Around the Samoa group the water rose and fell once in every fifteen minutes, while on the shores of New Zealand each oscillation lasted no less than two hours. Doubtless the different depths of water, the irregular conformation of the island groups, and other like circumstances, were principally concerned in producing these singular variations. Yet they do not seem fully sufficient to account for so wide a range of difference. Possibly a cause yet unnoticed may have had something to do with the peculiarity. In waves of such enormous extent it would be quite impossible to determine whether the course of the wave motion was directed full upon a line of shore or more or less obliquely. It is clear that in the former case the waves would seem to follow each other more swiftly than in the latter, even though there were no difference in their velocity.
Far on beyond the shores of New Zealand the great wave coursed, reaching at length the coast of Australia. At dawn of August 14th Moreton Bay was visited by five well-marked waves. At Newcastle, on the Hunter River, the sea rose and fell several times in a remarkable manner, the oscillatory motion commencing at half-past six in the morning. But the most significant evidence of the extent to which the sea-wave travelled in this direction was afforded at Port Fairy, Belfast, South Victoria. Here the oscillation of the water was distinctly perceived at midday on August 14th; and yet, to reach this point, the sea-wave must not only have travelled on a circuitous course nearly equal in length to half the circumference of the earth, but must have passed through Bass’s Straits, between Australia and Van Diemen’s Land, and so have lost a considerable portion of its force and dimensions. When wL remember that had not the effects of the earth-shock on the water been limited by the shores of South America, a wave of disturbance equal in extent to that which travelled westward would have swept toward the east, we see that the force of the shock was sufficient to have disturbed the waters of an ocean covering the whole surface of the earth. For the sea-waves which reached Yokohama in one direction and Port Fairy in another had each traversed a distance nearly equal to half the earth’s circumference; so that if the surface of the earth were all sea, waves setting out in opposite directions from the centre of disturbance would have met each other at the antipodes of their starting-point.
It is impossible to contemplate the effects which followed the great earthquake—the passage of a sea-wave of enormous volume over fully one third of the earth’s surface, and the force with which, on the farthermost limits of its range, the wave rolled in upon shores more than ten thousand miles from its starting-place—without feeling that those geologists are right who deny that the subterranean forces of the earth are diminishing in intensity. It may be difficult, perhaps, to look on the effects