Ships and Seaquakes 1800s


Ships Hit By Seaquakes 1800s

Mid Ocean Ridge

by Capt. David Williams

science article about how seaquakes cause whale strandings (free pdf file)
seaquake solutions to previous whale strandings

1755 Nov 01:  The king’s Ambassador at the Court of Portugal wrote to his Majesty to acquaint him that on the 1st of November an Earthquake happened at Lisbon that destroyed most of the houses and public buildings, and killed upwards of 100,000 people. Seaquakes-1800s.

Capt. Charles Eliot, of the Bristow Galley, who arrived a few days ago in the River of Lisbon, reports that while at sea 66 miles from the Rocks of Lisbon (38; 54 N 11; 15 W) he heard a noise that sounded like casks rolling about the deck. The noise increased to be very loud and the ship seemed as if it were striking sunken rocks. After inspection, he found deep water and no leaks. As the rumbling still continued, he ordered the long boat ready to launch. The shocking sensation lasted about 7 to 8 minutes.*

Capt. Clark, of the Mary, writes that in Latitude 56; 24 N, between 9 and 10 am, they felt an earthquake at sea, which shattered the ship is such a manner as to overturn the compass in the binnacle, and break most of their earthen-ware, china, and bottles, and strained the ship very much, as if it had struck on the ground, and cracked the seams of the deck, which afterwards leaked although quite tight before. The quaking lasted about 8 minutes.

Ref: Whitehall Evening Post, (seaquakes 1800s) November 27-29, 1755 No. 1523 * (1755-Nov-01)

1810 Nov 29:  The Majesty’s frigate Salsette being about nine leagues (50 km) S.W. by W. (true) from the island of Cerigo, and ten leagues (55.5 km) south from Cape Matapan, the sky suddenly assumed a remarkably black and threatening appearance, which, however, spent itself before eight o’clock in heavy rain. The wind had changed during the shower from E.S.E. to N.W., where it continued the rest of the day, and very faint, with the exception of one guest, which will be again mentioned. At 11 A. M., solar time, while tranquilly standing to the southward, the ship was felt to quiver violently from stem to stern,—the masts, yards, and rigging partaking of the general tremor, and even the guns being strongly affected. The agitation, which commenced with considerable force, seemed rather of increasing for about two-thirds of its duration, and then gradually subsided till it became insensible. According to the general opinion, it lasted between two and three minutes; but, when allowance is made for the surprise occasioned by such an unusual phenomenon, a minute and a half will probably be the safer estimate. The sensation it produced will be accurately recognized by any person who has been launched in a boat over a rough beach of gravel; indeed, the resemblance was so alarmingly manifest, that the leads were instantly thrown overboard; but no bottom was found with seventy fathoms of line, and I have since sounded nearly in the same spot with 500 fathoms without reaching the ground. No peculiar smell was detected in the air, nor was there any ebullition in the sea, nor tremor on its surface, nor change of color; yet the water alongside had something of a fretful unnatural appearance, not easy to describe, the little waves suddenly rising and dropping as if their motion was arrested by some unseen impulse acting in a direction contrary to their course. It did not appear that any change had taken place in either the barometer or thermometer; but circumstances, unfortunately, prevented their being examined for ten or twelve minutes. Many persons afterwards asserted that this singular scene was accompanied by a hollow indistinct noise; but nothing of the kind was heard by the officers, who with me had been attentive observers of all that passed.

In about five minutes after it had ceased, we were assailed by a very sharp squall, accompanied by large hail, and by repeated flashes of forked lightning, with thunder, at the distance of a few seconds of time. The squall was transient, the musky appearance of the sky quickly vanished, and the afternoon was peculiarly serene and clear.

We afterwards ascertained that, on the same day, earthquakes had taken place both in Candia and in the Morea ; and as the ship was nearly in a line connecting the extremities of those countries, it was probably the same great convulsion which had extended throughout that space. The only accounts, however, that could be obtained were too loose to identify the shocks, much less to discover in which direction they had been propagated. It is remarkable that from two officers of the English garrison at Cerigo, who came on board the following morning, we learned that no earthquake had been felt in that island, though it forms such a connecting link between the above places, and though that which we had experienced must have been of very considerable violence, to be transmitted through a mass of water of at least 500 fathoms in depth. Slight shocks, I imagine, are seldom communicated, even through shallow water; for it has twice happened to me in Smyrna to have been wakened at night by smart vibrations of the bed, when nothing was felt on board, though the ship was at anchor only one-third of a mile from the house in which I slept, and though officers and sentinels were upon deck, by all of whom such an occurrence could not have been unobserved. Though very unlikely to have been connected with the earthquake which was felt on board the Salsette, it may not be un interesting to mention that, on the preceding evening, between 9 and 10 o’clock, several meteors, of different degrees of brilliancy, were seen; and that one of them, which emitted a long train of sparks, passed so near the ship that I heard the whizzing sound of its flight through the air, and, immediately after its disappearance, the fall of a ponderous body into the water. Seaquakes-1800s

Ref: The Edinburgh Journal of Science, (seaquakes 1800s) Volume 5, by Sir David Brewster Page 222. (1810-Nov-29)

1815 Nov 07:  Capt. Osgood, on his passage from Hamburg to Buenos Ayers, experienced severe shocks of an earthquake, or rather a seaquake, in the latitude of 1° North and longitude of 27° 30 West, which is about 100 miles from the small island of St. Paul in the South Atlantic Ocean. Its duration was about one minute, and caused much the same kind of tremor and rumbling to those on board, that the vessel would be passing fast over and touching hard upon a bottom of large round stones. The first idea occurred, was that the vessel was upon a shoal, though we had no knowledge of there being any thereabouts. It was very alarming to all on board. Time at 2 PM,  weather fair, and very pleasant.  American & Commercial Daily Advertiser – Apr 10, 1816 *(1815-Nov-07)

1823 Jul 27:  Another instance of an earthquake being felt at sea has been communicated to us by Capt. Miller, of the Layton. On the voyage from London to Bombay, the Layton being in S. lat. 35° 19′, not far to the westward of Tristran d’Acunha, at half past eleven P.M., a shock of an earthquake was felt so strongly, that it awoke every person in the ship; it was a trembling motion, similar to that produced by a ship forcing its way over a wreck or a coral bed. The hands were turned up, and every part of the vessel examined, but no injury of any kind could be discovered; the trembling was accompanied with a hissing noise. On the following night, at about half past two, another and more violent shock was felt, which lasted a few seconds, but not so long as the first. On the 31st, in latitude. 36° 51′, the Layton having in the mean time run between five and six degrees to the eastward, the Dutch brig Phelentait, bound to Batavia, was spoken with, and her master reported that the first shock, but not the second, had been felt on board his vessel.*— Ref: The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Miscellany, Volume 17 by East Indian Company, Wm. H. Allen & Company, 1824, Page 518 * (1823-Jul-27)

1823 Feb 10:  The East India Company’s ship Winchelsea, on her passage from Bengal to England, when in latitude. 0.52° N. longitude, 85°. 33′. E. experienced a shock similar to that of an earthquake. Every individual was alarmed by a tremulous motion of the vessel, which gave a sensation as if it were passing over a coral rock, at the same time a loud rumbling noise was heard, similar to the rolling of a butt along the deck. The agitation and noise continued two or three minutes. The captain, being in the round-house, looked out at the stern windows, but saw no appearance of any shoal, though, had there been one, it must have been visible, for the water was clear and smooth, and the ship is not going more than two knots an hour, it was considered out of soundings at the time. During the continuance of this phenomenon, there was no perceptible commotion in the sea, and the vessel was some hundred miles from any land. This remarkable phenomenon cannot be accounted for in any other manner than by referring it to some volcanic eruption, probably in one of the islands eastward of the bay of Bengal.*  (1823-Feb-10)

1824-Jan-26:  The Nearchus sailed from Huasco on the Coast of South America on 26th January, bound to Calcutta, and the same night at 9 o’clock, when distance from the land thirty-five miles, felt a violent shock of an earthquake. which lasted nearly 4 minutes. Ref: The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Miscellany, Volume 17 by East Indian Company, Wm. H. Allen & Company, 1824, page 572  (1824-Jan-26Next

1828 Sep 24:  On the afternoon of Friday last, a very unusual agitation took place in the waters of St. Mary’s Bay, Nova Scotia, at Bellevue Cove, about four miles southwest of Sissiboo River. At about half tide, without any visible cause, the weather being perfectly calm. the water of the bay began to swell and rage as if agitated by a mighty wind, and the surf dashed with tremendous violence against the shore. This might have been an undersea earthquake at ~5 magnitude or a heavenly body smashing into the sea. So violent was the surf, that a coasting schooner lying dry as the top of high water, was repeatedly floated and lifted up by successive surges, and until about half ebb, when the tumult subsided, and the water became smooth and tranquil as before. Our informant, Frenchman of respectable appearance, who was present at the time above mentioned, and who with much difficulty saved his vessel from being driven on shore, does not know how far this extraordinary agitation of the water extended, but from the appearance, he thinks it probable that it was the same. or nearly so, perhaps the whole length of St. Mary’s Bay. * (1828-Sep-24)

1828-Oct-18:   350 km downstream from the above event, 77 lost pilot whales entered the Harpswell River and were slaughtered. As reported in the Salem Gazette on October 21, on Monday forenoon of this week a school or shoal of large fish, some of them between 20 and 30 feet in length, was discovered in Harpswell river, on the eastern side of Harpswell neck. A few hardy fishermen of that town discovered them, and engaged in the chase, driving them up the river, and firing at them with musket balls. The alarm was soon communicated along shore; a whale! a whale! was the cry; and the water was is short time covered with boats, carrying sixty or eighty warriors to the battle, armed with muskets, harpoons, broad axes, hatchets, and whatever deadly weapon could be seized at the moment. Those who first dashed in amongst the school, fired at them incessantly and killed several, who sunk in the river where they still lie. The greater part were driven from the river into a cove, directly east of Harpswell meeting house, between Orr’s Island and Green Island. The water uas there shallow; and now commenced an assault and a method of fishery never before witnessed. The fish were known to yield a valuable oil like the whale. The largest would yield four or five barrels, worth 30 or 40 dollars. Some of the Harpswell people call this fish black fish, others pot fish. Both names are very appropriate, for the fish is black like a coal, and the head is the form of a pot kettle. Dr. Mitchell of New York, and other learned men, would say it is not a fish at all, for it has no gills, and like the whale, has a heart and lungs, and warm blood, and is viviparous. It spouts water through a large spiracle or hole in the top of its head. It is remarkable, that amongst all the confusion and peril of the battle, not a man should have been hurt in the conquest of such a multitude of fierce and powerful animals.

Ref: London Printed by H. WARREN, 345  Strand , and published by D. BURTON, same place. (1828-Sep-24)Next Seaquakes-1800s

1835 Feb 09:  At 10 hrs. 45 min., on board the barque La Couronne, of Liverpool, a shock was felt at sea in 0° 57′ south latitude, and 23° 19′ west of Greenwich.” See ” Comptes Rendus,” t. 6 p. 514, as quoted by Lieut. Maury in physical geography of the sea,” Note: From Lieut. Maury’s chart the sounding would be about 3,000 fathoms, and the inertia of the water 8,031 lbs, or more than 3 and half tons per square inch.  (link)   A submarine volcano broke out near Bacalao head, Isle of Juan Fernandez, about a mile from the shore in sixty-nine fathoms water, and illuminated the whole island during the night.*  (link)

Ref: L o n d o n ; Printed by H. WARREN, 345  strand , and published
by D. BURTON, same place

1835 Feb 20:  Effect of the Earthquake at Sea.—On the 20th February (1835), the same day that Concepcion, Chile, and nearby places were destroyed, Captain Whitton, in the whaling ship Nile of this port, was cruising for whales off the coast of Chile, in latitude 39° W. He felt the shock so sensibly that the spars and rigging over his head shook in such a manner that it was dangerous to stand under them. Thinking that the vessel had run around, he immediately wore ship and hove the lead, but finding no bottom with twenty fathoms of line, concluded it was an earthquake. On a subsequent visit to Talcahuano, his suspicions were confirmed, in the desolation and ruin which that once thriving port, then presented; as also in the fact, that the water in the bay was five or six feet lower than the usual depth. Captain T. states that he has been on the coast of Chili a number of voyages during the same month, and thinks he never knew such a scarcity of whales, fish, and fowls, as in the present year. It is the general opinion that the earthquake has had a tendency to drive them from the coast. Shock was very sensibly felt by Captain Cotton, of ship Loper, 600 miles from land.—New Bedford Gazette. (Army and Navy Chronicle Volume 1, 1835)  (link — see page 210).


