A Study of Recent Earthquakes(txt+pdf+epub+mobi电子书下载)

作者:Davison, Charles


A Study of Recent Earthquakes

A Study of Recent Earthquakes试读:



I propose in this book to describe a few of the more important earthquakes that have occurred during the last half century. In judging of importance, the standard which I have adopted is not that of intensity only, but rather of the scientific value of the results that have been achieved by the study of the shocks. Even with this reservation, the number of earthquakes that might be included is considerable; and I have therefore selected those which seem to illustrate best the different methods of investigation employed by seismologists, or which are of special interest owing to the unusual character of their phenomena or to the light cast by them on the nature and origin of earthquakes in general.

Thus, the Neapolitan earthquake possesses interest from a historical point of view; it is the first earthquake in the study of which modern scientific methods were employed. The Ischian earthquakes are described as examples of those connected with volcanic action; the Andalusian earthquake is chiefly remarkable for the recognition of the unfelt earth-waves; that of Charleston for the detection of the double epicentre and the calculation of the velocity with which the vibrations travelled. In the Riviera earthquake are combined the principal features of the last two shocks with several phenomena of miscellaneous interest, especially those connected with its submarine foci. The Japanese earthquake is distinguished from others by its extraordinary fault-scarp and the very numerous shocks that followed it. The Hereford earthquake is a typical example of a twin earthquake, and provided many observations on the sound phenomena; while the Inverness earthquakes are important on account of their connection with the growth of a well-known fault. The great Indian earthquake owns few, if any, rivals within historical times, whether we consider the intensity of the disturbance or the diversity and interest of the phenomena displayed by it—the widespread changes in the earth's crust, both superficial and deep-seated, and the tracking of the unfelt pulsations completely round the globe.TERMS AND DEFINITIONS.

Some terms are of such frequent use in describing earthquakes that it will be convenient to group them here for reference, others more rarely employed being introduced as they are required.

An earthquake is caused by a sudden displacement of the material which composes the earth's interior. The displacement gives rise to series of waves, which are propagated outwards in all directions, and which, when they reach the surface, produce the sensations known to us as those of an earthquake.

The region within which the displacement occurs is sometimes called the hypocentre, but more frequently the seismic focus or simply the focus. The portion of the earth's surface which is vertically above the seismic focus is called the epicentre. The focus and epicentre are often spoken of for convenience as if they were points, and they may then be regarded as the centres of the region and area in which the intensity was greatest. This is not quite accurate, but to attempt a more exact definition would at present be out of place.

An isoseismal line is a curve which passes through all points at which the intensity of the shock was the same. It is but rarely that the absolute intensity at any point of an isoseismal line can be ascertained, and only one example is given in this volume. As a rule, the intensity of a shock is determined by reference to the degrees of different arbitrary scales. These will be quoted when required.

Fig. 1.—Diagram to illustrate simple harmonic motion.ToList

In every strong earthquake there is a central district which differs in a marked manner from that outside in the far greater strength and complexity of the phenomena. As this district includes the epicentre, it is sometimes referred to as the epicentral area, but the term meizoseismal area is more appropriate, and will be employed accordingly.

The district over which an earthquake is perceptible to human beings without instrumental aid is its disturbed area. In like manner, that over which the earthquake-sound is heard is the sound-area.

A great earthquake never occurs alone. It is merely the most prominent member of a group of shocks of greater or less intensity, and is known as the principal shock or earthquake, while the others are called minor or accessory shocks, and fore-shocks or after-shocks according as they occur before or after the principal earthquake. When the sound only is heard, without an accompanying tremor being anywhere perceptible, it is more accurately called an earth-sound, but is frequently for convenience numbered among the minor shocks.

