismic strain which usually is relieved rapidly at first, but subsequently more slowly.
The small shocks which follow an initial large disturbance are known as after-shocks. The first shock which in 1891 devastated central Japan was accompanied by the formation of a large fault, and the 3364 small shocks which succeeded this during the following two years are regarded as due to intermittent settlements of disjointed material. The decreasing frequency with which after-shocks occur may be represented by a curve. Dr F. Omori points out that the continuation of such a curve gives the means of determining the length of time which will probably elapse before the region to which it refers will return to the same seismic quiescence that it had prior to the initial disturbance.
The positive results that we have respecting the periodicity of earthquakes are but few. Generally earthquakes are somewhat more frequent during winter than during summer, and this applies to both the northern and southern hemispheres. The Periodicity. annual periodicity, which, however, does not show itself if only destructive earthquakes are considered, finds an explanation, according to Dr Knott, in the annual periodicity of long-continued stresses, as for example those due to the accumulation of snow and to barometric gradients. For certain earthquake regions there appears to be a distinct semi-annual period for which no satisfactory explanation has yet been adduced. Although the elaborate registers of Japan, which have enabled us to group earthquakes according to their respective origins and varying intensities, and to separate after-shocks from initial disturbances, have been subjected by Dr Knott to most careful analysis, with the object of discovering periodicities connected with the ebb and flow of the tides, the lunar day or lunar months, nothing of marked character has been found. Certainly there is slight evidence of a periodicity connected with the times of conjunction and opposition of the sun and moon, and a maximum frequency near the time of perigee, but the effect of lunar stresses is comparatively insignificant. Ordinary earthquakes, and especially after-shocks, show a diurnal period, but we cannot say that there are more earthquakes during the night than during the day.
Many experiments and investigations have been made to determine a possible relationship between earthquakes and electrical phenomena, but beyond drawing attention to the fact that luminous appearances may accompany Magnetic phenomena. the friction of moving masses of rock, and that a temporary current may be established in a line by the disturbance of an earth-plate, these inquiries have yielded but little of importance. The inquiries respecting a possible relationship between adjustments so frequently taking place within and beneath that region called the crust of the earth and magnetic phenomena are, however, of a more promising nature. We have seen that at or near the origin of earthquakes which for several hours disturb continents, and occasionally cause oceans to oscillate for longer periods, we sometimes have direct evidence of the bodily displacement of many cubic miles of material. When this material is volcanic it is almost invariably magnetic, and we perceive in its sudden rearrangement causes which should produce magnetic effects within an epifocal district. In Japan, where attention is being directed to phenomena of this description, not only have such effects been observed, but unusual magnetic disturbances have been noted prior to the occurrence of large earthquakes. These may, of course, be regarded as mere coincidences, but when we consider volcanic and seismic activities as evidences of physical and chemical changes, together with mechanical displacements of a magnetic magma, it is reasonable to suppose that they should have at least a local influence upon magnetic needles. Another form of disturbance to which magnetic needles are subjected is that which accompanies the passage of large earth-waves beneath certain observatories situated at great distances from earthquake origins. At Utrecht, Potsdam and Wilhelmshaven the magnetographs are frequently disturbed by seismic waves, whilst at many other European observatories such effects are absent or only barely appreciable. To explain these marked differences in the behaviour of magnetic needles at different stations we are at present only in a position to formulate hypotheses. They may be due to the fact that different needles have different periodic times of oscillation; it is possible that at one observatory the mechanical movements of the ground are much greater than at others; we may speculate on the existence of materials beneath and around various observatories which are different in their magnetic characters; and, lastly, we may picture a crust of varying thickness, which from time to time is caused to rise and fall upon a magnetic magma, the places nearest to this being the most disturbed.
A subject to which but little attention has been directed is the effect which displays of seismic and volcanic activities have had upon the human mind. The effects are distinctly dual and opposite in character. In countries like Effects on the human mind. England, where earthquakes are seldom experienced, the prevailing idea is that they are associated with all that is baneful. For certain earthquakes, which fortunately are less than 1% of those which are annually recorded, this is partially true. A disastrous shock may unnerve a whole community. Effects of this nature, however, differ in a marked manner with different nationalities. After the shock of 1891, when Japan lost 9960 of its inhabitants, amongst the wounded indications of mental excitement were shown in spinal and other trouble. Notwithstanding the lightheartedness of this particular nation, it is difficult to imagine that the long series of seismic effects chronicled in Japanese history, which culminated in 1896 in the loss of 29,000 lives by sea-waves, has been without some effect upon its mental and moral character. Several earthquakes are annually commemorated by special services at temples. In bygone times governments have recognized earthquakes as visitations of an angry deity, whom they have endeavoured to appease by repealing stringent laws and taxes. In other countries the sermons which have been preached to show that the tremblings of the world were visitations consequent on impiety, and the prayers which have been formulated to ward off disasters in the future, far exceed in number the earthquakes which gave rise to them. In 1755 many of the English clergy held the view that Lisbon was destroyed because its inhabitants were Catholics, whilst the survivors from that disaster attributed their misfortune to the fact that they had tolerated a few Protestant heretics in their midst. To avoid a recurrence of disaster certain of these were baptized by force. In the myths relating to underground monsters and personages that are said to be the cause of earthquakes we see the direct effects which exhibitions of seismic and volcanic activity have produced upon the imagination. The beliefs, or more properly, perhaps, the poetical fancies, thus engendered have exhibited themselves in various forms. Beneath Japan there is said to be a catfish, which in other countries is replaced by a mole, a hog, an elephant or other living creature, which when it is restless shakes the globe. The Kamchadales picture a subterranean deity called Tuil, who in Scandinavian mythology is represented by the evil genius Loki. We have only to think of the reference in the Decalogue forbidding the making of graven images of that which is in the earth beneath, to see in early Biblical history evidence of a subterranean mythology; and it seems probable that the same causes which led to the creation of Pluto, Vulcan and Poseidon gave rise to practices condemned by Moses.