Fearful Earthquake– The New Bedford contains the following account of the effects a most fearful earthquake, in Chili, Captain Whitton reports about the ship Coral 85 days from Talcahuana, the melancholy intelligence of the entire destruction of the city of Concepcion and Talcahuana by an earthquake, The first shock commenced at 20 minutes past eleven o’clock, and lasted, with but slight intermission, for forty-seven minutes; causing the hills and valleys to rise and fall like waves of the ocean. During the continuance of the first shock, which was much the most severe, I expected to be destroyed every moments; it was almost impossible to keep upright. Talcahuana is completely demolished; the buildings were not only shaken down, but the ruins of house, stores, were completely swept away afterwards by the sea, which retired about 15 minutes after the shock, leaving the shipping entirely dry, at anchor in the harbour.*  (link)

1835 Feb 22:   Extract from the log-book of the James Cruikshank, Capt. John Young, on her voyage from Demerara to London: At 10 hours, 15 minutes, a severe shock of an earthquake shook the ship in a most violent manner. Although it lasted about a minute, there was no uncommon ripple on the water. Latitude 18 degrees 47 minutes North; Longitude 61 degrees 22 minutes West. Weather calm and clear.  Army and Navy Chronicle Volume 1, 1835  * (link — see page 183)

1839 Sep 27:   The ship Claudine, from Havre, being on the open sea, in 31°41′ north latitude, and 44° 30″ west longitude, her crew felt a severe shock of earthquake, which lasted three quarters of an hour, by which the ship was violently agitated: two others less strong, then succeeded, interrupted by smaller shocks at intervals of from five to six seconds, frequently repeated. The noise accompanying each resembled that of thunder. The weather was fine and clear, and the sea tranquil, which did not appear to receive any peculiar impression. On the 9th of the following October, three small shocks were again felt at two in the afternoon, in 27° 37′ north latitude, and 31° 7′ west longitude *  (link)

1842 May 25:   Captain Meacom, of the Bark Olof , arrived at New York, reports a heavy shock of an earthquake on the 25th of May, in latitude 97 13, longitude 102 east . — The vessel shook violently, and trembled as if the mast would fail out . They threw the deep sea lead over, but found no bottom , although they let out 120 fathoms line. (Link) No latitude direction

1843 Apr 14:  Shamrock an express steamer, which sailed from Warrant Port, was obliged to put back in consequence of having experienced a shock of an earthquake at the mouth of the harbour. The same journal adds, that several correspondents state that the shock was distinctly felt at Kilkeel.  (link) Next

1843 Jun 26:  During the terrible earthquake which destroyed the rich and populous town of Pointe ou Pitre, on the Island of Guadaloupe, in 1843, the French war schooner Juvencelle happened to be within sight of the immense rock called Redondo, a very large fragment of which was seen to detach itself from the main body and plunge into the sea, which was boiling like a seething kettle. The Juvencelle, which had been going with a lead trade wind at the rate of seven knots an hour, stopped suddenly, as if she had struck a rock, and was violently agitated far the space of half a minute, although at the time in 90 fathoms of water. The American brig Galen, of Portland, Me., was also violently affected, and it was some time before those on board could persuade themselves that the brig had not struck on some shoal or rock not laid down in the charts, although she proved to be in water so deep that no line on board could reach the bottom. -San Francisco Prices Current, June 26. (link see column 2 from left) Next

1844 Oct 20:  By the arrival this morning of the brig Judson, from Demerara, we learn by Captain Russell, that on the 20th Oct, in latitude 19.3, longitude 64, at 11 o’clock, A.M., he felt a severe shock of an earthquake of 3 or 4 minutes duration, which caused the vessel to tremble as if going over a coral reef, being about 100 miles off the Island of Saba at the time.  (link) Next

1847 Oct 27:  A phenomenon, which was nearly attended by the most disastrous consequences, lately occurred in the Black sea. An Austrian steamer, of Lloyd’s company, the Stomdoul, was proceeding to Constantinople (now Istanbul Turkey), in a calm state of the weather, and was within an hour’s distance of Synope, when suddenly the sea opened under it, assuming the form of a vast tunnel: the waves, in closing, covered it almost entirely, swept the deck, and did the most serious damage. The shock was so violent that several leaks were sprung and the vessel was sometime in recovering itself from this terrible pressure and getting fairly afloat again. It rose, however, after some pitching; but injured to such an extent, that if another shock had taken place it would inevitably have been lost, ship and cargo. It was with the greatest difficulty that it reached the port of Synope to refit; after which it proceeded to Constantinople, where it arrived safe and sound. Those who were witnesses of this accident thought at first it might have originated in an earthquake; but nothing of the sort has occurred elsewhere. It must be admitted that some submarine dislodgment opened under the ribs of the vessel an abyss into which the waves rushed, and in this way they formed a gulf, in which she narrowly escaped being smashed and up. (New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian, Volume IV, Issue 234, 27 October 1847, Page 3) (link) Next

1849 Sep 16:  There was an earthquake at Burra-Burra, in South Australia, where the noise is said to have resembled the rolling of heavy carriages. The shock was followed by a flash of lightning that illumined the whole atmosphere. Another feature of these phenomena is the upheaval of the ground observed during the prevalence of most earthquakes, which is one cause of the sea retiring, another being the suction of the approaching wave when the centre of the convulsion has been removed from the shore. During the great earthquake at Lisbon the bar at the mouth of the Tagus was laid bare by the upheaval, and the master of a vessel, lying in that river at the time, stated that his large anchor was thrown up from the bottom, and seemed to swim on the surface of the water. Other results of the upward movement during this catastrophe were observed elsewhere. The water in a pond at Dunstal, in Suftblk, was jerked up into the form of a pyramid. At some places the water was tossed out of the wells. At Loch Lomond a large stone was forced out of the water. Rocks were raised into the air from the bottom of the Atlantic, and on board a vessel, about forty leagues from the island of St. Vincent in the West Indies, the anchors, which were lashed.  (see highlighted text link) Next

1850 Dec 16:  At 1:30 am, whaling ship Messenger (38° S-96° W 838 miles west of Chile) reports fearful trembling and heaving of the water. Ship “trembling and shaking awfully.” Three shocks.  It was about half-past one in the morning, and the ship was running on her course with very pleasant weather, the captain of suddenly alarmed when the ship trembling and shaking awfully; for first thought I concluded we had brought up upon an unknown reef,but found it was an earthquake or seaquake; we experienced three shocks at intervals of about 39 or 40 seconds. A similar occurrence is thus noted in the New Orleans Picayune of the 3rd instant: The barque Panama, Capt. Graves, which arrived here yesterday from Rio de Janeiro, which port she felt on the July 26, reports having on the 23 rd ult., while off the Grand Cayman Islands, felt a severe shock of an earthquake, which shook has vessel very much. (American & Commercial Daily Advertiser – Sep 8, 1851)* (link)

1852 Jan 01:  US Navy sloop-of-war, Falmouth was near Vancouver Island (48; 13 N.  127; 12 W) when a severe shock of earthquake was felt, lasting about twenty seconds, and accompanied by a loud, rumbling noise resembling thunder. The ship shook and trembled violently. the feeling was similar to that felt in railroad cars running over a very rough track. Ship actually located in seismic zone 80 miles from Endeavour Seamount.* (link) (link)

1852 Mar 12:   In latitude 32, longitude 144 E, spoke whale ship John and Elizabeth of New London, on cruise, all well; oil not stated. She reported having experienced a severe shock of an earthquake about one month previous. He had steered to make Grampus Island, and found about 30 fathoms on its former location. Supposed it had been sunk as his chronometer was correct. Capt. Haddock of the Glenlyon, also reports having made south island, and steered for another Island laid down on the chart which he could not find. It supposed it also has been submerged. Ref: Daily Alta California, Volume 3, Number 102, 12 April 1852  (link) No Latitude direction

1852 Dec 21: THE EARTHQUAKE IN THE INDIAN ARCHIPELAGO. we have been furnished with the following extract from the log of the ship A. J. Kerr. Captain Garner, then on her way from Lombok to Singapore, from which it will be seen that a severe shock was experienced on board that vessel. The position of the ship at the time is given as being in latitude 9.48 south and longitude 104.13 east; December, 21 1862. At 1 a.m. was awakened by a tremulous motion of the ship, my first impression being that she had struct on the reef all banda were roused by it and much alarmed, the vessels trembling violently for about three minutes, when it subsided. Attributed it to the shock of an earthquake. The following additional particulars regarding the fearful convulsions of nature which occurred at Banda in November and December last are taken from the report of captain Van Vomer, of H.N.31.’s brig de heal at 7 o’clock in the morning of the 27th of November had a shower of rain from the S.W.; at half past 7 weather was fair. light clouds and a faint breeze from the W.; the ship lay in six fathoms water, with 35 fathoms of the lax board chain out, with the head the E.S.E.; felt a vertical seaquake, with an undulating motion running from the S.E. to the N.W.; the sensation was as if the ship had been lifted up, the deck surged under our feet, and everything loose on board shook; this trembling lasted for two minutes,(on shore five minutes.) From the deck, directing our eyes to the island surrounding us (Banda Neira and Lon those.) we saw columns of dust rising up everywhere, arising from the destruction of buildings, At the moment of the earthquake the barometer stood at 7.62, and the thermometer at 85 deg., thus nothing unusual; Gunung Apr gave out very little smoke. At 8 I sent a boat to the shore with all shipman dor Harden with a commission to the Resident to as certain the result of the earthquake. and if I could be of any assistance. At ten minutes past 8 noticed the water rise at once, but shortly thereafter, with a wave from the N.W. it ran out with an indescribable rapidity. The ship east then laid her head to the N.W., and as the water ran out more and more I let out chain to 19 fathoms, and when the water stopped falling we found only 3 and half water on sounding; the reef was entirely uncovered at about a brig’s distance from us. The water now rose with greater rapidity than that with which it had fallen, and it was astonishing to see how it surmounted everything on the shore and threw back on the beach the 85 prahus which had been set adrift and thrown together by its falling.Between the commencement of the recess of the water and the moment when it reached the highest point, when we sounded in seven and a quarter fathoms, there was an interval of 20 minutes, and the water immediately ran out again with astonishing rapidity in a frightened wave, which carried away with it and destroyed everything. The vessel swung frightfully and rapidly;20 minutes more elapsed until the water reached its highest point when we sounded in eight fathoms. The water having now risen higher, the wave was so much stronger and more terrible; it reached to the roof of the covered quay. under which a number of persons belonging to the Probus had sheltered themselves. but who were swept away by the wave and met their deaths;a number of Probus, large and small, were tossed over the quay and destroyed; the quay and that of the residency house were washed away. The fall of the water was now reckoned at 26 feet. Four times the water fell and rose in this frightful manner, always in the same direction and in the same interval of time. At half past 10 it began to abate, and for an hour more it took place at longer and longer intervals.”  Captain Gardner of the vessel A J Kerr reports a severe shock at latitude  9° 46 S, and longitude 104° 15 E at 1 am in which the ship trembled violently for about 3 minutes. * (link)

1853 Jan 01:  While off some fifty miles west of Cape Egmont, at the westernmost point of Taranaki, on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, at 8:30 p.m., we, onboard the brig Marmion, experienced a horrible shock of an earthquake, which caused the vessel to shudder and shake, just as if she had grounded on shingle spit; and indeed, so loud was the sound under us, and so great the agitation that I took it at the time to be a case of wreck with us, and knowing the sea was running rather high, hardly expected to reach the deck before she might begin to break. Eight other quakes were felt.*  (link) conflicting dates see below

1853 Feb 01: Captain Douglass of the Marmion, which arrived at Melbourne in the early part of February, reports having experienced a severe shock of an earthquake, followed by eight others, at 8.30 P. M. on the Ist Feb., in lat. 39 35 south, long. 173 3 east. The first shock was so violent that it shook the vessel so much that she has been in a leaky state ever since although previously as dry as possible. At the time, it appeared to all hands that the vessel was aground, but it afterwards proved nothing of the kind. Ref:  Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 5, Number 673, 20 May 1853*  (link)

1855 Jan 23:  The Anniversary of the Wellington Settlement was most auspiciously celebrated – a brighter or a calmer day never became on the harbor. In the evening, a light N.W. wind sprang up which increased gradually during the bright; and at 8 on the morning, it blew violently. At 11 minutes past 9 o’clock, p.m. the gale still blowing strong, we felt suddenly an uncommon and disagreeable grinding, as if the ship was grating over a rough bottom. It continued for more than a minute; the ship slewed broadside to the wind; we were then in six fathoms, so there was little doubt that it was an earthquake. Lights were seen running to and fro in all parts of the town. Lieutenant Jones and myself immediately landed. We found the tide alternately ebbing and flowing. From close observation on the barometer, I have no reason to believe that the effect before or after the principal shock was evident) it ranging from 29 30 to 30.00) nor that the calm preceding, or the gale attending, the earthquake, had any connection with the subterranean convulsions. We witnesses during the 48 hours following , every variety of wind and weather, yet with repeated shocks’ but although I would discount the atmospheric influence with the earthquakes, we had every reason to believe the latter has immediate local influence on the atmosphere, producing violent gusts after the shocks. But a more interesting and extraordinary phenomenon occurred : for 8 hours subsequent to the first and great shock, the tide approached and receded from the shore every 20 minutes, rising from eight to ten feet, and receding four feet lower then at spring tides. One ship was aground at her anchorage four times. The ordinary tide seemed quite at a discount for on the following day (24th) it scarcely rose at all. We returned to the ship at 2 a.m. m, the tide having at that time receded about 4 feet lower than at ordinary spring tides. We, H.M.S. Pandora, weighed anchor for Nelson, and in crossing Cook’s Straits we felt one shock in 26 fathoms at noon off Sinclair head (exactly the same feeling as when at anchor), and a slighter shock in 80 fathoms, off Queen Charlotte Sound.  (link) Next

1856 Nov 27:  Schooner Estremadura observes a mist rising up from the sea that changes to a “kind of boil” or “topping sea.” The Mercantile marine magazine and nautical record William Foster, 1858. * (link)