The movement of the ground during a vibration of the simplest character (known as simple harmonic motion) is represented in Fig. 1. The pointer of the recording seismograph is here supposed to oscillate along a line at right angles to AB, and the smoked paper or glass on which the record is made to travel to the left. The distance MP of the crest P of any wave from the line AB represents the amplitude of the vibration, the sum of the distances MP and NQ its range, and the length AB the period of the vibration. From the amplitude and period we can calculate, in the case of simple harmonic motion, both the maximum velocity and maximum acceleration of the vibrating particles of the ground.[1]

A few terms describing the nature of the shock are also in common use among Italians and Spaniards. An undulatory shock consists of one or several waves, the movement to and fro being along a nearly horizontal line; a subsultory shock of movements in a nearly vertical direction; while a vorticose shock consists of undulatory or subsultory movements crossing one another in different directions.ORIGIN OF EARTHQUAKES.

Earthquakes are grouped, according to their origin, into three classes. The first consists of slight local shocks, caused by the fall of rock in underground passages; the second of volcanic earthquakes, also local in character, but often of considerable intensity near the centre of the disturbed area; while in the third class we have tectonic earthquakes, or those directly connected with the shaping of the earth's crust, which vary in strength from the weakest perceptible tremor to the most destructive and widely felt shock. Of the earthquakes described in this volume, the Ischian earthquakes belong to the second class, and all the others to the third.

That tectonic earthquakes are closely connected with the formation of faults seems now established beyond doubt. They occur far from all traces of recent volcanic action. Their isoseismal lines are elongated in directions parallel to known faults, and this is sometimes the case in one and the same district with faults that occur at right angles to one another. Indeed, when several isoseismals are carefully drawn, it is possible from their form and relative position to predict the position of the originating fault.[2] The initial formation and further spreading of the rent may be the cause of a few earthquakes, but by far the larger number are due to the subsequent growth of the fault. The relative displacement of the rocks adjoining the fault, which may amount to thousands of feet, occasionally even to miles, is the result, not of one great movement, but of innumerable slips taking place in different parts of the fault and spread over vast ages of time. With every fault-slip, intense friction is suddenly brought into action by the rubbing of one mass of rock against the other; and, according to the modern view, it is this friction that gives rise to the earthquake waves.

In most earthquakes, the slip takes place at a considerable depth, perhaps not less than one or several miles, and the vertical slip is so small that it dies out before reaching the surface. But, in a few violent earthquakes, such as the Japanese and Indian earthquakes described in this volume, the slip is continued up to the surface and is left visible there as a small cliff or fault-scarp. In these cases, the sudden spring of the crust may increase and complicate the effects of the vibratory shock.FOOTNOTES:

[1] If a is the amplitude of the vibration and T its period, the maximum velocity is 2πa ÷ T and the maximum acceleration 4π²a ÷ T².

[2] See Chapter VIII., on the Hereford and Inverness earthquakes.



Half a century ago, seismology was in its infancy. On the Continent, Alexis Perrey of Dijon was compiling his earthquake catalogues with unfailing enthusiasm and industry. In 1846, Robert Mallet applied the laws of wave-motion in solids, as they were then known, to the phenomena of earthquakes; and his memoir on the Dynamics of Earthquakes[3] may be regarded as the foundation-stone of the new science. During the next twelve years he contributed his well-known Reports to the British Association,[4] and prepared a series of instructions for the observation and study of earthquake-shocks.[5] The latter, it is worth noting, contains an outline, but hardly more than an outline, of the methods of investigation which he developed and employed eight years afterwards in studying the Neapolitan earthquake.

The history of Mallet's preparation for his great work is somewhat strange. No one else at that time possessed so full a knowledge of earthquake phenomena. It was, however, a knowledge that had little, if any, foundation in actual experience; for, when he was awakened by the British earthquake of November 9th, 1852, he failed to recognise its seismic character. Although this shock disturbed an area of about 75,000 square miles and was felt in all four parts of the kingdom, the paucity of observations and the absence of durable records combined in preventing the successful application of his new modes of study.[6] Nevertheless, with confidence unshaken in their power, he awaited the occurrence of a more violent shock, but five years had to pass before his opportunity came towards the close of 1857.

