The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire eBook

Charles W. Morris
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 432 pages of information about The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire.

Breislak made an approximate calculation of the quantity of ashes which fell on Vesuvius during this great eruption, and states the result as equal to what would cover a circular area 6 kilometres (about 3 1/2 English miles) in radius, and 39 centimetres (about 15 inches) in depth.


Among the notable things which attended this eruption, it is recorded that in Torre del Greco metallic and other substances exposed to the current were variously affected.  Silver was melted, glass became porcelain, iron swelled to four times its volume and lost its texture.  Brass was decomposed, and its constituent copper crystallized in cubic and octahedral forms aggregated in beautiful branches.  Zinc was sometimes turned to blende.  During the eruption, the lip of the crater toward Bosco Tre Case on the south east, fell in, or was thrown off, and the height of that part was reduced 426 feet.

On the 17th, the sea was found in a boiling state 100 yards off the new promontory made by the lava of Torre del Greco, and no boat could remain near it on account of the melting of the pitch in her bottom.  For nearly a month after the eruption vast quantities of fine white ashes, mixed with volumes of steam, were thrown out from the crater; the clouds thus generated were condensed into heavy rain, and large tracts of the Vesuvian slopes were deluged with volcanic mud.  It filled ravines, such as Fosso Grande, and concreted and hardened there into pumiceous tufa—­a very instructive phenomenon.

Immense injury was done to the rich territory of Somma, Ottajano and Bosco by heavy rains, which swept along cinders, broke up the road and bridges, and overturned trees and houses for the space of fifteen days.

There were few years during the nineteenth century in which Vesuvius did not show symptoms of its internal fires, and at intervals it manifested much activity, though not equaling the terrible eruptions of its past history.  The severest eruptions in that century were those of 1871 and 1876.  In the first a sudden emission of lava killed twenty spectators at the mouth of the crater, and only spent its fury after San Sebastian and Massa had been well nigh annihilated.  Fragments of rock were thrown up to the height of 4,000 feet, and the explosions were so violent that the whole countryside fled panic stricken to Naples.  The activity of the volcano, accompanied by distinct shocks of earthquake, lasted for a week.

In 1876, for three weeks together, lava streamed down the side of Vesuvius, sweeping away the village of Cercolo and running nearly to the sea at Ponte Maddaloni.  There were then formed ten small craters within the greater one.  But these were united by a later eruption in 1888, and pressure from beneath formed a vast cone where they had been.


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The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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