Chilean Earthquake

[AP]
Well, this is certainly going to be the longest post since this weblog of Darwin's Diary started with the departure of the Beagle from Devonport in December 1831. But with the terrible earthquake yesterday in Chile, I am posting the whole of Captain Fitzroy's account of the equally terrifying quake of February 1835. Although the posting is very long it bears reading in its entirety.
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The next few postings will cover Darwin's descriptions of, and reactions to, what he saw in Concepcion, coincidentally almost the epicentre of the 2010 quake. They do not make happy reading, and perhaps should prompt us to help all we can to assist the authorities in Chile to recover and rebuild.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Shocks of earthquakes were frequently felt, more or less severely; sometimes I thought that the anchor had been accidentally let go, and the chain was running out; and while at anchor, I often fancied the ship was driving, till I saw that there was neither swell, current, nor wind sufficient to move her from the anchorage. We naturally concluded that some strange convulsion was working, and anxious for the fate of Concepcion, hastened to Talcahuano Bay as soon as our duty would allow: arriving there on the 4th of March—to our dismay—we saw ruins in every direction.
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The following account of this catastrophe was subsequently obtained:—
At ten in the morning of the 20th of February, very large flights of sea-fowl were noticed, passing over the city of Concepcion, from the sea-coast, towards the interior: and in the minds of old inhabitants, well acquainted with the climate of Concepcion, some surprise was excited by so unusual and simultaneous a change in the habits of those birds,* no signs of an approaching storm being visible, nor any expected at that season. About eleven, the southerly breeze† freshened up as usual—the sky was clear, and almost cloudless. At forty minutes after eleven,‡ a shock of an earthquake was felt, slightly at first, but increasing rapidly. During the first half minute, many persons remained in their houses; but then the convulsive movements were so strong, that the alarm became general, and they all rushed into open spaces for safety. The horrid motion increased; people could hardly stand; buildings waved and tottered—suddenly an awful overpowering shock caused universal destruction—and in less than six seconds the city was in ruins. The stunning noise of falling houses; the horrible cracking of the earth, which opened and shut rapidly and repeatedly in numerous places;§ the desperate heart-rending outcries of the people; the stifling heat; the blinding, smothering clouds of dust; the utter helplessness and confusion; and the extreme horror and alarm, can neither be described nor fully imagined.

This fatal convulsion took place about a minute and a half or two minutes after the first shock; and it lasted for nearly two minutes, with equal violence. During this time no one could stand unsupported; people clung to each other, to trees, or to posts. Some threw themselves on the ground; but there the motion was so violent that they were obliged to stretch out their arms on each side, to prevent being tossed over and over. The poultry flew about screaming wildly. Horses and other animals were greatly frightened, standing with their legs spread out, and their heads down, trembling excessively.

After the most violent shock ceased, the clouds of dust which had been raised by falling buildings, began to disperse; people breathed more freely, and dared to look around them. Ghastly and sepulchral was the sight. Had the graves opened and given up their dead, their appearance could scarcely have been more shocking. Pale and trembling, covered with dust and perspiration, they ran from place to place, calling for relations and friends; and many seemed to be quite bereft of reason.

Considerable shocks continued to harass and alarm at short intervals. The earth was never long quiet during that or the next day, nor indeed for the three days following the great shock; and during many hours after the ruin, it was tremulous, and the shocks were very frequent, though not severe. Many of these, but not all, were preceded by a rumbling, subterranean noise, like distant thunder. Some compared the sound to the distant discharge of many pieces of artillery. These noises came from the south-west quarter, and preceded the shock by one or two seconds; sometimes, but not often, the sound was unaccompanied by any shock.