1857 Nov 28:  The Merchantile. Capt. Marshall, of the William kidston which left the Gut of Canso, Nova Scotia, November 19th, and arrived at Greenock Dec. 5th, also reports as follows, Nov. 28th, 1875 lying nearly becalmed, in latitude 52° 28 N., longitude 30° 28′ W. felt a very severe shock of an earthquake causing the metal capstans to make a ringing noise; the ship felt as if dragging over a bank of stones in a strong tide. The seamen on the fore part of the ship calling out ” the ship is striking the bottom,” I immediately threw the deep-sea lead from the poop, but no bottom. The first shock lasted about one minute, and after a lapse of 10 seconds, then followed another, lasting 15 seconds. Experienced strong breezes from S. to S.W.while crossing the Atlantic.*  (link)

1858 Apr 17:  Captain Gadd, of the ship Pacific, from New Orleans, reports: At 8:45 p.m. latitude 27°28. longitude 29°25, with sea perfect smooth. felt severe shock of an earthquake. It commenced with a noise like distant thunder and kept increasing until it sounded like a heavy cannonade some few miles away. About the fourth or fifth shock was near that it shook the ship all over as if she had struck the bottom, causing all the window frames and glasses to rattle and shake, and I see as if someone was rolling a large, empty desk about the deck. the shocks lasted about 12 or 15 minutes, but there was not one heavy one. The day have been very sultry and the sky had a very strange appearance at sunset. The earthquake sound was in  N and E direction from the ship. There was no swell alter the shocks, but on the contrary, the sea remained perfectly smooth.  *(link)

1858 Apr 24:  The Danish ship Hilalaya, which arrived at this port on the 15th, from Valparaiso, reports that on the third day out, April 24, in latitude 28° 54′ S., longitude 75° 59′ W., at 7 a.m,, at the distance of about 800 miles from land, a severe shock of an earthquake was felt, which lasted about 25 seconds. The ship trembled as if large casks were rolling over the deck. * (link see column 2 from the left)

1858 Apr 24:  Two ships, one 100 miles distance, the other 200 miles away, reported the same earthquake as experienced by the Hilalaya above. “The ship Gladiator, which arrived, reports having in the latitude of Coquimbo, experienced the shock of an earthquake. The brig Globe also reports having felt the same 200 miles at sea.” * (link–see bottom of page)

1858 May 11:  About two o’clock on the morning of the 11th, we experienced one of the severest shocks of earthquake that has been known within the memory of the oldest inhabitant, it lasted 50 seconds and the alarm and confusion was frightful. Many houses in Lima were cracked, tables, chairs, & danced merrily, and the faithful prayed loudly for mercy. The news from the South is unimportant. The ship Gladiator, which arrived, reports having in the latitude of Coquimbo, experienced the shock of an earthquake in the brig Globe also reports having felt the same 200 miles at sea.  *(link)

1858 Nov 28: “William Kidston” reports that while becalmed at 52-28N, 30-28W, the ship felt a severe shock of earthquake that felt as if the hull was being drawn over a field of boulders. * (link)

1860 Apr 09:  The brig African reports having experienced a violent shock of an earthquake at midnight 9th of April when 30 miles from Port Au Prince, Haiti. On the night of the 10th, she experienced a similar shock.    (link see bottom of page) Next

1860 Aug 05:  The schooner Progress, Captain Warre, belonging to Messrs. Shilson and Son, from Rio Grande, with bone ash, which arrived at Plymouth, reports that on the 5th of August, at half-past one p.m. in latitude 01.11 north, longitude 28.40 west, St. Paul’s Rocks (supposed to be volcanic) being 43 miles west, the effects of an earthquake were experienced. It appeared as if the vessel was launching or grating over a bank of’stones. The plates on the cabin table shook, and all hands ran aft, panic-struck, declaring that the ship was on the rocks, which was impossible for there was a heavy swell running, which would have soon made a complete wreck of her. On looking over the side, the master observed that the water was in no way discolored. The movement continued about three minutes. (Colonist, Volume IV, Issue 340, 22 January 1861, Page 3)*  (link)

1861 Aug 17:  Active Volcanoes Beneath the Sea must necessarily produce both Steam and Earthquakes; Submarine Eruption in very deep water and Submarine volcanic action near the equator has been for years going.

Ref: Illustrated London News p.157  (link) Next

1862 May 23:  Captain King of the Black Swan which arrived at Port Chalmers, from London, last evening, reports having, when at sea in latitude 48 ° 59′ – South, and longitude 127° 05′ East, on the 23rd May distinctly felt the shock of an earthquake which shook the ship violently, a peculiar sound being at the same time Heard as if the vessel were grating over the bottom. It would be interesting to know whether any similar phenomena have been observed by the masters of any other vessels in the Southern Seas about the same time. This event above the mid-ocean ridge south of South Australlia.  * (link)

1865 May 25:  The CoYA-This fine vessel look her departure from the Lizard on the 15th March She experienced very heavy gales from W and S W , at in leaving the channel.On the 25th of  May in latitude 41° 40 longitude 80° 2o East. two very severe shocks of  earthquake were experienced the first occurred at 11. 40 pm, and the other 12.15 pm, both accompanied with a loud rumbling sound the seaway  also greatly agitated on the following day it blew a complete hurricane for four hours from that time until the vessel made the port yesterday had very line weather, the barometer never having been lower than 30.40.*   (link)

1865 Jul 16:  Captain P. E. Lawson, of the bark Viking, of Sunderland, reports that on the 16th July, at 2 p.m., while in latitude 30° 18 north, and longitude 2° 32′ west, (which position is in the Mediterranean 165 nautical miles east of Gibraltar, opposite the Bay of Almeria) he experienced a severe shock, as though the ship had taken a shoal of rocks, and so severe was it that the vessel was shaken with great violence, and everything on board was similarly affected. This lasted about five minutes, when the shock subsided, and the vessel resumed her course, nothing the worse for the severe shaking she had undergone. The weather at the time was beautifully fine, and the water remarkably clear. Captain Joseph Horse, of the bark William Shillito, of Sunderland, who exchanged signals with Captain Lawson shortly afterwards, reports having experienced a similar shock at the same time. This may, perhaps, be the effect of the earthquake which occurred on the morning of the third day, and which totally destroyed the village of Fonda de Macchia, near Catania – Northern Daily Express.  * (link)

1865 Nov 17:  The ship Orient, 1032 tons, Capt. John Harris, the arrival of which with a cargo of wool has already been announced, and which sailed from Adelaide Nov. 10, brings the report that on Friday, Nov. 17, at 7.15 a.m., when in latitude 51°, 44′ S. and longitude 160° 49′, * with a moderate wind from N.N.W., and a clear sky, the ship commenced ringing the bells and trembling violently, as if she were passing over a rough bottom in shallow water. In an instant, all was confusion on board, as the crew and passengers thought she was settling down. The violent trembling lasted two or three minutes, with nothing visible. Sounded the pump well and found no water; and sounded over the ship’s side with the deep sea lead, but found no bottom. The conclusion arrived at by all on board was, that the ship had experienced the effects of a submarine volcano.—Morning Advertiser, Feb. 16, 1866. * (link)

1865 Nov 18:  Capt. Morse, of the ship Syren, Boston, U. S., which recently arrived at Birkenhead, says that on November 18, 1865, at 6 o’clock A. M., in latitude 24 S., longitude 173° 30′ W., while on his passage from Baker’s Island to the port of Liverpool, he experienced what he supposed to be a shock of earthquake. At first was heard a heavy, deep, rumbling sound, accompanied by a vibration of the ship, which increased in violence until the vessel seemed as though driven over a reef. There was a strong breeze, with rather heavy clouds ; the sea in the vicinity of the ship appeared as if suddenly fixed— a phenomenon which lasted apparently three or four minutes. The compass card during the time of the shock was rapidly revolving. The man at the wheel was violently and visibly shaken, and those on deck generally were scarcely able to keep their feet. One man engaged in connecting the hose pipe to a force pump upon the top-gallant forecastle was thrown backwards against the bits. The sound at first resembled distant thunder, and increased in intensity, till at its height it could only be compared to the deafening roar of innumerable pieces of the heaviest artillery.  Ref:  Marysville Daily Appeal, Number 107, 6 May 1866 * (link)

1866 Mar 22:  The ship Sylphide,Captain Geary, which arrived at Port Phillip,from Tome, reports that, on March 22, in latitude 21-19 S., and longitude 174-6 W.,the shock of an earthquake was experienced,which lasted for about three minutes. The sea did not appear the least agitated, and the effect produced upon the ship was as if she were running over a coral reef in smooth water, or over loose stones. While the shock lasted the trembling or vibration was uniform. The chief officer wason watch, and the helm put up, thinking the vessel was grating. The lead was cast, but no bottom could be found at forty fathoms. Three more shocks were experienced, making four altogether in four hours, but the three last one were much less violent in effect. * (link)

1866 Feb 11:  The ship Thomas Bell, from London experienced a violent shock of earthquake at 8:40 p.m. the latitude on the previous noon being 33°. 30 minutes N., and the longitude 18deg. 2min. W. Light variable northerly winds and light weather prevailed at the time. The tremor occasioned by the shock was very violent, and was as if heavy artillery had been drawn along the decks. The Thomas Bell was then about sixty nautical miles from the Island of Madeira. Variable winds and calms were experienced on the following day.(see mid-page* link)

1866 Sep 5:  The ship Imperial, from Kodiac, reports a violent shock of an earthquake at San Francisco at 4 P.M. Three houses and nearly all the chimneys in town were shaken down. The sensation on the ship was terrific. She seemed as though passing over rocks at great speed, while articles were shaked down which the most violent gales had not disturbed. In the southern parts of the island large rocks were torn up and thrown down the mountain. The Captain of the Imperial acknowledges the courtesy of the Russian Governor General, who sent a steamer to the ship’s assistance and took her sea without charge. Ref: New York Times    (link) Next

1867 Sept 07:  The Magellan Cloud, Captain Milne, arrived from the Fijis early yesterday morning. She sailed from Rewa on the 3rd inst., and experienced fine weather up to- the 9th since then she has met with a continuance of violent gales from the W. and W.S.W. A severe shock of submarine earthquake, which lasted upwards of a minute, was felt on the 7th inst., in latitude 35deg. 40min. S., and longitude 169deg. 20 minutes E. The shock was so violent that it caused the schooner to vibrate from end to end. The barometer at the time stood at 30.13. Captain Milne reports the brig Ocean a being at the Fijis. * (see bottom of page at this link)

1867 Oct 22:  The shock of an earthquake was felt on Tuesday evening last, on board the Lord Ashley, half-way between the Bay of Plenty and the Mercury Islands. The weather looked threatening, and the wind was coming from the N.E.  (Wellington Independent, Volume XXII, Issue 2587, 22 October 1867, Page 4) * (link)

1867 Nov 19:  Admiral Palmer reported about his earthquake and tsunami experience at sea . The weather was so clear, though extremely hot barometer, 30. While writing in my cabin, about 2:30 p.m., my attention was called by a sudden tremor seized the ship, increasing in intensity, accompanied by a sound resembling the grinding of a vessel upon a rough bottom, then gradually subsiding until it ceased: the whole lasting about two minutes. I recognized it immediately as an earthquake, and looking toward the town saw from the dust and confusion there had been destruction among its buildings. Concluding it was brought to me that the sea outside of the harbor had been seated about ten minutes, when the report had risen and was coming in a huge volume as if to engulf us all. I went on the deck, here the extraordinary spectacle of a heavy wall of sea, some twenty feet in height, apparently distant about three miles, was coming toward the with terrible power. The second anchor was immediately dropped and men sent to the helm, which was all that we could do, and then we stood to meet it as it advanced, with a skirmish line of tumultuous rollers in front. I saw, with some comfort, that it came from about south southwest, and would consequently strike the entrance of the harbor in an oblique direction. What a feeling o f awe, we awaited its arrival. It came rushing on, tumbling over the rocks that formed the entrance, carrying everything before it.  (link) Next

1867 Dec 18:  The Island of St. Thomas was scene of a disastrous earthquake accompanied by a fearful inroad of the sea. The steamship La Plata, belonging to the R.M.S.P. Company, had very narrow escape. She was met by the great waves as the lay off peter island. Her commander, Captain Revett, fearing that she would have sustained some injury, and thereby being unable to withstand a similar shock, ordered the crew to take to the boats and put passengers ashore.