So destructive was the Neapolitan earthquake of this year (Mallet ranks it third among European earthquakes in extent and severity), that nearly a week elapsed before any news of it reached the outer world. Without further loss of time, he applied for and obtained a grant of money from the Council of the Royal Society, and proceeded early in the following February to what was then the kingdom of Naples. Armed with letters of authority to different officials, he visited the chief towns and villages in the meizoseismal area; and, in spite of unfavourable weather and the difficulties of travelling in a country so recently devastated, he completed his examination in little more than two months. It was a task, surely, that would have baffled any but the most enthusiastic investigator or one unspurred by the feeling that he possessed the key to one of the most obscure of Nature's problems.

Mallet's confidence in the accuracy of his methods was almost unbounded. His great report was published four years later; but he seems to have regarded it almost as a text-book of "observational seismology" and the results of his Neapolitan work as mere illustrations. His successors, however, have transposed the order of importance, and rank his two large volumes as the model, if not the inspirer, of many of our more recent earthquake monographs.

Fig. 2.—Isoseismal Lines of the Neapolitan Earthquake of 1857. (Mallet.)ToListISOSEISMAL LINES AND DISTURBED AREA.

The position of the meizoseismal area, to which Mallet devoted most of his time, is indicated by the small oval area marked 1 in Fig. 2, represented on a larger scale in Fig. 9. It is 40 miles long and 23 miles wide,[7] and contains 950 square miles. Within this area, the loss of life was great and most of the towns were absolutely prostrated.

The next isoseismal, No. 2, which is also shown more clearly in Fig. 9, bounds the area in which the loss of life was still great and many persons were wounded, while large portions of the towns within it were thrown down. Its length is 65 miles, width 47 miles, and area 2,240 square miles. The third isoseismal includes a district in which buildings were only occasionally thrown down, though none escaped some slight damage, and in which practically no loss of life occurred. This curve is 103 miles long, 82 miles wide, and includes 6,615 square miles. Lastly, the fourth isoseismal marks the boundary of the disturbed area, which is 250 miles long, 210 miles wide, and contains not more than 39,200 square miles; an amount that must be regarded as strangely small, and hardly justifying Mallet's estimate of the Neapolitan earthquake as the third among European earthquakes in extent as well as in seventy.DAMAGE CAUSED BY THE EARTHQUAKE.

As regards destruction to life and property, however, the Neapolitan earthquake owns but few European rivals. Less favourable conditions for withstanding a great shock are seldom, indeed, to be found than those possessed by the mediæval towns and villages of the meizoseismal area. In buildings of every class, the walls are very thick and consist as a rule of a coarse, short-bedded, ill-laid rubble masonry, without thorough bonding and connected by mortar of slender cohesion. The floors are made of planks coated with a layer of concrete from six to eight inches thick, the whole weighing from sixty to a hundred pounds per square foot. Only a little less heavy are the roofs, which are covered with thick tiles secured, except at the ridges, by their own weight alone. Thus, for the most part, the walls, floors, and roofs are extremely massive, while the connections of all to themselves and to each other are loose and imperfect.

Again, the towns, for greater security from attacks in early times, are generally perched upon the summits and steep flanks of hills, especially of the lower spurs that skirt the great mountain ranges; and the rocking of the hill-sites, in Mallet's opinion, greatly aggravated the natural effects of the shock. The streets, moreover, are steep and narrow, sometimes only five feet, and not often more than fifteen feet, in width; and the houses, when shaken down, fell against one another and upon those beneath them. As Dolomieu said of the great earthquake in 1783, "the ground was shaken down like ashes or sand laid upon a table."

Of the total amount of damage, not even the roughest estimate can be made. The official returns are clearly, and no doubt purposely, deficient, and obstacles were placed in Mallet's way when he endeavoured to ascertain the numbers of persons killed and wounded. Taking only the towns into account, he calculated that, out of a total population of 207,000, the number of persons killed was 9,589, and of wounded 1,343.[8] A few towns were marked by an excessively high death-rate. Thus, at Montemurro, 5000 out of 7002 persons were killed and 500 wounded; at Saponara, 2000 out of 4010 were killed; and, at Polla, more than 2000 out of a population of less than 7000.GENERAL OBJECTS OF INVESTIGATION.