It was the general opinion that the motion was from south-west to north-east. Some whole walls, whose direction was south-east and north-west, were laid flat, the bricks still maintaining their relative position, though end-wise, without being scattered upon the ground. These walls fell, without exception, to the north-east.* Others were scattered as they fell; but still the greatest masses of brick-work were thrown towards the north-east. Walls standing in the opposite direction, north-east and south-west, suffered far less: none fell bodily or in masses; fragments were shaken or torn off; and some of the walls were very much cracked,† but others suffered little. Houses built of 'adobes,'‡ became confused heaps, and roofs fell in every where. The cathedral, whose walls were four feet in thickness, supported by great buttresses, and built of good brick and mortar,§ suffered more than other buildings. Adhering to the remains of the walls were left the lower parts of some buttresses—the upper parts of others—while in one place a buttress stood on its own foundation, separated entirely from the wall.

The city of Concepcion stands upon a plain, very little higher than the level of the river Bio Bio. The soil is loose and alluvial. To the eastward and northward lie rocky irregular hills: from the foot of which the loose earth was every where parted by the great convulsion, large cracks being left, from an inch to more than a foot in width. It seemed as if the low land had been separated from the hills, having been more disturbed by the shock.

Women washing in the river near Concepcion were startled by the sudden rise of the water—from their ankles to their knees—and at the same moment felt the beginning of the convulsion. It was said that the dogs avoided the ruin, by running away before it occurred. This, though known with certainty to have been the case at Talcahuano, wants confirmation with respect to Concepcion. Of nine men who were repairing the inside of a church, seven were killed, and two severely hurt. One of these poor fellows was half-buried in the ruins, during five days, with a dead body lying across him, through which it was necessary to cut, for his release. A mother, escaping with her children, saw one fall into a hole; a wall close to her was tottering; she pushed a piece of wood across the hole, and ran on; the wall fell, covering the hole with masses of brick-work; but, next day, the child was taken out unhurt. Another woman missed a child; saw that a high wall was tottering, but ran for her son, and brought him out. As she crossed the street, the wall fell, but they were safe; when the tremendous crash came, the whole street, which she had just crossed, was filled up with part of the ruins of the cathedral. Besides a waving or undulatory movement, vertical, horizontal, and circular or twisting motions were felt. An angular stone pinnacle was particularly noticed, which had been turned half round, without being thrown down, or leaving its base.

Persons riding at the time of the great shock, were stopped short; some, with their horses, were thrown to the ground: others dismounted, but could not stand. So little was the ground at rest after the great destruction, that between the 20th of February and the 4th of March, more than three hundred shocks were counted.

Much misery was alleviated by the good conduct and extreme hospitality of the inhabitants of Concepcion. Mutual assistance was every where rendered, and theft was almost unknown. The higher classes immediately set people to work, to build straw-covered huts and temporary houses of board, living meanwhile in the open air under trees. Those who soonest obtained or contrived shelter, collected as many about them as they could assist, and in a very few days all had a temporary shelter, under which they tried to laugh at their misfortunes and the shifts to which they were reduced.

At Talcahuano the great earthquake was felt as severely on the 20th February as in the city of Concepcion. It took place at the same time, and in a precisely similar manner: three houses only, upon a rocky foundation, escaped the fate of all those standing upon the loose sandy soil, which lies between the sea-beach and the hills. Nearly all the inhabitants escaped uninjured; but they had scarcely recovered from the sensations of the ruinous shocks, when an alarm was given that the sea was retiring! Penco* was not forgotten; apprehensive of an overwhelming wave, they hurried to the hills as fast as possible.

About half an hour after the shock, when the greater part of the population had reached the heights,—the sea having retired so much, that all the vessels at anchor, even those which had been lying in seven fathoms water, were aground, and every rock and shoal in the bay was visible,—an enormous wave was seen forcing its way through the western passage which separates Quiriquina Island from the mainland. This terrific swell passed rapidly along the western side of the Bay of Concepcion, sweeping the steep shores of every thing moveable within thirty feet (vertically) from high water-mark. It broke over, dashed along, and whirled about the shipping as if they had been light boats; overflowed the greater part of the town, and then rushed back with such a torrent that every moveable which the earthquake had not buried under heaps of ruins was carried out to sea. In a few minutes, the vessels were again aground, and a second great wave was seen approaching, with more noise and impetuosity than the first; but though this was more powerful, its effects were not so considerable—simply because there was less to destroy. Again the sea fell, dragging away quantities of woodwork and the lighter materials of houses, and leaving the shipping aground.