To the Purser of the La Plata we are also indebted for the subjoined: “Left Southampton on the 2d instant and arrived at Peters Island on the 17th. At about 2:40 P. M. a most terrific shock or earthquake was felt; resulting in the loss of a number of lives. From this until a late hour the following day shocks continued at intervals of about half an hour. With the first shock several sailing vessels then in harbor were driven ashore ; some sunk. Ref: Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 34, Number 5216, 16 December 186  (link)Next

1868 Jun 27:  Those who arrived on the ship Rose of Australia, from Newcastle, New South Wales, which arrived at San Francisco, on 27th June, report that shortly after passing between Curtis and Macauley Islands, of the Kermadec group, in latitude 30 degrees south, longitude 179 degrees east, they experienced a severe shock of an earthquake, which lasted about four seconds and was accompanied by a low rumbling sound. Those on board thought the vessel had grounded. Another, but lighter shock was felt about seven hours after the first. * (link)

1868 Aug 03: Major Dutton describes about his most memorable seaquake experience, at the coast of South America it was shaken all the way from Guayaquil in Ecuador to Valdivia in Chile, the highest intensity being manifested in the neighborhood of Africa. The force of the quake in this town was very great, throwing down most of the structures and producing land slips.  (link) Next

1868 Aug 13: The steamship Santiago reports the almost total destruction of the port of Chala by an earthquake, which occurred on the 13th inst. at 4 P. M., the havoc continuing for about 45 minutes. At the moment the steamer was about to anchor, after a shock which was felt very sensibly on board, the sea receded, parting the chain of the vessel, and of the company’s hulk at anchor in the roadstead, and then returned a height of about 50 feet, covering the rocks about the anchorage and in the harbor, and sweeping up into the town for a distance of over 1,000 feet. The Custom House, Steamship Agency, Mole, and everything within range was swept away by three successive seas, preceded and followed by as many as twelve shocks of earthquake, each lasting from three seconds to two minutes in duration. Ref: Mariposa Gazette, Number 13, 25 September 1868  (link)Next

1868 Aug 17:  An earthquake in South America were experienced at sea by vessels which have recently arrived in this colony. The Noranside (which arrived at Wellington last week), when in latitude 44 S and longitude 107 E. (about nine degrees west and ten degrees south of Cape Leeuwiu), witnessed an extraordinary tidal phenomenon, which the captain at the time attributed to an earthquake. Two days after  the barque Hera on her voyage from San Francisco, experienced two smart shocks of an earthquake in latitude 12 degrees N.; longitude 145 degrees 21 minutes W., on the 17th of August (1868), which appeared as if the vessel had struck a rock. Ship located 825 miles SE of Hawaii.  * (link)

1868 Sept 01:  In longitude 110-20 W., latitude 19″ S., in the direct line of the Panama steamers, the barque Prospector experienced a severe shock of seaquake, which violently shook the ship as if she had struck the ground. A number of minor “shock” were felt for several days afterwards.* (link)

1868 Sep 11: The ship Broughton, which arrived at San Francisco from Glasgow, on the 2nd of October, felt several shocks of earthquake at sea, of which the captain gives the following account:— in latitude 20.15 north. longitude 123.22 west, the vessel encountered a shock of earthquake. Again on September 18, in latitude 30.21 north, and longitude 123′ west, the officers and crew felt a trembling, as if the vessel had grounded; and at ten o’clock the same night a fog arose, being clear overhead, accompanied with a smell of fire. This continued all night. At nine a.m., September 19, the fog cleared off, but the smell continued some time after. Again, in latitude 34.23 north, longitude 121.42 west, the air had the same smell as of fire. The weather was clear at the time, with a heavy sea running.” * (link)

1868 Sept 18:  The Seaquake was very severe off Cape Farewell on the night of the 18th ult. The brig Deva was running 7 knots at the time, and it brought the ship up stationary. According to the captain’s statement, sue appeared to be running over some rough rock, and the shock to the ship was something fearful. Everyone on deck was taken off their feet; every lamp in the ship was put out, glasses all shattered to pieces, whilst every timber in the vessel appeared to be tearing asunder. The shock lasted about a minute. — Dunedin Star, (link) Next

1868 Oct 09:  Submarine Earthquake in the Atlantic. Intelligence reached Liverpool yesterday (December 8) of the arrival at St. Helena of the barque Euphrosyne. Captain Christie reports that, when in latitude 26 deg. – 56 min. S,  longitude 52 deg. 32 min. E.. he experienced strong gales and squalls, with a tremendous confused sea running, with thunder and lightning from the N.W., the barometer rising and falling two-thirds of an inch at each squall, the lowest drop being at 29.20 The top-gallant yards and masts were bent down, and the vessel hove to for twenty hours under mizzen stay-sail, which was afterwards blown away. Captain Christie then bore away, and scudded under bare poles for four hours, the wind changing from E. to N.E., and from N.W.When the weather moderated, the masts and yards were sent up, sail set, and the vessel put on her voyage. At midnight, on the 8th and 9th of November, in latitude about 16 deg. 40 min. S., longitude 4 deg. W., the Sky suddenly became overcast with dense black-looking clouds, and in all directions was heard a noise like distant cannonading, while the sea was very confused. The compass vibrated very much, and almost lost its polarity. Several large meteors shot out from the heavens, and the fish jumped out of the sea and struck against the sides of the ship, which trembled so that the rumbling could be distinctly felt as well as heard. The volcanic action of the sea continued during the night until sunrise, when the weather became clear and settled. There was a slight breeze all the time of the rumbling from S S.E., but there was no perceptible variation in either barometer. Captain Christie is of opinion that the vessel at the time of the noise was passing over some fearful submarine convulsion. * (see middle of page link)

1868 Oct 18:   A “seaquake,” as it is called, was felt very severely off Cape Farewell. The brig Deva was running seven knots at the time, and it brought the ship up stationary. According to the captain’s statement, she appeared to be running over some rough rock, and the shock to the ship was something fearful. Everyone on deck was taken off his feet. Every lamp m the ship was put out, glasses all shattered to pieces, whilst every timber in the vessel appeared to be tearing asunder. The shock lasted about a minute.

Ref: Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXIV, Issue 3571, 29 December 1868, Page 2 * (link)

1868 Dec 16:  The Submarine Earthquake in the Atlantic. Although geologist believe that earthquakes and a volcanic explosion occur as often beneath the bosom of the ocean as on land, it is comparatively seldom that the effects of submarine disturbances are actually witnessed. Still less frequently have scientific men the opportunity of examining the phenomena presented during these disturbances. It sometimes happens that the crews of passing vessels have seen sulphurous smoke,flame, jets of water, and steam rising from the sea or have noticed a remarkable discoloration of the water and state of agitation, as if the ocean were boiling. At other times the signs of recent disturbance have been witnessed in the appearance of rocks or reefs where formerly there was deep water. (link) Next

1869 Feb 10:  At half-past 11 in the morning, two very severe shocks of submarine earthquake were felt this was in 36*53 S, latitude, and 168 28 W. longitude. The Mary Smith took in 80,000 oranges at Tahiti, and sailed, with Sydney cargo, on the 12th instant. Heavy rain and variable winds were met during the voyage. On Monday night arrived off the Great Barrier and encountered a strong gale from the N.E. Mr, L. D. Nathan is a passenger by the Mary Smith. Cargo: From Sydney— 9 half-pieces tobacco, 13 chests congou tea, 40 boxes candles, 5 cases pickles, 6 cases Scotch jams, 4 casks English vinegar, 1 case sardines, 2 cases lobsters, lease English confectionery, 4 cases starch, 1 cask currants, 4 hhds. coarse salt, 1 hhd. fine salt, 80 cases kerosene, 1 case salad oil, 9 hhdp. cabin biscuit, 60 bags rice, 1 case tin coffee, 2 cases sauces, 2 cases mustard, 2 cases pipes, 7 cases sultana raisins, 2 cases medicines, 2 cases vegetables, 40 basis flour, 4 cases cutlery, 1 case stationery, 1 case fish, hooks and lines, 4 trunks boots and shoes, 1 case saddlery, 2 packages ironmongery, 9 kegs wire nails, 1 case cigars, 7 packages kerosene lamps and glasses, 2 cases toys, 1 case rocking chain, SO tons coals, 2 crates crockery, 1 case engravings, 10 packages galvanized buckets and tubs, 2 cases tinware, 5 packages drapery, From Tahiti— 80,000 oranges.— L. D. Nathan, agent.(see at the middle of page * link)

1869 Aug 24: Severe Earthquake at Sea. — From the Valparaiso and West Coast Mail of September 2d we take the following particulars of a severe shock of earthquake experienced by the Pacific Steam Navigation Company’s steamship Payta, on the 24th of August, off the coast of Peru, about forty-nine miles from Arica, in latitude 18′ 17′ south, longitude 70° 21′ west: We are indebted to Captain Conlan, of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company’s steamer Payta, for the particulars we are about to relate: On the 24th last, at twenty-five minutes past one p. m., the Payta being in latitude 19″ 17′ south, longitude 70* 21′ west, or about forty nine miles from the port of Arica, and about three miles from the coast, and in seventy-five fathoms sounding, a most violent and prolonged shock of earthquake, lasting about thirty seconds, was felt on board, followed by a number of others, though less violent and of shorter duration, the last taking place about twenty minutes to four p. m. The sensation experienced on board at the time of the first shock has been described to us just as if the steamer bad been repeatedly lifted bodily up, and dashed down again with great force upon the water. Some idea of the force of the shock, and the danger to which tho steamer was exposed, may be gathered from the fact that glasses and crockery ware were thrown out of the stands and racks, the contents of a bookcase in the Commander’s stateroom strewn over the floor, and a massive iron safe in the Purser’s room was wrenched out of its position and moved to a distance of several inches. At the time of the first shock the commander was engaged below, and on reaching the deck he immediately ordered the vessel’s head to be put off shore”, which is here very high and precipitous, fearing that the shock might be followed by an earthquake wave. At the same time that the shock was felt on board, masses of loose material were seen to fall in succession from the peaks and points of the hills ringing the shore, and the sea, which at first were the appearance of a vast mirror, suddenly became agitated, spurting up all around the vessel in precisely the same manner as is caused when heavy rain or hail falls upon the water. Ref:  Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 38, Number 5784, 11 October 1869* (link)

1869 Dec 10:   Captain Christie, of the barque Euphrosyne, relates that when his vessel was in latitude about 16.40 S., and longitude 4 W., the sky suddenly became overcast, with dense black-looking clouds, and in all directions was heard a noise resembling distant cannonading, while the sea became tossed and confused. To these signs of agitation another was added of peculiar significance. The compass vibrated largely, and almost lost its polarity-a sure sign that a terrestrial disturbance of great extent and violence was in progress. Several large meteors shot out from the heavens–a phenomenon which can hardly be associated with the occurrence of submarine disturbance, unless we suppose that burning matter had been projected from some submarine volcano, and that the flying masses were mistaken by Captain Christie for meteoric bodies. The fish jumped out of the sea and struck against the sides of the ship, and the trembling of the vessel could be distinctly felt as well as heard. Captain Christie relates that the volcanic action of the sea continued during the night until sunrise, when the weather became clear and settled.  * (link)

1869 Dec 28:   Wellinton, New Zealand —  A slight shock of earthquake was felt at 3:45 in the morning. Two black fin whales were captured in harbor later that same morning.  (link) Next

1870 Mar 29:  Commander Nicholson, of the United States steamer Benecia, in a report dated the 24th, at Rio de Janerio, mentions that on the evening 9:55, while at about latitude 01-28S, longitude 24-40W, two very distinct shocks of an earthquake were felt. The ship was heading south -west, one-half west, when two large meteors were observed, one falling to the zenith from the south-east, the other from near the star  Compass to the west. Immediately afterward the two shocks were felt, the first lasted about four seconds and the other about three. The vibrations were distinctly felt, and were accompanied by a noise resembling thunder. The sky was clear at the time excepting a low bank of cumulus clouds in the SW. Soon after a thick haze obscured the horizon. (New York Times, May 24, 1870)* (link)

1870 Oct 31:  A shock of submarine earthquake was felt by those on board the schooner Amateur from Newcastle for Lyttelton, at 8.20 a.m on the 31st ult. The shock is described as being a strong one, and as lasting for three or four seconds, the direction being east and west. The vessel was about fifteen miles distant from the Kaikouras, South Island NZ, at the time. We have not heard of any corresponding shock having been felt on the land. * (pplink)

1870 Dec 25:  The barque Adeline Burke, which arrived at Lyttelton from Newcastle a few days ago, experienced a severe shock of “seaquake” at 4,52 p.m. on Christmas Day. The shock, which appeared to travel from N.E. to S.W.. lasted for four or five seconds, and is said to have been accompanied by a rumbling sound resembling distant thunder. It caused the vessel to tremble and shake with a force almost equal to that of going over a reef of rocks, the rudder especially being shaken with great violence, The barque was at the time not far from the West Cape, and the weather was very tempestuous, the waves being described as perfect mountains,” and coming up from the north-east.  Ref: Grey River Argus Issue 625 page2   (link1(link2)

In the same Day a severe shock of seaquake was experienced by the barque Adeline Burke, on Christmas Day, while near the West Cape, from the Newcastle papers we learn that the shock was also felt by the barques Union and Indus, in Foveaux Strait. The Chronicle of the 12th ult. says— Captain Stephenson, of the barque Union, from Otago, reports as follows— At 5 o’clock p.m., on the 25th December, when off Solander Island, in Foveaux Strait, position about 20 to the N.E., felt three smart shocks of an earthquake in succession, duration about thirty seconds. “The weather was cloudy, and the barometer low. The shock came from the southward. The barque Indus which was in company, and about half a mile distant, also felt the shocks. “As the shock appears to have been a very violent one, Captain Blake, of the Adeline Burke, stated that it caused the vessel “to tremble and shake with a force almost equal to that of going over a reef of rocks.” It is possible that the rocks on which the Laughing Water struck, and which is situated in what was formerly supposed to be deep water, may have been raised by its agency. It is also worthy of notice that a shock was felt at the same time at Cromwell and Queenstown. At the former place it lasted for a minute, and was described by a local paper as a rather long and continuous wave of earthquake, rather than a shock,” and at Queenstown, where earthquakes were common occurrence, it attracted attention on account of the length of its duration.Ref: West Coast Times Issue 1367 page 2  (link) Next

1871 Apr 30: Sea Tales- A Marine Volcano- An Eruption Under the Water

Through the politeness of messrs. C. A. Williams & Co., we are enabled to give the following statement of Capt. NEWBURY, of the bark Palea, in regard to a marine volcano seen by him in the mouth of April last, while on the passage to Yokohama, Japan. The position of the volcano. though not exactly given by Capt. NEWBURY, is in about latitude 30 north, and longitude 140 east, a locality near which the latest charts of this ocean do not indicate any islands or reefs.although somewhat to the northward of the supposed position of the volcano a doubtful island is laid down as Todos Los Santos. On the day in question, a rock was seen from the vessel bearing north-east by east. to the northward of which was seen a vast column of smoke and steam.  Ref New York Times * (link)