The principal objects of Mallet's investigation were to determine the position of the epicentre and the depth of the seismic focus. If, in Fig. 3, F represents the seismic focus (here, for convenience, supposed to be a point), the vertical line FE will cut the surface of the earth in the epicentre E.[9] The dotted lines represent circles drawn on the surface of the earth with E as centre and passing through the places P and Q.

Fig. 3.—Diagram to illustrate wave-path and angle of emergence.ToList

When the impulse causing the earthquake takes place at the focus, two elastic waves spread outwards from it in all directions through the earth's crust. The first wave which reaches a point P consists of longitudinal vibrations, that is, the particle of rock at P moves in a closed curve with its longer axis in the direction FP. Mallet supposes this curve to be so elongated that it is practically a straight line coincident in direction with FP. In the second or transversal wave, the vibration of the particle at P takes place in a plane at right angles to FP. These vibrations Mallet, for his main purpose, neglects.

Returning to the longitudinal wave, Mallet calls the line FP the wave-path at P. The direction EP gives the azimuth of the wave-path, or its direction along the surface of the earth. The angle LPA, or EPF, he defines as the angle of emergence at the point P. If Q be farther from E than P, the angle EQF is less than the angle EPF, or the angle of emergence diminishes as the distance from the epicentre increases. At the epicentre, the angle of emergence is a right-angle; at a great distance from the epicentre, it is nearly zero.

Mallet argued that the direction of the wave-path FPA, or its equivalents, the horizontal direction EPL and the angle of emergence EPF, should be discoverable from the effects of the shock at P. The cracks in damaged buildings, he urged, would be at right angles to the wave-path FPA; overturned monuments or gate-pillars should fall along the line EPL, either towards or from the epicentre according to their conditions of support; loose or slightly attached bodies, such as the stone balls surmounting gate-pillars, should be projected nearly in the direction of the wave-path FPA, and their subsequent positions, supposing the balls not to have rolled, should give the horizontal direction EPL of the wave-path, and might, in some circumstances, determine the angle of emergence and the velocity with which they were projected. I shall return to details later on. For the present, it is clear that, in the destruction wrought by the earthquake, Mallet expected to find the materials most valuable for his purpose. Indeed, so obvious did this mode of examination appear to him, that he could not conceal his surprise at the blindness of his predecessors. They seem, he says, "to have been perfectly unconscious that in the fractured walls and overthrown objects scattered in all directions beneath their eyes, they had the most precious data for determining the velocities and directions of the shocks that produced them."POSITION OF THE EPICENTRE.

Mallet's Method of Determining the Position of the Epicentre.—In many cases the examination of a damaged building or of an overthrown body served more than one purpose, providing materials for ascertaining the depth of the seismic focus as well as the position of the epicentre. For the present, however, it will be convenient to consider alone the method by which the latter object was to be attained.

Fig. 4.—Diagram to illustrate Mallet's method of determining position of epicentre.ToList

Nothing could be simpler than the principle of the method proposed. The horizontal direction PL of the wave-path at any place P (Fig. 4), when produced backwards, must pass through the epicentre E; and the intersection of the directions at two places, P and Q, must therefore give the position of the epicentre. In practice, it is of course impossible to determine the direction with very great accuracy, and Mallet therefore found it necessary to make several measurements in every place, and to visit all the more important towns within and near the meizoseismal area.

In a ruined town there are many objects from which the direction may be ascertained, the most important of all, according to Mallet, being fissures in walls that are fractured but not overthrown. He regarded such fissures, indeed, as "the sheet-anchor, as respects direction of wave-path, to the seismologist in the field," and at least three out of every four of his determinations of the direction were made by their means. If the buildings are detached and large, simple and symmetrical in form, well built and not too much injured, the fissures in the walls should, he argued, occur along lines at right angles to the wave-path, whether that path be parallel or inclined to the principal axis of the building. Cracks in the floors and ceilings should also be similarly directed, and provide evidence which Mallet regarded as only second in value to that given by the walls.

Fig. 5.—Plan of Cathedral Church at Potenza. (Mallet.)ToList





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