After some minutes of awful suspense, a third enormous swell was seen between Quiriquina and the mainland, apparently larger than either of the two former. Roaring as it dashed against every obstacle with irresistible force, it rushed—destroying and overwhelming—along the shore. Quickly retiring, as if spurned by the foot of the hills, the retreating wave dragged away such quantities of household effects, fences, furniture, and other moveables, that after the tumultuous rush was over, the sea appeared to be covered with wreck. Earth and water trembled: and exhaustion appeared to follow these mighty efforts.

Numbers of the inhabitants then hastened to the ruins, anxious to ascertain the extent of their losses, and to save some money, or a few valuable articles, which, having escaped the sweep of the sea, were exposed to depredators.

During the remainder of the day, and the following night, the earth was not quiet many minutes at a time. Frequent, almost incessant tremors, occasional shocks more or less severe, and distant subterranean noises, kept every one in anxious suspense. Some thought the crisis had not arrived, and would not descend from the hills into the ruined town. Those who were searching among the ruins, started at every shock, however slight, and almost doubted that the sea was not actually rushing in again to overwhelm them. Nearly all the inhabitants, excepting a few who went on board vessels in the harbour, passed the night upon the hills, without shelter: and next day they began to raise sheds and huts upon the high grounds, still dreading the sea. It was said, and generally considered certain, that every dog at Talcahuano had left the town before the shock, which ruined the buildings, was felt.

Without explanation it appears astonishing how the shipping escaped destruction. There were three large whale-ships, a bark, two brigs, and a schooner, very near the town, in from four to seven fathoms water: they were lying at single anchor,* with a good scope of cable:† one only was well moored.

With the southerly breeze, which was rather fresh at the time of the earthquake, these vessels lay to seaward‡ of their anchors, having their sterns towards the sea; and were left aground in this position. The captain of the port, D. Pablo Delano, was on board one of the whale ships at the time, with the hatches battened down, and dead lights shipped. All hands took to the rigging for safety. The first great wave came in an unbroken swell to the stern of the vessel, broke over and lifted her along without doing any material harm, more than sweeping her decks: and the slack chain dragging over the mud checked her gradually, as the first impetus of the wave diminished. Whirling her round, the water rushed out to seaward again, leaving the vessel stranded nearly in her former position. From two fathoms, when aground, the depth alongside increased to ten, as the water rose highest during the last swell. The two latter waves approached, and affected the shipping similarly to the former: all withstood their force, though the light anchors were dragged. Some of the vessels were thrown violently against others; and whirled around as if they had been in the vortex of a whirlpool. Previous to the rush of waters, the Paulina and Orion, two merchantmen, were lying a full cable's length apart; and after it had passed they were side by side, with three round turns in their cables. Each vessel had therefore gone round the other with each wave: the bow of one was stove in: to the other little damage was done. A small vessel* was on the stocks, almost ready for launching; she was carried by the sea two hundred yards in-shore, and left there unhurt. A little schooner, at anchor before the town, slipped her cable, and ran out in the offing as the water fell. She met the wave, unbroken, and rose over it as an ordinary swell. The Colocolo was under sail near the eastern entrance of the bay—she likewise met the wave, as a large swell, without inconvenience.

Many boats put off from the shore before the sea retired: some met the advancing waves before they broke, and rose safely over them; others, half swamped, struggled through the breakers. The fate of one little boy was extraordinary. A servant woman had taken refuge with him in a boat; the boat was dashed against an anchor, lying on the shore, and divided. The woman was drowned, but the half of the boat containing the child § was carried out into the bay. It floated, and the boy held firmly. He was picked up afterwards, sitting upright, holding steadily with both hands, wet and cold, but unhurt. The boy's name is Hodges: his father is an Englishman, well known at Talcahuano, and was an officer in the British navy.