1871 Mar 23:  The Nelson Colonist says, the captain of the ship Euterpe, arrived at Bombay, reports having experienced two shocks of an earthquake at sea, in latitude 3 deg. N., longitude 55 deg. 33 min. E., on March 23. The ship had a tremulous motion, as though grinding over a hard bottom.  *(link)

1871 Jun 10:  The ship, Don Quixote of Calcutta, reports June 10th at 4:20 a.m. latitude 20 degrees and 30 minutes south longitude, 14 degrees, 40 minutes west, experienced a heavy sea squall which caused the ship to tremble violently. The motion seemed from east to west and lasted some seconds. In about 15 minutes, there was another shock, not so violent as the first but lasting longer. The sensation was as though the ship was moving over a rough bottom. The wind was southeast by east and had been moderate for some days before. The wind had been continually shifting all day following the shocks. The sea was agitated heavily. rolling from west and southwest. There was and had been, no wind sufficient to cause such, rough shocks.*


1871 Aug 19:  An earthquake at sea was experienced on board the brig Victory, while on her passage from Calcutta to Melbourne. It occurred on the 19th of August, in 4 deg. 47 min. South, and 98 deg. 36 min. east, at about half-past eight o’clock at night. The position above would place the vessel a short distance off the Island of Sumatra. There was a fine breeze at the time, the speed of the vessel being about seven knots, and the water was very smooth. The shock shook the vessel all over, and for about thirty or forty seconds felt to those on board as if traveling over a pebbly bottom.  *(link)

1871 Aug 27:  The ship Star of Hope, from Liverpool, reports having felt a shock that could only be produced by an earthquake, as will be seen by the following extract from the log : August 27th, latitude 24 degrees 8 minutes south, longitude 111 degrees 41 minutes west ; while at dinner heard a rumbling noise and felt a heavy jar, as though the ship had struck ; ran on deck, but saw no discolored water; this lasted about thirty seconds; a short time after felt a more severe shock, but of shorter duration; can only account for the above as being a shock of earthquake. Ref: Daily Alta California, Volume 23, Number 7877, 18 October 1871 * (link)

1873 Sep 16:  The schooner Mary Zephyr, from Shoalwater Bay, arrived in San ‘ Francisco. On September 16th, at 8:30 a m., in latitude 42 degrees and 40 , minutes north, longitude 125 degrees and 27 minutes west, we experienced a shock of an earthquake- We were moving at the time about six knots an hour, with a light northwest wind and a smooth sea, when it suddenly became ‘ very rough and commenced combing and breaking in every direction, and seemed to be running from every point ot the Compass at once, ‘ breaking over the vessel forward and aft and either side. It lasted about 15 minutes, when we passed into perfectly smooth water again, with scarcely a ripple to be seen, except in the place we had just passed, which continued to comb and break as long as, we were in sight of it.

Ref: Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 45, Number 7009, 20 September 1873 *(link)

1873 Oct 11:  A singular and unusual phenomenon at sea is reported by the steamship International, which arrived at this port yesterday, having left Trieste, Austria, while in latitude 35 18′ and longitude 50 16′ an explosion was heard under the vessel, the weather being fine and the sea calm. The ship’s crew were seriously alarmed, but no evil results followed. The noise is supposed to have been caused by some submarine earthquake.  (link) Next

1874 Nov 27:  Whilst on the voyage from Sourabaya to Queenstown, Yanikale, barque, experienced severe shocks from a submarine earthquake. Her position at the time was latitude 40 S., longitude 23 W., date June 19th. Four shocks were felt, the first being the most severe, lasting three minutes. The barque shook and trembled as if she had struck ground. The Zitelia, an Austrian vessel, capsized in a gale, on August 2nd, off Martin Sehizza; six lives were lost.(see in the middle of the page  * (Link)

1875 May 15:  Both earth and sea have been shaken recently by earthquakes. About the middle of May, several towns in the United States of Columbia were destroyed by earth convulsions of a terrific character. Just previous to that a shock of similar nature has been experienced in some portions of chili last Week our western States were visited by manifestations of that power which moves the solid hills and rocks the earth as in the hollow of the Master’s hand. Nor were these workings fo nature confined to the earth. They troubled the sea, and lashed the waves as if a tempest had passed over its breast. A vessels which arrived a New York from Manilla, Experienced the shock of an earthquake on the 4th of June off the West India island, which lasted fully ten minutes and was so violent as to alarm both officers and crew. The air was filled with a loud rumbling noise, and several submarine explosion were heard. The atmosphere was also hot and stifling during the continuance of the phenomena. The hardest of these shocks have occured in the neighborhood of the equator, and they have extended over a wide space from east to west. No doubt islands have been pushed above the water of the ocean by upheavals of the character experienced by the vessel which brought the late news to New York, while in other cases a totally different effect has been produced. Thus, the mighty forces of Nature are constantly producing and destroying.

Ref: News The Cambridge City Tribune (Cambridge City, Indiana)  (link) Next

1875 May 23:  A cargo launch was sunk during a hurricane at Valparaiso, and the master and his wife and seven children, who were on board, were drowned. A severe shock of submarine earthquake was experienced by those on board the Hamilton Ross, which arrived at New York from Manila in July last. On June 4, when in latitude 19 N., longitude 58 V., the shock and noise of an earthquake were felt and heard, and lasted about 10 minutes. The ship pitched bows under in the sea that was raised. A waterlogged vessel named the Louis, with both lower masts gone about 8ft. above the deck, and in a position dangerous to navigation, was passed by the Reine Adrienne on June 21, latitude 43 N., longitude 37 W. The ship Main Bhan, which was at this port last year, arrived at Liverpool from Sun.Francisco on June 29th. She met with severe weather on April 18th, latitude 54-13 8., longitude 82 W.: encountered a hurricane there, and had to heave-to and lay for four hours with the upper dead eyes under the water. The cabin was filled with water, and all the starboard bulwarks washed away. During the gale, she passed a spar with rigging attached, supposed to be part of a ship’s mast. The boilers of the steamer Renown burst on the 1st of July, when that vessel, bound to Sue,z from Newcastle, was off the Kentish Rock. Three men were killed and several wounded. The steamer England, arrived at Liverpool from New York, reported that, during the outward passage, on June 17th, latitude 44, longitude 47 W., she fell in with and took in tow the direlect barque Rogate. She towed her for 86 hours, and then, the hawser parting, she left her. The brig Curlew, of San Francisco, waterlogged, abandoned, and dismasted, with bowsprit and jib-boom standing, was passed, by the- Skedaddle, of Liverpool, in latitude 23 ST., longitude 124 W. She had apparently not been long dis-masted. The sea was too high to board her. The following vessels were lost in a late hurricane at Valparaiso: Barques Esmeralda, Jules Bordes, Eden; launches Pearl, Egeria, and Ocean. The steamer State of Nevada, whilst on the passage from Antwerp, to New York, struck an iceberg on June 12th, and stove in the upper part of her port bow. Large quantities of ice fell on deck. The Luz, arrived at Gibraltar, reported that, on the 3rd June, she came up with the barque Wis-by hove to under two topsails and fore topmast staysail. She was water logged and abandoned, and half-an-hour afterwards went down head foremost. This was In the Mediterranean, latitude 38 N., loner. 6 E. Ice was prevalent in the North Atlantic up to the end of June. The Bermuda steamer, arrived, at Quebec from Shields, reported having, on the- 21st of June, found the Straits of Belle Isle completely blockaded with ice. She had to steam 175 miles to the southward to get clear, and for a long time was surrounded and unable to move. Immense bergs and drift ice impeded her way until she arrived at St Paul’s. The La Bonne Intention barque, sugar and rum laden from Demerara to Liverpool, was passed by the Cambria steamer on June 23rd, latitude 49 N., longitude 26 W., on fire all over.. The Cambria rescued the crew and one passenger from their own boats. * (see at the middle page Link)

1875 Jun 04:  The ship Hamilton of Boston experienced severe earthquake shocks at 3 am while sailing near Barbados. The ship trembled and shook exactly as if she was bumping over a sand bar, and the sea ran heavier and heavier. Then there was a heavy shock as if the ship had run square into the dock, and then everything was quite.* (link 1) (link2)

1875 Jun 19:  Whilst on the voyage from Surabaya to Queenstown, the barque Yanikale experienced severe shocks from a submarine earthquake. Her position at the time was latitude 40 S., longitude 23 W., date June 19th. Four shocks were felt, the first being the most severe, lasting three minutes. The barque shook and trembled as if she had struck ground.  * (pplink)

1875 Jul 02:  The Angelo Antonio an Italian barque, coal-laden, and bound from liverpool to Callao, was discovered to be on fire on July 2nd, when she was 600 miles from land Her crew succeeded in taking her in and beaching her at a place called Armiacas de Itaocory, and after securing a few things, The ship Annie Fleming, rice-laden, from Bassian for Falmouth, encountered a fearful gale off Keiskamma River, and was thrown nearly on her beam ends, and the sea breaking on board, gutted the forcastle, carry away the effects of the crew and smashed bulwarks and forecastle bulkheads. The ship put into Port Elizabeth leaking, and was to discharge. The Express, a Sapanish steamer, loading munitions of war at  Barcelona, was completely shattered by the explosion of the stuff she had on board, and sank.  (link) next

1875 Aug 29:  Capt. Doe, of the bark St. Lawrence, which arrived here yesterday from Demerara, reports that, at 8:30 P.M. in latitude 18° 50′, longitude 61° 30′, the vessel encountered an earthquake. Mr. Zimmerman, the first mate, was on the deck at the time.and he described the sensation as that of the vessel striking heavily against the bottom or on a sunken rock. The weather was moderate and pleasant at the time Mrs. Doe and Miss Dillingham, a passenger, were in the cabin and they heard the mizzen mast creak and felt the vessel tremble seeming to them as if the masts were being twisted. The crew in the forecastle also had the same experience. the shock lasted thirty seconds, but no damage was done. The bark was between St. Thomas and the Island of St. Bartholomew, 140 miles from any land.

Ref: The New York Times * (link)

1876 Dec:  A 100-year-old scientific paper on steam as the source of power in earthquakes and volcanoes, and on cavities in the earth’s crust; by R.A. Peacock.  (link) Next

1877 April 25:  One of Wellington’s historic hulks, the Dilpussund, which belongs to the Union Company, has been sold to be broken up. The Dilpussund was a “composite” barque of 530 tons and was built at Rotherhi the in 1864. She was originally owned by what is believed to be a German firm named Fleming. The vessel had a long but for tho most part uneventful career. In 1907 she was registered in Dunedin, and about seven years later was converted into a coal hulk. Her principal dimensions are: Length 171 ft, beam 29.1 ft, depth 17.7 ft. The dilpussund made two voyages to Auckland from Great Britain under tho command of Captain Kelly. She arrived first on April 15, 1876, after a passage of 114 days. In the following year she again came out, this time taking 106° days. On the latter voyage she had a strange experience. She left Grave send on March 9, 1877, and on the afternoon of April 25 the crew of the barque felt a distinct shock, as if she had ‘passed over a sandbank. The incident was ascribed to a submarine earthquake. On both trips heavy weather was experienced in tho Southern Ocean. ,In January last year the Dilpussund, together with two other Union Company’s coal hulks, the Helen Denny and the, Ganymede, was laid up in Evans Bay. She was brought back into commission in March, 1932, but after a brief! period she was again withdrawn. Tho Union Company has several idle hulks awaiting to be disposed of in Evans Bay.  (Link) Next

1878 ??? : In 1878 a British fleet was stationed in the Bosphorus, when an earthquake was,felt on both the European and the Asiatic shores. A strange sound was heard and the ship began to tremble as though she were running on a sandbank. Persons coming up the companionway were-thrown over. The vibration continued for some seconds, and water bubbled up from beneath the ship, but the upper surface remained quite calm. Other reports described the water as rising up in a solid mass and forming a flat dome without ruffling its surface. One explanation is the familiar one of submarine volcanoes.  (link) Next

1878 Aug 21:  The Arequipa, from Iquique to Falmouth, felt a strong shock of an earthquake was felt on the night 21 August 1878. During this time the vessel experienced a trembling motion lasting 90 seconds. Location at the time of the quake was 33 south at 37 west.*  (link)

1879 Jan 01:  A shock of  earthquake at sea was experienced during the voyage of the Thomas Brown from Foo-chow to Melbourne As the vessel was passing Singapore on the 1st ult., at 7 p.m. a strange sensation, as if she was trembling and shaking all over, was experienced for the space of 15 seconds. The vibration was of a peculiar character, and caused some astonishment on board. The weather at the time of the occurrence was fine and mild.  (link) Next

1880 Nov 4:  The last two months have been somewhat notable for unusual volcanic activity at various points on the earth’s surface. An earthquake shock was experienced in this city and vicinity. It was very brief in duration. but it was also one of the sharpest felt here in many years. Twenty-two hours later one of the most remarkable eruptions of the century occurred on the island of Hawaii, the volcano Mauna Loa belonging forth a torrent of molten lava which, at latest accounts, was 30 miles long and rapidly approaching the sea. The Ivy, which arrived in port a few days ago from New-York, reported having experienced a severe earthquake at sea in the middle of October. while off the coast of the chili. Mount Vesuvius. in Italy, has been in active eruption for some time past. This volcano has developed a new crater, the old one remaining closed and dormant. Ordinarily an eruption of Mount Vesuvius produces a disturbance, more or less marked in Mount Etna, Sicily, and in Mount Hecla, Iceland. On the present occasion, however,so far as known, Etna and Hecla are quite. A Seattle( Washington Territory) dispatch of yesterday reports an earthquake at that place on Sunday evening, and it is reported also that place on Sunday evening, and it is reported also that Mount Baker,one of the volcanic cones in the Cascade range in Washington Territory, has recently been active emitting flame and lava. It is possible that there is an intimate relation between these volcanic convulsions which are occurring, it may be said, simultaneously in the four quarters of the globe.  (link) Next

