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.

On the same day, says Humboldt, at a distance of more than 200 leagues, “the inhabitants not only of Caracas, but of Calabozo, situated in the midst of the Lianos, over a space of 4,000 square leagues, were terrified by a subterranean noise which resembled frequent discharges of the heaviest cannon.  It was accompanied by no shock, and, what is very remarkable, was as loud on the coast as at eighty leagues’ distance inland, and at Caracas, as well as at Calabozo, preparations were made to put the place in defence against an enemy who seemed to be advancing with heavy artillery.”

It was no enemy that man could deal with.  Fortunately, it confined its assault to deep noises, and desisted from earthquake shocks.  Similar noises were heard in Martinique and Guadeloupe, and here also without shocks.  The internal thunder was the signal of what was taking place on St. Vincent.  With this last warning sound the trouble, which had lasted so long, was at an end.  The earthquakes which for two years had shaken a sheet of the earth’s surface larger than half Europe, were stilled by the eruption of St. Vincent’s volcanic peak.


Northeast of the original crater of the Soufriere a new one was formed which was a half mile in diameter and five hundred feet deep.  The old crater was in time transformed into a beautiful blue lake, as above stated, walled in by ragged cliffs to a height of eight hundred feet.

It was looked upon as a remarkable circumstance that although the air was perfectly calm during the eruption, Barbados, which is ninety-five miles to the windward, was covered inches deep with ashes.  The inhabitants there and on other neighboring islands were terrified by the darkness, which continued for four hours and a half.  Troops were called under arms, the supposition from the continued noise being that hostile fleets were in an engagement.

The movement of the ashes to windward, as just stated, was viewed as a remarkable phenomenon, and is cited by Elise Reclus, in “The Ocean,” to show the force of different aerial currents; “On the first day of May, 1812, when the northeast trade-wind was in all its force, enormous quantities of ashes obscured the atmosphere above the Island of Barbados, and covered the ground with a thick layer.  One would have supposed that they came from the volcanoes of the Azores, which were to the northeast; nevertheless they were cast up by the crater in St. Vincent, one hundred miles to the west.  It is therefore certain that the debris had been hurled, by the force of the eruption, above the moving sheet of the trade-winds into an aerial river proceeding in a contrary direction.”  For this it must have been hurled miles high into the air, till caught by the current of the anti-trade winds.


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