For several days the sea was strewed with wreck; not only in the Bay of Concepcion, but outside, in the offing. The shores of Quiriquina Island were covered with broken furniture and wood work of all kinds; so much so, that for weeks afterwards, parties were constantly at work collecting and bringing back property. During three days succeeding that of the ruin the sea ebbed and flowed irregularly, and very frequently: rising and falling for some hours after the shock two or three times in an hour. Eastward of the island of Quiriquina the swell was neither so large nor so powerful as that which swept over Talcahuano. Having more room to expend its strength in the wider and deeper part of the bay may perhaps have been the reason why the sea swelled rapidly, without breaking, near Lirquen, in the south-east part of the bay; and why it broke over Tomé* with violence, though not so furiously as over Talcahuano. The great waves, coming from the sea, appear to have been divided, at the entrance of Concepcion Bay, by the island of Quiriquina, and turned aside both ways, one part taking its course along the Tumbes, or western shore, towards Talcahuano; the other across the eastern opening, towards Tomé. While the bay of Concepcion was agitated by the great waves, it was noticed by Captain Walford (from his house at Lirquen), that the Colocolo was swept to and fro remarkably. She was under sail near the eastern entrance of the bay. Two explosions, or eruptions, were witnessed while the waves were coming in. One in the offing, beyond the island of Quiriquina, was seen by Mr. Henry Burdon and his family, who were then embarked in a large boat, near Tomé; it appeared to be a dark column of smoke, in shape like a tower. Another rose in the middle of the bay of San Vicente, like the blowing of an immense imaginary whale: its disappearance was followed by a whirlpool which lasted some minutes: it was hollow, and tended to a point in the middle, as if the sea was pouring into a cavity of the earth. At the time of the ruin, and until after the great waves, the water in the bay appeared to be every where boiling; bubbles of air, or gas, were rapidly escaping; the water also became black, and exhaled a most disagreeable sulphureous smell. Dead fish were afterwards thrown ashore in quantities; they seemed to have been poisoned, or suffocated; and for days together the shores of the bay were covered with fine corvinos, and numerous small fish. Black stinking water burst up from the earth, in several places; and in Mr. Evans's yard, at Talcahuano, the ground swelled like a large bubble, then bursting, poured forth black, fetid, sulphureous water. Near Concepcion similar outbursts of water were seen, and similarly described.

By a marked part of the wall of Captain Delano's house, it was ascertained that the body of water reached twenty-five feet above the usual level of high water. It penetrated into the 'altos,'* and left sea-weed hanging to the remains of roofs, or to the tops of broken walls. But this must not be taken as the general height of the wave. A body of water, rushing upon a sloping beach with such force, would naturally preserve its impetus for some time, and run up the inclined plane, to a great height. Those who watched the waves coming in, considered them, while beyond the shipping, about as high as the upper part of the hull of a frigate; or from sixteen to twenty feet above the level of the rest of the water in the bay. Only those parts of the wave which encountered opposition broke, until within half a mile of the beach, when the roar became appalling. Persons who were standing on the heights, overlooking both bays, saw the sea come swelling into San Vicente at the same time that it advanced upon Talcahuano. The explosion in San Vicente, and the sea advancing from both sides, made them think that the peninsula of Tumbes was about to be separated from the main land, and many ran up the hills until they had reached the very highest point.