1881 Oct 6:  Four ships report the same experience at sea— the bark Cherokee, which arrived from London yesterday encounter a violent commotion by a shock of an Earthquake. Five seconds later another shock was felt. The first earthquake shock was severe and greatly alarmed the crew. On Oct. 16, in latitude 48° 20′ and longitude 41° , a heavy south-west, increased into a hurricane, which continued until the afternoon of the 19th, when the bark was under bare poles. The sea was terrific and carried away a portion of the Cherokee’s Bulmarks and stove in one of her boats. On the morning of the 20th the barometer suddenly fell and a hurricane followed. The vessel tossed heavily about several hours, but suffered no damage. On the Grand banks a large quantity of deals was passed in the water. The Dutch steam-ship Edam, which arrived from Rotterdam , reports strong gales and high seas during the entire passage. The steam-ship New York City from Bristol, reports having met with similar weather. Capt. Criokett. of the bark Bertha, from Manila, says that he encountered two westerly gales off the cape of Good Hope.   (link) No lat. and Long. direction

Ref: The New York Times

1881 Nov 24:  Sever shock of earthquake was felt at Tontgataboo, which was by far the heaviest experienced there for the past twenty years. The John Wesley was the only vessel anchored in the Harbour at the time, and the shock was felt in an alarming manner by these on board. On shore the whole island undulated, the ground rising and falling with a progressive motion like the waves of the sea, making it impossible to stand. About four miles from the town of New Kalofa, at the lee end of the island, a large valley was formed which was before a level plain. The weather two days before the occurrence was extremely hot and sultry.  (link) Next

1882 Feb 15:  The Barque Clynden, Greenshock, appears to have experienced an unusual shock from some submarine disturbance in latitude 35° South, longitude 18 west. The sensation is described by Mr. Forest a passenger, as similar to an earthquake, and we (S M. Herald) append his description as it appears in his diary of the voyage. He says:” We experienced a shock of an earthquake which shock the whole ship. At first we were at a loss to account for the shock, as many other things would cause a similar vibration. The earthquake lasted two minutes, and during that time we were scared and made any headway whatever, although we had been going six knots as hour previously.  *(link)

1882 Oct 04:  At about a quarter to nine, the engines were, on a sudden, heard to race violently, accompanied by a frightful rumbling noise, and bumping in the stern part of the Vessel, which I can best compare to a seaquake or the striking of a coral reef. The engines were stopped as soon as possible— I may say ; suddenly ; and the chief engineer, after making an inspection, declared that the propeller shaft was broken, the water-tight bulkheads strained, the covering of the metals in the peak and tunnel broken, and the main boss pushed forward about an inch and a half. By this straining a quantity of water rushed into the aft peak and bold, but not as much as was afterwards found in the magazines over the peak, which immediately after the accident were, half filled, while the water in the peak had not reached the main shaft. From this the chief engineer concluded that the propeller boss was broken. or else that the sternpost was strained, or both. Meanwhile, all small sluices and doors of the watertight bulkheads had been closed, the steam and hand exhaust pumps set to work, and as soon as it was ascertained that the shaft was broken it was disconnected, and the engines got ready to try and keep the ship afloat by means of the bilge circulation. At about half-past ten the engines were started, ,at first with success, but it soon became apparent they would not be able to keep it up a long time, owing to several parts being strained. The captain and chief engineer attempted, in the gig, to inspect the broken aft parts, and discover whether the shaft was. broken outside the boss or whether a hole had been made in the ship, but the high sea and darkness prevented this. It appeared’ to then that only the rivets had been forced out of the stern plates, and that the propeller was moved aft and higher. The water meanwhile was streaming from 6 tore-rooms and powder magazine into the aft hold, and later in the night it began to increase to such an extent in the engine-room and stokehole that the lower fires were submerged, and by the rolling of the ship the floor plates were moved from their places, by which it became impossible to feed the fires. At 12:00 noon the Koning der Nederland disappeared in the deep. A little smoke showed the place where founded the noble ship that has sheltered so many of us for years. * (link)

1882 Dec 02:  The captain of the Aneroid, of Swansea, which arrived in St. Bride’s Bay, near Milford, wind-bound, while on a voyage  from Porto Cabello with a cargo of copper ore, the sky became overcast, with a light drizzling rain, very little wind, and a very high sea from the northward. At 6 p.m. it felt calm; the ship got broadside on to the sea, rolling rails under water, and at 6.30 p.m. a very heavy shock of seaquake was felt. It lasted for three minutes and the vessel trembled very much. The captain says he has never heard of any similar occurrence in that part of the world—viz , latitude 24° 29′ N., longitude 64° 38′ W.  (Otago Daily Times , Issue 6576, 13 March 1883, Page 2) *(link)

1883 Jan 28:  In Latitude 1° 38’N, Longitude 27° 40′ W, in clear weather and a light sea, suddenly we heard, about 7.47 P.M., a strange submarine noise not unlike distant thunder or still more like the distant firing of heavy guns. At the same time there was a vibration of the ship as though the anchor had been let go, or as if one were standing on the after-deck of a screw steamer. The entire phenomenon lasted about a minute. A peculiar sensation came upon everybody as if electrified. The crew thought there must be a large stick of timber rubbing alongside. The lookout thought that the ship had struck bottom.” The foregoing are representative of the large majority of the reports of seaquakes. The ship quivers, vibrates ; loose objects chatter and tremble. There is a strange noise in the sea like distant thunder or distant artillery. The first impression is as if the ship were grinding upon the bottom, and there is an instinctive rush of the crew to the deck and the bulwarks to see if the ship is not aground or on a reef. But the situation is soon recognised. The ship is seen to move steadily onward with unchecked speed, she rises and falls to the swell of the sea without shock, the water is dark and fathomless. The tremor soon passes and the nature of the phenomenon is at length apparent. Although the trembling of the ship and the strange roar from the sea are the most common and exclusive indications of the seaquake, there occur more forcible indications in a few instances. As might be expected there are degrees of SEAQUAKES 273 intensity in seaquakes just as there are in land quakes,though the means and agencies by which they are made sensible are much more limited. Among many hundreds of reports from ships at sea which Dr. Rudolph has collected are a few which indicate intensities of a high order. Thus one master of a vessel reports: “We felt a shock so strong that the entire crew was brought to its feet at once; the wheel flew from the hand of the steersman and I myself was flung down upon the deck.” He quotes Virlet d’Aoust, a French geologist,who in a paper on earthquakes states that in an earthquake experienced on the coast of Asia Minor: “Our ship was over the epicentre and was so severely shaken that at first the Admiral feared the complete destruction of the corvette. * (link)

1883 Feb 14:  Capt. Olsen, of the Norwegian bark Inga, which arrived yesterday from Batavia, when 80 miles north-north-west of Engraw Island, which is in the Eastern Archipelago, severe earthquake shocks were felt. The ship trembled so that the seamen in their berths woke up in alarm and hurried on the deck. The sea, which had been perfectly calm, suddenly became confused. The water foamed and boiled violently and waves rose to a great height. For about two minutes, earthquake shocks rapidly succeeded each other. Afterward, the sea became calm again.  (link) Next

Ref: The New York Times

1883 Jul 16:  Capt. P. Lawson, of the barque Viking of Sunderland, reports that on the 16th ult., at 2 p.m., while in latitude 36 degrees 18 minutes north, and longitude 2 degrees 32 minutes west,( which position is in the Mediterranean 165 nautical miles east of Gibraltar, opposite the Bay of America) he experienced a severe shock of an earthquake, as though the ship had taken a shoal of rocks; and so severe was it that the vessel was shaken with great violence, and everything on board was similarly affected. This lasted above five minutes, when the shock subsided, and the vessel resumed her course.  *(link)

1883 August:  Earthquakes… is Australia safe?  In the dreadful volcanic explosion of Krakatoa in August 1883, one mountain peak was blown into pieces while others were thrown up from the ocean. The tidal wave created by Krakatoa destroyed 40,000 people, and the airwave from the concussion pulsated three times around the world. Krakatoa and the Javanese volcanoes are only a short distance from the coast of Australia! Doubtless many of the ships that have mysteriously disappeared, leaving no trace, have gone down in the vortex of a submarine earthquake, or the chasm created by a sudden shrinkage of the ocean. From the facts already available it is reasonable to believe that the present Continent of Australia is only a portion of the original, and that in some remote period it extended hundreds’ or thousands of miles to the eastward, probably including Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands and New Zealand, possibly New Caledonia. How came the ancient Cretaceous Ocean, which once covered all Central Australia, from the Gulf to the Bight, to withdraw from the land, leaving nothing but marine fossils in the desert sandstone? Was the Cretaceous Ocean shallow all around this continent, and did it suddenly subside to fill some tremendous chasm caused by a sudden submarine shrinkage of the earth’s crust, followed by the inland sea, which naturally rushed out into the vacancy? What seems the only real danger to Australia lies not in the eruption of some suddenly created new volcano, or any ordinary earthquake, but in just such shrinkages of the sea bottom as occurred on the coast of Japan, off Fraser Island, and many other localities, including Lisbon and Port Royal. If such a subsidence were “to come under Sydney. Melbourne, Adelaide, or Brisbane, it might be of such a magnitude that the whole city would disappear into the gulf. We know nothing whatever of the awful forces at work beneath the crust or the earth, and nothing of the internal fires, or that awful subterranean abode where Shelley said “the old earthquake Demon nurses her young Ruin.” The history of volcanoes and earthquakes is an appalling record of lost countless millions of lives and awful destruction. One Pekin earthquake destroyed 300,000 people, one in Naples 70,000, another at Naples 40,000 and we are not far from July 1902, -when the volcano of Mount Pelee, in the island of Martinique, wiped out the town of St. Pierre and 30,000 inhabitants. Still nearer is the 18th of April 1906, when the San Francisco earthquake killed over a thousand people and did damage to the extent of sixty million. And so far in Australian history we have not had an earthquake that would capsize a tumbler of hot punch.  (link) Next

1883 Oct 03:  Steam-ship International experiences severe shock while near many seamounts in the Sargasso Sea 1,350 miles east of New York City. At 11 o’clock a.m. when the vessel was in latitude 35° 18′ and longitude 50° 16′, Chief Engineer Hall felt a violent shock, which led him first to believe that one of the boilers had exploded. Two of the firemen rushed from the stoke-hole and cried out that something had exploded. The officers on the bridge called down through the speaking-tube asking what had exploded. The shock was felt throughout the vessel and several of the crew said they heard a report like the discharge of a cannon. An examination showed that the boilers were alright and that the ship was not leaking. Had a sunken wreck been struck the International would have made considerable water. Capt. Simpson and his officers think that the shock must have been caused by an earthquake. The sea was rather heavy at the time and no unusual agitation of the water was observed. *  (link)

1883 Dec 24:  The ship Elizabeth Nicholson, which arrived in Boston today, reports that at latitude 16° 20′, longitude 27°, she experienced a severe earthquake shock, which gave the ship a violent shaking up for 20 seconds. The sensation was like that which would be caused by the swift running out of the chain cable. There was as accompanying sound resembling a distant peal of thunder. Nothing could be discerned in the darkness.   (link) NO lat. and long Direction

Ref: The New York Times

1884 Mar 02:   Captain Holt, of the ship David Stewart, reports that on March 2, at 10:20 A. M., in Puerto Orchilla Harbor, in the Caribbean Sea 90 offshore of Caracas, Venezuela, he experienced a heavy shock of earthquake, and again at 4 A. M. on the morning of the 4th another, but lighter, shock. * (link)

1884 Aug 15:  The American brig Charles Dennis, Capt. Connaches, has just arrived at Pensacola after a passage of forty-two days. in latitude 37 and longitude 75 west, and about five degrees off shore, she encountered a marine earthquake, which supposed to have been a sequence of the one which shook up New York and New England. The brig was on the edge of the gulf stream. The appearance of the sky denoted a hurricane, consequently the brig was put under short sail.  (link) No lat. direction

1884 Dec 21:   Ship Carl had an  experienced of seaquake when it is used by Schilling as an oil carrier in an about 20 minutes past 2 at night, the crew suddenly felt a strong rocking or shaking of the ship, lasting about 5 minutes. The shaking was so strong that the oil barrels in the top layer between decks were thrown around, and the lamp chimneys fell to the deck. The sea in the neighborhood of the ship turned white. The first mate and his watch were thrown to the deck; he and the carpenter had been standing on the after deck, one sailor on the port side as look out. I rushed on deck, as did the watch below, as we all thought the ship had met with an accident. After the shaking stopped I immediately had the pumps started, and repeated pumping every ten minutes; however, the depth of bilge water did not change. The ship was at 35° 40’ N. latitude and 22° 26’ W. longitude. The sea was calm, the wind easterly and light, the ship’s speed was three nautical miles per hour. Several days later, in very calm weather and a glassy sea, we lowered a boat and rowed around the ship but did not find any damage.”

