Earthquakes, often of extreme severity, frequently visit the lofty and young ranges of the Andes, while they are little known in the subdued old mountains of Brazil. The Highlands of Scotland are crossed by a deep and singularly straight depression called the Great Glen, which has been excavated along a very ancient line of dislocation. The earthquakes which occur from time to time in this region, such as the Inverness earthquake in 1891, are referred to slight slips along this fault plane.
In Japan, earthquakes are very frequent. More than a thousand are recorded every year, and twenty-nine world-shaking earthquakes occurred in the three years ending with 1901. They originate, for the most part, well down on the eastern flank of the earth fold whose summit is the mountainous crest of the islands, and which plunges steeply beneath the sea to the abyss of the Tuscarora Deep.
Minor causes of earthquakes. Since any concussion within the crust sets up an earth jar, there are several minor causes of earthquakes, such as volcanic explosions and even the collapse of the roofs of caves. The earthquakes which attend the eruption of volcanoes are local, even in the case of the most violent volcanic paroxysms known. When the top of a volcano has been blown to fragments, the accompanying earth shock has sometimes not been felt more than twenty-five miles away.
Depth of focus. The focus of the Charleston earthquake, estimated at about twelve miles below the surface, was exceptionally deep. Volcanic earthquakes are particularly shallow, and probably no earthquakes known have started at a greater depth than fifteen or twenty miles. This distance is so slight compared with the earth’s radius that we may say that earthquakes are but skin-deep.
Should you expect the velocity of an earthquake to be greater in a peneplain or in a river delta?
After an earthquake, piles on which buildings rested were found driven into the ground, and chimneys crushed at base. From what direction did the shock come?
Chimneys standing on the south walls of houses toppled over on the roof. Should you infer that the shock in this case came from the north or south?
How should you expect a shock from the east to affect pictures hanging on the east and the west walls of a room? how the pictures hanging on the north and the south walls?
In parts of the country, as in southwestern Wisconsin, slender erosion pillars, or “monuments,” are common. What inference could you draw as to the occurrence in such regions of severe earthquakes in the recent past?
Connected with movements of the earth’s crust which take place so slowly that they can be inferred only from their effects is one of the most rapid and impressive of all geological processes,—the extrusion of molten rock from beneath the surface of the earth, giving rise to all the various phenomena of volcanoes.