Strange extremes of injury and harmlessness were among the effects of these overwhelming waves. Buildings were levelled, heavy twenty-four pound guns were moved some yards, and upset; yet a child was carried to sea uninjured; and window-frames, with the glass in them, were thrown ashore upon the island of Quiriquina without a pane being broken! According to a register, kept by Captain Delano, it appears that his barometer fell four or five tenths of an inch between the seventeenth and eighteenth of February, and was still falling on the morning of the eighteenth, after which it rose again. So great† and sudden a fall, not followed by bad weather, may have been connected with the cause of the earthquake; but some doubt hangs over these observations. The barometers on board the Beagle, at that time in Valdivia, did not indicate any change. Still, at so great a distance, it does not follow that the mercury should move similarly; and (notwithstanding doubts excited by persons at Concepcion who had frequently looked at Captain Delano's barometer,) I am hardly inclined to disbelieve the extract from his register which he gave me.

In a river near Lirquen, a woman was washing clothes at the time of the great shock. The water rose instantaneously, from her feet half way up her legs; and then subsided gradually to its usual level. It became very muddy at the same time. On the sea-beach the water swelled up to high-water mark, at the time of the shock, without having previously retired. It then began to retire, and continued falling about half an hour, before a great wave was seen approaching.

For some days after the devastation the sea did not rise to its usual marks, by four or five feet vertically. Some thought the land had been elevated, but the common and prevailing idea was, that the sea had retired. This alteration gradually diminished, till, in the middle of April, there was a difference of only two feet between the existing, and former high-water marks. The proof that the land had been raised exists in the fact, that the island of Santa Maria was upheaved some feet more than other places.

In going through the narrow passage which separates Quiriquina from Tumbes, the great waves had swept the steep shores to a height of thirty feet (vertically) above high-water mark; but this elevation was attained, in all probability, only at the sides of the passage, where the water met with more obstruction, and therefore washed up higher. That passage is nearly one mile in width, and has ten fathoms water in the middle; but the rocks on the western side diminish its navigable width to half a mile.

Wherever the invading waves found low land, the destruction was great, from those lands being in general well cultivated, and the site of many houses. The low grounds lying at the bottom of Concepcion Bay, particularly those of the Isla de los Reyes, were overflowed, and injured irreparably: quantities of cattle, horses, and sheep were lost. Similar effects, in an equal or less degree, were felt on the coasts between the river Itata, and Cape Rumena. Large masses of earth and stone, many thousand tons in weight, were detached from the cliffs, and precipitous sides of the hills. It was dangerous to go near the edge of a cliff, for numerous chasms, and cracks in every direction, showed how doubtful was the support. When walking on the shore, even at high-water, beds of dead muscles, numerous chitons and limpets, and withered sea-weed, still adhering, though lifeless, to the rocks on which they had lived, every where met the eye—proofs of the upheaval of the land.

Besides suffering from the effects of the earthquake and three invading waves, which, coming from the west round both points of the island, united to overflow the low ground near the village, Santa Maria was upheaved nine feet. It appeared that the southern extreme of the island was raised eight feet, the middle nine, and the northern end upwards of ten feet. The Beagle visited this island twice—at the end of March and in the beginning of April: at her first visit it was concluded, from the visible evidence of dead shell-fish, water-marks, and soundings, and from the verbal testimony of the inhabitants, that the land had been raised about eight feet. However, on returning to Concepcion, doubts were raised; and to settle the matter beyond dispute, one of the owners of the island, Don S. Palma, accompanied us the second time. An intelligent Hanoverian, whose occupation upon this island was sealing, and who had lived two years there and knew its shores thoroughly, was also passenger in the Beagle.

When we landed, the Hanoverian, whose name was Anthony Vogelborg, showed me a spot from which he used formerly to gather 'choros,'* by diving for them at low tide. At dead low water, standing upon the bed of 'choros,' and holding his hands up above his head, he could not reach the surface of the water: his height is six feet. On that spot, when I was there, the 'choros' were barely covered at high spring-tide.

Riding round the island afterwards, with Don Salvador and Vogelborg, I took many measures in places where no mistake could be made. On large steep-sided rocks, where vertical measures could be correctly taken, beds of dead muscles were found ten feet above the recent high-water mark. A few inches only above what was then the spring-tide high-water mark, were putrid shell-fish and seaweed, which evidently had not been wetted since the upheaval of the land. One foot lower than the highest bed of muscles, a few limpets and chitons were adhering to the rock where they had grown. Two feet lower than the same muscles, chitons and limpets were abundant.