Newspapers mentioned a heavy earthquake in Spain at that time, so it is presumed that this quake moved underwater and caused the shaking. The same shocks were felt by another ship that was in the same degree of latitude.  *(link)

1884 Dec 22:  The following is an extract from the meteorological log kept by Captain R. J. Balderston on board the ship Belfast: At about ten minutes to 3 a.m., local ship’s time, or 21d. 1h. Gm., Greenwich mean time, the ship Belfast, of Liverpool, was shaken by an earthquake, which lasted from about 75 to 90 seconds. The vessel at the time was in latitude 34°. 34′. north, and longitude 19° 19′. west, the island of Madeira bearing true S.E., distant 145 miles. The shaking of the ship was accompanied by a loud rumbling noise, which, as heard from the cabin, resembled the sound which would be made by rolling of large empty iron tanks about the decks, but which, as heard from the upper deck and in the open air, was as that of not very distant thunder, and it appeared to fill the whole of the air. I did not hear the commencement of the thunderous sound, and cannot say on what compass bearing of the visible sky it commenced, but it traveled rapidly through the air, and towards the S.W. The vibration of the vessel and the noise were greatest during the first 50 or 60 seconds; the former then died gradually away and ended in the very faintest tremor, while the latter, as it traveled south-westward through the atmosphere died out with a low roar as it appeared to sink beyond the horizon. The helmsman found the steering wheel much shaken as he held it, and in the cabins and cookhouse tinware, crockery ware, and other light articles were rattled about. This little earthquake occurred three days prior to the commencement of the earthquake which caused so much loss of life and property in Spain. Meteorological Office, October 9.* (trolink)

1884 Dec 23:  British Bark Isabel hit by severe EQ. Crew paralyzed with fear. * (link)

1884 Dec 25:  A correspondent of an Eastern journal writes that experiencing an earthquake at sea is a nerve-wracking sensation. Steaming or sailing along quietly in a region where there . is a great depth of water and not a suspicion of danger, all on board suddenly feel the ship grinding as over a reef of rocks and the entire vessel quivers violently as if about to go to pieces. Officers and crew rush to the sides to see what has happened, but the sea shows not the slightest sign of submerged rocks or of any other material  danger, and it is at once realized that they are in the midst of an earthquake.Three days before the great Spanish earthquake, of Christmas, 1884, ships in the Atlantic, at a distance of about 150 miles to the north-westward of Madeira, experienced severe shocks, which lasted from 75 to 90 seconds. The shocks were attended by a thunderous noise; those in the cabins thought that large empty, iron tanks were being rolled about on deck, while those on deck thought it was the noise of not very distant thunder, which appeared to fill the whole air. The vibration of the ship died away gradually, ending in a faint tremor, and the thunderous sound traveled south-westward dying out in a low roar as it appeared to sink below the horizon. Such are the weird sensations attending an earthquake at sea as felt on board on a ship.*  (link)

1885 Jun 23:   Two heavy shock of submarine earthquakes felt by the schooner Rosano in about one minute apart, causing the vessel to tremble violently The sky was overcast and the sea was smooth.

The Manning Times (Manning, South Carolina)  (link) next

1885 Jun 11:   The Captain of the German bark Helene, which arrived at Valparaiso on the inst., reports that a violent earthquake occurred at 3 p.m. on the 11th inst. in latitude 46° 4′ south, longitude 1° 28′ west. * (link)

Ref: The New York Times

1885 Dec 22:   The phenomenon of an earthquake at sea has been reported by the Bhipi Benicia and Melanope, which lately arrived at Melbourne from the United Kingdom. The Melanope in latitude 33° 19′ N.and longitude 19° 53′ W., a distinct shock of earthquake was felt under the vessel. This was at two o’clock in the morning, and the weather at the time was Equally, with light rain, The sensation was the same as if the vessel was passing sharply over a coral reef, and there was a grating, buzzing noise during the few minutes the shock lasted. Next day a German barque was signaled, and reported that she had an experience of the earthquake at about the same time. Commander Edwin wired yesterday as follows Bad weather expected between N. and E., and S.E.; Glass fall again soon and heavy rainfall, and sea heavy within 12 hours. *(link)

1886 Mar 06:  A sharp shock of submarine earthquake was felt on board the Sharpshooter, barque, bound from Eureka to Sydney, on March 6, latitude 40° 49′ N., longitude 135° 58′ W. * (pplink)

1886 July 1:  The captain of the steamer Thessaly, ‘belonging to the Houston -Line,, writing to the owners of that vessel, note a strange experience on his last voyage from Liverpool to! Montevideo. The ship, which at the time. was in latitude 0° 50′, longitude 29° 34′ W., was suddenly and, violently shaken and bumped, the Bucking being accompanied by a loud, rumbling, metallic kind of noise. The first impression was that the ship wag’ tearing the bottom out over hard rock, but knowing there was nothing in the neighbourhood she could touch, save St. Paul’s Rock, and as they could not see land, the captain ‘concluded the, machinery was going ‘to “pieces. A’ ‘report received from the engine-room, however, stated that there was nothing wrong there. The engineer had slowed down instantly, under the impression that something; had gone wrong. The carpenter reported the well all fine. The shock lasted about a minute, no disturbance was visible on the water. About eight minutes after the first shock. a second, not quite so severe, stopped the ship, which in the meantime had been going? slowly. Subsequently they experienced a third shock a slight one. The lead indicated 60 fathoms, with no bottom. Being now satisfied that the shocks were caused by some submarine disturbance; the captain proceeded on her course. After steaming about 15 minutes, he experienced a fourth shock, only inferior, to the first in severity and duration. After this all was quiet. During the shock, the compass cards were much agitated. * (link)

1886 Sep 01:  CAPTAIN H. J. OLSEN, commanding the brig Wilhelmine of Drammen, reports that, on the 1st inst., being by dead reckoning in latitude 50° 10′ N., longitude 1° 40′ W., he observed, between 3.30 and 4 p.m., three rumblings at short intervals, during which the ship was felt to tremble violently, so that both the bulwarks of the cabin and plates on the table cluttered. The wind was north-west, with a gentle breeze, and the ship was on the starboard tack. Journal: Nature, vol. 34, no. 882, pp. 496-496, 1886  * (link)

1886 Sep 4:  The steamer City of Palatka, briefly describing the effects of the earthquake at sea which Capt. Leo Voegel received a letter from the Hydrograph office that after he had just left from charleston and was about 12 miles off the harbor of Port Royal in eight and half fathoms, he experienced a terrible rumbling sensation, which lasted one and a half minutes. There had been quite a heavy sea from the southeast, but when the rumbling began the wave motion ceased and the waters remained a perfect calm until the rumbling came to an end, when the swell was again the manifest. The wind was southeast and light, weather cloudy, barometer 30.01, thermometer 80. The ship’s scraping a pebbly bottom. The ship’s vibrations were very great.The light Board has received a report from Charleston to the effect that the main tower.  (link) Next

Ref: New York Times

1886 Sep 5: The ship Imperial, from Kodiac, reports a violent shock of an earthquake at that place at 4 p.m. Three houses and nearly all the chimneys in town were shaken down. The sensation on the ship was terrific. She seemed as though passing over rocks at great speed while articles were shaken down which the most violent gales had not disturbed. In the southern parts of the island, large rocks were torn up and thrown down the mountain. The shock lasted 40 seconds. No lives were lost. * (link)

1886 Sep 24:  A BRITISH STEAMER’S PERIL:  Capt. Baker on his last trip from Liverpool to New-Orleans met with an exciting experience. It was on the forenoon, the British steamer Red Sea, was off the Azores.  The morning was clear and bright, but the vessel began to labor heavily and was put under storm sails. The sea became rough, while the wind blew a living gale. The barometer fluctuated by jumps: the compass was affected. Suddenly the vessel received a terrific shock that racked her from stem to stern. She appeared to bump the bottom, was thrown on her beam ends, but righted almost immediately. All hands rushed on deck to witness the appalling sight of a mountain of water off the port bow rolling down upon them. The vessel was headed bow on at the tremendous pillow, and as she struck it stood on stern end, rode it gallantly, pitching over it as from a precipice into the trough yawning below. The rudder and the propeller were hoisted far out of the water, the boats swung in the davits, the yards creaked overhead, the mask strained and twisted, and the coal on deck was scattered from one end to the other. She came up out of the terrible trough, shook an instant, righted herself, shipping but little water, sustaining no material damage, and plunged ahead of her way. Capt. Baker is positive that his sudden and dangerous dilemma was the result of an earthquake, and if his ship had been heavily laden he would never have ridden it out in safety.  (New Your Times, October 15, 1886) Next

1887: If you read the German Language, you might also like to read 600 pages of seaquake/vessel encounters written in 1887 by Professor of Geophysics, Eberhart Emil Rudolph (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4) (Part 5) (Part 6). Next

1887 Feb 26: REPORTED ERUPTION OF MOUNT ETNA. Intelligence from Forli states that three shocks of earthquake were felt there yesterday. The flight from Nice continues; the number of strangers who have already left being estimated at about 15,000. The Gaulois today states that 700 bodies were recovered from the ruins at Diano Marina, and it is believed that many more are still buried beneath the debris. The inhabitants are encamped along the shore. It is added that the reports of the damage caused by the visitation have at present been received from scarcely sixty communes out of about three hundred which experienced the earthquake and in the same day Columbia felt a sharp shock of earthquake the other parts of South Carolina.  (link) Next

1887 Apr 19:  Quantities of Submarine vegetation have been thrown up on the beach, covering it for 16 miles There are also a large number of dead fishes on the shore, among them whales, sharks and sea turtles. One whale measures 55 ft and a turtle was 10 witness the extraordinary scenes. The phenomena believed to have been caused by a submarine eruption.  (link) next

The New york Times

1887 Mar 19:  A shock, of an earthquake’s was distinctly felt here yesterday by many persons, but subsequent inquiry would seem to indicate that the noise and vibration observed were caused by the bursting of an aerolite. From all parts of the district’s information comes to hand today that shortly after 4 o’clock yesterday loud detonations, resembling a volley of musketry with subsequent dropping shots, were heard. The people rushed out of their houses, and the cattle were paralysed with fear at the sounds. Several persons state that at the time mentioned they observed a ball of fire drop from the heavens and proceed in an easterly direction, apparently falling in the neighbourhood of Cape Otway. All the accounts to hand indicate that the sounds were more distinctly heard in a line from north to east. In Warrnambool the windows of the houses rattled, and some persons assert that they felt a concussion under their feet, as though subterranean cannons were being discharged. Sending perpendicularly earthwards a streak of fire with the hissing of escaping steam as from an engine.When within 300 yards from the earth it disappeared, leaving only a cloud of greyishsmoke. This was followed by earth tremorsand a rumbling sound as of the fring of heavyartillery. The vibrations lasted for 10 seconds. Several houses were shaken severely. No substance appears to have fallen to the earth. (see mid-page link) Next

1887 Aug 8:  Capt. Halsey of the Steam Ship New Orleans of Cromwell lines reported that at 8 a.m. in the latitude of Charleston. she experienced a severe shock of an earthquake. There were three or four unusually high seas and a terrific jar throughout the ship; at the time she was in 18 fathoms of water. An hour before this occurred one of the firemen becoming deranged jumped overboard and was drowned.  *(link)

The New York Times

1887 Sep 29:  Captain Armstrong of the British steamship Alps reports to the New York branch Hydrographic Office,  7 A.M. Off the south coast of Cuba (latitude 19° 44′ north, longitude 740° 24′ west), Cape Guanos bearing N. N. E., distant about 22 miles, felt the shock of a submarine earthquake, lasting about 45 seconds, causing the ship to vibrate fore and aft. At first it appeared as if the valves were thrown open to give an extra shake-up on the engine. 7 miles farther N. E. by N. felt another milder shock, lasting about 7 seconds. 8:10 A. M., about 13 miles from the first disturbance, felt three shocks, lasting about two-thirds of a second, at intervals of about a second. At 8.45 A.M. felt another mild shock, lasting about 2 seconds. The sea was quite smooth, and had been smooth during the night. When the first shock was felt, the sea appeared to rise higher in a solid body (without the least break) for about 3 seconds, and continued smooth after. Light variable winds prevailed, with calms at intervals. Barometer, 30-05; air, 79; water, 84; midnight, barometer, 29.95. The high land of Cuba was enveloped in dark lead-colored clouds, sky from N. E. by E. to S. was quite clear, and several waterspouts were visible in N. N. E. direction. Noon, after passing Cape Maysi, the weather was clear and fine. By the charts, I should think the disturbance occurred in more than one thousand fathoms of water. (Civil time.)* (link)

1888 Jul 25:  The British steamship Syrian, which arrived at Philadelphia from Glasgow, experienced an earthquake at sea on July 25. The forward part of the vessel was lifted high out of the water while the stern was partly submerged. A second shock shook the vessel aft and amidships, where the full force of the water was felt.  (link) Next

Ref: Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XV, Issue 5257, 24 August 1888, Page 3

1888 Oct 26: Captain Duncan of the American ship Florence, reports having felt slight shock of earthquake on October 26th when in latitude 37° 10 N, longitude 19° 19 W. He also reports having spoken nine vessels felt same experience. Ref:  Daily Alta California, Volume 42, Number 14041, 9 February 1888  *(link)

1888 Dec 17:  The master of the Norwegian barque Alert, which arrived at Port Adelaide last week, reports that on the 17th December, when his vessel was in the Southern Ocean, she experienced a seaquake. Three distinct shocks were felt by all on board, and the sea became strangely agitated. It was at first supposed that the vessel had struck something, but on referring to the chart she was found to be in from 1400 to 1600 fathoms of water.  (link) Next

1889 Apr 4:  Before Danmark sunk, it was one afternoon and Captain Knudsen was on the bridge. It was about 3.50 o’clock, as near as can be gathered, when a violent shock shook the huge fabric of the Danish steamship from stem to stern. To some it sounded as though a powerful explosion had taken place in her hold. To others it seemed that the ship had been suddenly dropped by the waves that were toying with her on a ledge of rocks and allowed to remain there stationary.

