Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/531

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515
THE CAUSES OF EARTHQUAKES.

my friends, for I could not bring myself to speak to any one of the dreadful foretaste of the hereafter I firmly believed I had experienced. On one of these occasions, when I felt myself falling from life, I saw a great black ocean like a rocky wall bounding the formless chaos into which I sank. As I watched in descending the long line of towering, tumultuous waves break against some invisible barrier, a sighing whisper by my side told me each tiny drop of spray was a human existence which in that passing instant had its birth, life, and death.

"How short a life!" was my unspoken thought.

"Not short in time," was the answer. "A lifetime there is shorter than the breaking of a bubble here. Each wave is a world, a piece of here, that serves its purpose in the universal system, then returns again to be reabsorbed into infinity."

"How pitifully sad is life!" were the words I formed in my mind as I felt myself going back to the frame I had quitted.

"How pitifully sadder to have had no life, for only through life can the gate of this bliss be entered!" was the whispered answer. "I never lived—I never shall."

"What are you, then?"

I had taken my place again among the living when the answer came, a sighing whisper still, but so vividly distinct that I looked about me suddenly to see if others besides myself could hear the strange words:

"Woe, woe! I am an unreal actual, a formless atom, and of such as I am is chaos made."

 

THE CAUSES OF EARTHQUAKES.
By M. DAUBRÉE,

OF THE INSTITUTE OF FRANCE.

THE causes of earthquakes have long been the subject of many conjectures. The numerous investigations of later years have contributed much to define their characters; and several data recently acquired tend further to make their mechanism clear. It is known that the shocks are by no means distributed at haphazard over the surface of the globe. The countries where the strata have preserved their original horizontal position, like the north of France, a part of Belgium, and the most of Russia, are privileged with tranquillity. Violent commotions are manifested particularly in regions that have suffered considerable mechanical accidents, and have acquired their last relief at a recent epoch, like the region of the Alps, Italy, and Sicily.

The tracts that are simultaneously disturbed by the same shock most frequently comprise arcs of from 5° to 15°, or from 300 to 1,500 kilometres. They rarely include a much more considerable fraction