An extensive rocky flat lies around the northern parts of Santa Maria. Before the earthquake this was covered by the sea, some projecting rocks only showing themselves: after it, the whole surface was exposed; and square acres (or many quadras) of the rocky flat were covered with dead shell-fish, the stench arising from which was abominable. By this elevation of the land the southern port of Santa Maria was almost destroyed: there remained but little shelter, and very bad landing: the soundings having diminished a fathom and a half every where around the island.

At Tubul, to the south-east of Santa Maria, the land was raised six feet. The waves did not enter that river's mouth until about one o'clock; and then in greater number, but with less force, six or seven having been counted. Might not this be owing to the meeting of the divisions of the great wave which passed around Santa Maria.

At the island of Mocha the shock of the earthquake was so strong that people could not stand. The sea washed over the rocks at the end of the island, higher than it had ever reached in a heavy gale of wind. Anthony Vogelborg was on one of those rocks, or rather on an islet at the south end of Mocha, at the time, with a party who were sealing. Their boat was hauled up on the top of the rocky islet, and, expecting to be washed off, they held by it in readiness. The boat was lying nearly east and west. During the earthquake some water in her bottom ran as fast from one end of the boat to the other as if some one were quickly lifting one end off the ground and letting it down again. It did not wash from side to side at any time. Two forked sticks were stuck in the ground, about three yards apart; another lay across them for hanging things to dry. These sticks also were nearly east and west of one another: and during the shock they waved to and fro till the forks touched, and the cross stick fell. Strong shocks were felt by vessels under sail near Mocha; and between Mocha and Concepcion, the same was experienced by several vessels, not only on the 20th, but during following days.

At anchor off Mocha on the 24th, a shock was felt by me, which resembled the sudden dragging of the anchor over rocks. Under way on the 2d of March, it was thought that a chain-cable was running out at the hawse. In one vessel they supposed she had run ashore: on board of another, that the ship had passed over a whale. Vogelborg thought that the land had been upheaved about two feet; and from his accuracy in other matters, I am inclined to trust to his opinion.

At Valdivia the shock began gently, increased gradually during two minutes, was at its strongest about one minute, and then diminished. The motion was undulating and regular, like waves rolling from west to east, but strong; and it lasted nearly ten minutes. There was no difficulty in standing or walking, but the houses waved and cracked. The stone church tottered, but was not injured; its roof was very light. All the dwelling-houses being strongly built of wood, withstood the shock. Most people thought the motion was from south-west to north-east, but Mr. Darwin and a person with him at the time, thought the reverse.

The river increased, or rose, at the same time, and rapidly fell again to its former height. In the port the sea swelled suddenly upon the shore to high-water mark, though it was then nearly the time of low-water, and quickly fell again. Both sea and river rose and fell frequently during the remainder of the day. The river never fell below its usual height, neither did the sea retire beyond its proper place, at that time of tide; but each swelled from time to time and again sunk down. This happened once or twice in an hour. After the great convulsion, other slighter shocks occurred at intervals of a few minutes during an hour. In the afternoon, at about five, a smart shock was felt, which made the people run out of their houses.* One man and one woman were drowned by the sudden rise of the sea near Niebla: it was supposed that they were upon the rocks gathering shell-fish. Excepting in this instance, no injury was done at Valdivia. No noise preceded or accompanied any of the shocks.

This great earthquake extended to the island of Chilóe, and probably still farther to the southward. The shock was there slight, but lasted during six or eight minutes; it was neither preceded nor followed by any subterranean noise. At about thirty-four minutes after eleven,‡ the beginning of the shock was felt. The motion was undulating and not strong. The swell of the sea was felt there, but I know not at what time. A man was going to leave the shore§ in his boat; he went a short distance to fetch something, and returning found the boat aground and immoveable: puzzled and vexed he went away, but had not gone many yards before his son called to him that it was afloat.