Perhaps the greatest practical benefits derived from seismological investigations relate to important changes and new principles which have been introduced into the arts of the engineer and builder when constructing in earthquake Building to withstand earthquakes. countries. The new rules and formulae, rather than being theoretical deductions from hypotheses, are the outcome of observation and experiment. True measures of earthquake motion have been given to us by modern seismometers, with the result that seismic destructivity can be accurately expressed in mechanical units. From observation we now know the greatest acceleration and maximum velocity of an earth particle likely to be encountered; and these are measures of the destructivity. The engineer is therefore dealing with known forces, and he has to bear in mind that these are chiefly applied in a horizontal direction. A formula connecting the acceleration requisite to overturn bodies of different dimensions has been given. The acceleration which will fracture or shatter a column firmly fixed at its foundation to the moving earth may be expressed as follows:—
a = the acceleration per sec. per sec.
F = the force of cohesion, or force per unit surface, which when gradually applied produces fracture.
A = area of base fractured.
B = thickness of the column.
f = height of centre of gravity of column above the fractured base.
w = the weight of the portion broken off.
With this formula and its derivatives we are enabled to state the height to which a wall, for example, may be built capable of resisting any assumed acceleration. Experience has shown that yielding first shows itself at the base of a pier, a wall or a building, and it is therefore clear that the lower portion of such structures should be of greater dimensions or stronger than that above. Piers having these increased dimensions below, and tapering upwards in a proper manner, so that every horizontal section is sufficiently strong to resist the effects of the inertia of its superstructure, are employed to carry railways in Japan. In that country cast-iron piers are things of the past, whilst piers of masonry, together with their foundations, no longer follow the rules of ordinary engineering practice.
After flood, fire, earthquake, or when opportunity presents itself, changes are introduced in the construction of ordinary buildings. In a so-called earthquake-proof house, although externally it is similar to other dwellings, we find rafters running from the ridge pole to the floor sills, an exceedingly light roof, iron straps and sockets replacing mortices and tenons, and many other departures from ordinary rules. Masonry arches for bridges or arched openings in walls (unless protected by lintels), heavy gables, ornamental copings, cappings for chimneys, have by their repeated failure shown that they are undesirable features for construction in earthquake countries. As sites for buildings it is well to avoid soft ground, on which the movement is always greater than on hard ground. Excessive movement also takes place along the face of unsupported openings, and for this reason the edges of scarps, bluffs, cuttings and river-banks are localities to be avoided. In short, the rules and precautions which have to be recognized so as to avoid or mitigate the effects of earthquake movement are so numerous that students of engineering and architecture in Japan receive a special course of lectures on this subject. When it is remembered that a large earthquake may entail a loss of life greater than that which takes place in many wars, and that for the reconstruction of ordinary buildings, factories and public works an expenditure of several million pounds sterling is required, the importance of these studies cannot be overrated. Severe earthquakes are fortunately unknown in the British Isles, but we have simply to turn our eyes to earthquake-shaken colonies and lands in close commercial touch with Great Britain to realize the importance of mitigating such disasters as much as possible, and any endeavour to obviate the wholesale destruction of life should appeal to the civilized communities of the world.
An unexpected application of seismometry has been to record the vibration of railway trains, bridges and steamships. An instrument of suitable construction will give records of the more or less violent jolting and vibratory Applications of seismometry. movements of a train, and so localize irregularities due to changes in the character of ballast and sleepers, to variation in gauge, &c. An instrument placed on a locomotive throws considerable light upon the effects due to the methods of balancing the wheels, and by alterations in this respect a saving of fuel of from 1 to 5 ℔ of coal per mile per locomotive has sometimes been effected.