In the small port of Coliumo, close to the northward of Concepcion Bay, the waves rose about as high as at Tomé, nearly fourteen feet before they reached the shore. The little village of Dichato shared the general calamity; but, standing rather higher and more distant from the sea than Talcahuano, it escaped the ravages of that element.

At the mouth of the Maule the force and height of the waves must have been considerably diminished; for no particular effect was noticed at the time, nor were there any marks upon the shore by which the height of the wave could be afterwards ascertained. That the sea should not there have occupied attention is not surprising, when one considers the locality of La Constitucion, as the port and town are called. On level low land, at the south side of the river, lies the town; between which and the sea there is high land, and a distance of about a mile. The river winds round the northern promontory of the high land, and then fights its way to sea over a bar, on which there are always breakers. There are no houses on the seashore; and, without going half a-mile up the hill, the sea cannot be seen; naturally then, for some time after the town was ruined by the earthquake, the inhabitants would be engaged in saving and sheltering their property, rather than looking at the ocean. I could not ascertain whether the river had risen or not: and having previously heard that the waves were very powerful at the mouth of the Maule, I was a good deal surprised to find they had been almost unnoticed: but all attention seemed to have been engrossed with the earthquake.

A vessel, lying close under the promontory mentioned above, was obliged to move as quickly as possible, when the shocks began, so serious was the shower of stones which rattled down the hill and fell about, and on board of her. I was assured by the governor, by the chief pilot, and by other residents, that instead of the land having been elevated at all, they considered that it had sunk about two feet. The pilot said he had found two feet more water on the bar, since the great shock, and that he was certain the banks of the river were lower, though he could not say exactly how much. A rush of water might have shifted the loose sands of the bar; but whether the land had sunk seemed to me very doubtful. Certainly, however, it had not risen.

The island of Juan Fernandes was very much affected. Near Bacalao Head an eruption burst through the sea, in a place about a mile from the land, where the depth is from fifty to eighty fathoms. Smoke and water were thrown up during the greater part of the day, and flames were visible at night. Great waves swept the shores of the island, after the sea had retired so much that old anchors were seen at the bottom of the anchorage.

This earthquake was felt at all places between Chilóe and Copiapó: between Juan Fernandes and Mendoza. On the sea-coast, within those limits, the retiring and swelling of the ocean was every where observed. At Mendoza the motion was evenly gentle. Copiapó, Huasco, and Coquimbo felt similar, although rather more forcible undulations. Towns, and houses which lay between the parallels of thirty-five and thirty-eight, suffered extremely; nearly all were ruined; but northward and southward of those latitudes, slight injury was done to any building. In the parallel of thirty-three and a-half, Juan Fernandes suffered, yet Valparaiso, opposite, escaped uninjured.

As to the state of neighbouring volcanoes, so various were the accounts of their action, both after and before the earthquake, that I had no means of ascertaining the full truth; but I heard from Valdivia that directly after the earthquake all the volcanoes from Antuco to Osorno, inclusive, were in full activity.

2 comments:

Patricia said...

What a pleasant surprise to see an acknowlegment to the considerable scientific skills of Robert FitzRoy. He was a remarkable man of many achievements who has not had the recognition that he deserves. His Narrative was an epic work which highlighted the meticulous manner in which he tackled all the challenges in his life. This detailed excerpt must be of interest to anyone with an interest in earthquakes/Chile/geology. Anyone wishing to know more about his life should read a biography - the best being by H. Mellersh and John and Mary Gribbin. Thank you for bringing this dedicated man and his work to a wider public.

Roger R. said...

Thank you Patricia... I have sought from the beginning of the weblog 4 years ago to put Fitzroy's comments and observations alongside those of Darwin. Both brilliant men whose words need no 'editorial' addition. I'm glad you are enjoying the diary/journals.

Roger