By mapping the centres from which earthquakes originate off the coast of Japan, we have not only determined districts where geological activity is pronounced, but have placed before the cable engineer well-defined localities which it is advisable to avoid; and in the records of unfelt earthquakes which originate far from land similar information is being collected for the deeper parts of the oceans. Occasionally these records have almost immediately made clear the cause of a cable failure. From lack of such information in 1888, when the cables connecting Australia with the outer world were simultaneously broken, the sudden isolation was regarded as a possible operation of war, and the colonists called out their naval and military reserves. Records of earthquakes originating at great distances have also frequently enabled us to anticipate, to correct, to extend, or to disprove telegraphic accounts of the disasters. Whatever information a seismogram may give is certain, whilst the information gathered from telegrams may in the process of transit become exaggerated or minimized. Otherwise unaccountable disturbances in records from magnetographs, barographs and other instruments employed in observatories are frequently explained by reference to the traces yielded by seismometers. Perhaps the greatest triumph in seismological investigation has been the determination of the varying rates at which motion is propagated through the world. These measurements have already thrown new light upon its effective rigidity, and if we assume that the density of the earth increases uniformly from its surface towards its centre, so that its mean density is 5.5, then, according to Knott, the coefficient of elasticity which governs the transmission of preliminary tremors of an earthquake increases at a rate of nearly 1.2% per mile of descent.
- (J. Mi.)
Authorities.—J. Milne, Seismology (London, 1898), Earthquakes (London, 1898), Bakerian Lecture, “Recent Advances in Seismology,” Proc. Roy. Soc., 1906, 77, p. 365; J. A. Ewing, Memoir on Earthquake Measurement (Tokyo, 1883); C. E. Dutton, Earthquakes in the Light of the New Seismology (London, 1904); “The Charleston Earthquake of Aug. 31, 1886,” Ninth Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey, 1889; W. H. Hobbs, Earthquakes, an Introduction to Seismic Geology (London, 1908), “The San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, 1906,” Bull. U.S. Geol. Surv. No. 324; “The California Earthquake of Ap. 18, 1906,” Rep. State Earthq. Com. (Washington, D.C., 1908); R. D. Oldham, “Report on the Great Earthquake of 12 June 1897,” Mem. Geol. Surv. India, xxix. 1899, “On the Propagation of Earthquake Motion to great Distances,” Phil. Trans., 1900, A, vol. 194, p. 135, “The Constitution of the Interior of the Earth as revealed by Earthquakes,” Quar. Jour. Geol. Soc., 1906, 62, p. 456; 1907, 63, p. 344; C. Davison, A Study of Recent Earthquakes (London, 1905); The Hereford Earthquake of December 17, 1896 (Birmingham, 1899), “The Investigation of Earthquakes,” Beiträge z. Geophysik, Bd. ix., 1908, p. 201, and papers on British earthquakes in Quart. Jour. Geol. Soc.; T. J. J. See, “The Cause of Earthquakes, Mountain Formation and Kindred Phenomena connected with the Physics of the Earth,” Proc. Amer. Phil. Soc., 1906, 45, p. 273; F. Frech, “Erdbeben und Gebirgsbau,” Petermann’s Mitteilungen, Bd. 53, 1907, p. 245 (with maps); C. G. Knott, The Physics of Earthquake Phenomena (Oxford, 1908); Comte F. de Montessus de Ballore, Les Tremblements de terre: géographie séismologique (Paris, 1906), La Science séismologique (1907); Transactions of the Seismological Society of Japan; Seismological Journal (Yokohama); Bollettino della Società Sismologica Italiana (Rome); Reports of the British Association, containing the annual reports of the Committee for Seismological Investigations; papers in the Beiträge zur Geophysik and the Ergänzungsbände.
- The publications for 1880-1892 were termed the Transactions of the Seismological Society of Japan, and for 1893-1895 the Seismological Journal of Japan. The observations are now published by the Earthquake Investigation Committee of Japan, and edited by F. Omori, professor of seismology at the university of Tokyo.
- The chief Italian station is at Rocca di Papa near Rome. It is equipped with delicate instruments designed by its director, Giovanni Agamennone. The records since 1895 are published in the Bollettino della Società Sismologica Italiana, edited by Luigi Palazzo, director of the Central Office for Meteorology and Geodynamics at Rome.
- The chief Austrian publications are:—Mittheilungen der Erdbebencommission der k. Akad. der Wissen. in Wien (since 1897); Die Erdbebenwarte (1901-1907); and the “Neueste Erdbebennachrichten, Beilage der Monatsschrift Die Erdbebenwarte.”
- The “International Seismological Association” was founded at Strassburg in 1903, and publishes the Beiträge zur Geophysik, edited by George Gerland, director of the Strassburg station; the papers are printed in several languages.
- The records of the British Association stations are published (since 1896) in the Reports. Chile has a national earthquake service (founded after the Valparaiso earthquake of August 1906) directed by comte de Montessus de Ballore.