Loud cries rang through steerage and cabin. Some shouted “The ship is lost.” Meantime the captain and his officers, with faces that showed their concern, made an examination below when they went forward and held a long and serious consultation. The passengers demanded to know what had happened. “Do not be alarmed,” they were told. “We hope it is not serious.”

But it was serious. What had happened was this: While plunging down the steep declivity of a wave which left her propeller, revolving lightning-like, entirely in the air; the shaft of the Danmark had snapped as neatly in two as a school boy’s slate pencil. It had snapped close to the stern port, and the portion leading to the engine, when it broke, had smashed down into the bottom of the ship with such violence that at first it seemed as if the whole after part of the hull had been started. The shaft was about fourteen inches in diameter, and the force with which the broken end had inflicted the blow below had (to use the words of Purser C. A. Hemper) “practically split her stern open.”

Vain thoughts of repairing the broken shaft were soon abandoned, and the officers were called to face a much more serious question. The blow of the shaft had caused the Danmark to spring a leak. The engines were kept going and the pumps were started, while the vessel was kept head to wind as much as possible. An examination resulted in the conclusion being reached that the injury to the hull of the Danmark was not serious, at least for the time being. Still the great ship, with her enormous human freight, was practically helpless in that angry sea. She could make no headway, and all that was left for her to do was to wait for help. (link) Next

1890 Feb 28:  The barque Chases, one of  Mr. Alexander Burns’s on the 28th February the ship was shaken by an earthquake. The captain reports having felt three severe and distinct shocks, which lasted four minutes.  (link) next

1891 Mar 13:  Capt. Petersen, of the Swedish bark Eleanor, reports that between 7 and 8 p.m. he experienced a submarine earthquake in the volcanic region of the Atlantic west of St. Paul Rocks. The ship was heading north west, going about three knots, with a light easterly wind and calm sea, when a noise was heard on the port side,like a heavy surf, and almost immediately the sea began to bubble and boil like a huge kettle, the broken water reaching as high as the poop deck. No distinct shock was felt, but after the disturbance struck the ship she continued to tremble as as it lasted. After about an hour it ceased for an hour and was then followed by another similar disturbance. A bubbling sound was all that could be heard and the water appeared foamy, but it was impossible, on account of the darkness, to say whether it was muddy. The next day weather and sea were as usual. Position at 8 a.m., latitude 3° 47′ north, longitude 48° 03 west. The region from St. Paul Rocks to and including the Wind ward islands is especially subject to earthquakes, and reports similar to the above are often received. In September, October, October and November of last year a number of shocks were reported, of which the heaviest was the one at Barbados on Oct. 6. felt throughout the region between Demerara and Martinique. On Nov. 20, a severe shock was felt about latitude 8° 45 north, longitude 40° 28′ west, aboard the American bark P.J. Carleton, captain Crosbie. The sea became like a boiling pot, tumbling about in a seething mass and greatly confused, and a grating sensation was experienced, as thought the vessel were going a reef. Nov. 28, in latitude 3 north, longitude 27 west, a slight shock was experienced aboard the British ship Walter H. Wilson, Captain Sproul.

Ref: The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana)*  (link)

1891 April 07:  Captain Davies reports that a seaquake slammed into the British ship Glonfinlas of Liverpool while in the Indian Ocean, 800 miles west of the Great Sunda Islands. This event over mid-ocean ridge.*  (link)

1891 April 17:  OCEAN SHOCKED— How an Earthquake Disturbed Mariners Off the Java Coast. The big Calcutta ship Ulenfiling? arrived after a voyage of 123 days. Captain Davies, her skipper, reported that on April 17th, when about 200 miles off the coast of Java, he experienced a terrific earthquake shock. Captain Davits says he has been sailing in the Calcutta trade for a quarter of a century and never before had such an experience. “The weather was perfectly calm,” said the captain. “There was not a breath of air. The sea was as smooth as a millpond. The atmosphere was muggy and sultry. I was sitting at the table eating supper. Suddenly there was an almost imperceptible tremor. Then the ship trembled like an a pen leaf. I heard a rumbling, grating sound, as though the vessel had struck a coral reef. I rushed on deck. Dismay and terror were pictured in the faces of my men. They thought the ship was going to pieces. “From stem to stern she trembled for fully three minutes. There was a peculiar ground swell that made us think we had touched bottom. The casting of the lead soon allayed our fears. I told our men what the phenomenon was. My assurances quieted them. None of them had ever felt an earthquake shock before. “While the tremor lasted they were momentarily expecting the sea to open and swallow them. Two more shocks were felt the next day. They were not so severe as the first.”— 2f. Y. special to Pittsburgh Dispatch

Ref: San Francisco Call  (link) Next

1891 July 21:  Royalist experienced a severe earthquake shock. It was so severe that the whole of the ship‘s company were under the impression that the vessel had strike on a reef. The Royalist has not succeeded so far in arresting Howard’s murderers but she is busily working along the coast, and Captain Davis is very hopeful of success.  (link) next

1891 Sep 9:  The Saga Earthquake at Sea, One of the Nova Scotia built ships, owned by Mr. S K. Gundersen, of Stavanger, and flying the Norwegian flag, arrived from Puget Sound yesterday, to the care of Messrs. Clifford, Moore, and Co. She is in command of Captain A. Oftedahl, The line was crossed on the 31st day out, having experienced a good deal of squally weather and scarcely any N.E. trades.  Westerly winds with constant rain prevailed through the trade belt. The equator was crossed in 150° W., and moderate S.E. trade winds were carried to 26° S., then a heavy  S. E. gale, backing to the west and blowing hard for three  days. During this gale and when the ship was about 100 miles north of Sunday Island, two violent shocks of earthquake were felt. So severe were they that the crew thought the ship had struck a reef or some heavy floating object. There were two very distinct shocks, one lasting about 20 seconds, and the other 10 seconds. The vibration was very great, and in order to make sure there was no shallow water about, the lead was hove, but at 50 fathoms found no bottom. This novel experience was followed by winds from all parts of the compass, with an occasional strong blow from S.W. to S. E., the force of the winds decreasing always when north of east. The Saga berthsat Ellis’s Wharf.  * (link)

1891 Oct 28:  The American bark Hesper, Captain Sodergren, twenty seven days from Kobe, Japan, reports her standing rigging carried away by the force of the earthquake shock of October 28, in that harbor, and that other vessels in the harbor also suffered. The damage to the town was very great.Two days after when the vessel was about twenty-five miles from Kobe, on its homeward trip, another violent shock occurred shortly after daybreak. A rumbling as that of a submarine volcano was lashed into a foam, the waves breaking over the vessel. The bark was shaken and tossed about most violently, and the main topmast cross trees went by the board. The deck was flooded with water of temperature so high as to seem almost boiling hot, and the air,which was filled with a sulphurous odor, became stifling. The strength of the vessel and crew were taxed to the utmost for an hour and half, but it was fully five hours and a half before the storm ceased.  (link) next

1892 Apr 18:  When right in the middle of the Solomon group. the bark had a very narrow escape from being wrecked by an earthquake. About half and hour before noon the watch on deck were started by felling the vessel shake from stem to stern, as if she had bad togeby the ground Capt. Weeden at once ordered the depeters lead to be brought up, although he was sure his vessel was in deep water at the time. About five minutes after the first shock there was another quake which. to use the language of Captain Weeden.”was a dandy.” The bark was lifted up at least six feet. and then rolled over to port until her rail was under water. Every Timber in the vessel cracked and groaned as if the ship was going to pieces. All around the vessel as far as the eye could see. The sea was heaving and tumbling, as if in a heavy storm. and tons of water poured over the rails on both slides. Fooling the decks. The watch below were thrown out of their bunks and rushed on deck. thinking the ship had struck a rock and was going down. The shock lasted nearly a minute, and inside of twenty seconds was followed by a third fully as severe as the one that preceded it, but it did not last more than twenty five seconds.

The bark pitched and rolled so heavily that the main yard was dipped in the water half a dozen times. and it seemed as if the mast would go over the side. Many articles were swept from the deck by the rush of water.and some of the men narrowly escaped being dashed against the deckhouse and rail. It was nearly an hour after the last shock before the big waves subsided and the bark was once more motionless on the water. and the crew began to realize what had taken place. In the cabins and forecastle everything was turned topsy-turvy. and nearly all the crockery on board was smashed.

That evening a breeze sprang up and the Seminole resumed her voyage toward San Francisco. Just before daylight on the morning of the 20th, two days after the earthquake, the lookout reported a bright light ahead, and it was soon proved to be a large volcano in full blast. The lazing mountain was over forty miles away, and yet by noon the vessel’s decks were- covered with ashes over an inch deep. For three days and nights during which the volcano remained in view the light was so great that a newspaper could easily have been read on the vessel’s deck at midnight.

Capt. Weeden says it is the worst shake-up he ever got, and he would not care for another like it. In spite of the very severe shaking the bark escaped unscathed, and, excepting the few bottles of ashes which were preserved by the crew, there is nothing to show that anything out of the common occurred.  (link)

Ref: San Francisco Examiner next

1892 Aug:  The famous yacht Alva, belonging to W. K. Vanderbilt, which was sunk off the Connecticut coast by the passenger steamer Denmark in August 1892. She was supposed to be the crack yacht of her year. In speed, beauty, elegance and comfort she had no superior. Money had been lavished upon her. A trip in her, if the weather was fine, was said to be a foretaste of Elysium. One day. as the owner and his friends were disporting themselves on board and merriment ruled the hour, a big, clumsy passenger steamer ran into her in a fog and sent her to the bottom, happily without destroying any lives.When the diver had come on board and the connection had been made the spark was sent on it r, journey, and the result was like a submarine earthquake. The contractor’s steamer rocked and those on board describe the sensation as resembling the pounding of a Titanic sledge upon her bottom.For an area of about two acres the water of the ocean rose a couple of hundred feet in the air carrying with it fragments of timber and mud and fell back into a seething pool.  (link) Next

1892 July 30:  About 7 o’clock in the evening the crew of  Pilot boat No. 10 were suddenly startled by a noise which seemed to come from directly underneath. First it had a grating sound, and then it seemed as if the metal sheathing of the hull was exposed to a submarine hailstorm. The sharp rattling noise continued for about six seconds. The vibrations were steady, and, according to the pilot, were undoubtedly caused by an earthquake. Before the crew had time to cease wondering at the sub quake disturbance, their attention was demanded by a brilliant and startling display overhead. The heavens from zenith to  horizon’s were suddenly  streaked by a rift of light, serpentine is a shape and clearly defined. The light show lasted an hour. On the same date and at the same hour the same phenomenon was observed from the steamship Trinacria, which was sixty miles distances from the pilot boat. Near New York City?  (link) Next

1892 Aug 9:  Experience of a Steamer with a Stranger Mediterranean Swell. Port Said, Egypt, Aug. 24. The British steamer Clan MacGregor, from the Clyde for Calcutta, reports that on Aug. 9, in the Mediterranean, of Tripoli, she began to roll heavily. The weather had been fine and the sea smooth, when suddenly an extremely heavy swell began to run. This lasted for ten minutes, when the commotion subsided and the steamer proceeded steadily. In a very short time the sea for a great distance around boiled violently. The swell set In again and the steamer almost rolled her rails under. This lasted only a few minutes, when the sea again became calm. It is the opinion of those on the Clan MacGregor that they passed over a place where a violent submarine eruption was taking place.

Ref: The World  (link) Next

1892 Oct 29: Perils of the Ocean: Unpreventable Danger, Strange causes of wrecks and Projects to  prevent disaster.  (link) next

1892 Dec 1:  The Experience of a Steamship Captain on the Atlantic. New York Sun.

Captain Leo Vogel, now in the service of the Clyde Steamship Company, says of his experience at sea during the Charleston earthquake: “I was going southward in charge of a double-screw steamer, 300 feet long and was twenty-six miles south and tiny east of Charleston. It was the ugliest sky that. I think, I had ever seen, during the afternoon, and I was really expecting a cyclone. The sky was of a salmon color, with clouds of sulphurous green. It was close and hot, find there was a sense of something being wrong. We were on the eight-fathom line that night when suddenly the engines stopped. We were shaken from side to side, then the ship seemed to settle, and it was as though the bottom were rubbing against something. ‘The Chief officer rushed on deck shouting ‘We’re aground.’ I ran for the chronometer to record as nearly as possible the me of the occurrence, and from that I estimate that it took only about five seconds for the shock to reach Charleston. My people were in Charleston then, and my first impulse was to go back, but I remembered that I was responsible for a ship’s cargo and people. On arriving in port I found that the earthquake had really occurred, and it lifted a great load from my mind on the return trip when I saw one of my children on the dock and heard him shout ‘We’re all right.’ The shock came distinctly from the southeast, and I believe when the ship seemed to settle that either the sea was hollowed for a great area, allowing us to touch bottom, or else that the bottom was headed up to within a Couple of fathoms of the surface.”  (link) next

1893 Jan 11:  The bark H.J. libby of Portland, which arrived today from Melbourne, reports that on Jan. 11, at 8 a.m. when in latitude 54 south, longitude 54° 40 west, she experienced a severe shock of earthquake,(or seaquake.) The shock lasted for fully ten seconds, and caused the vessel to tremble from stem to stern as if she was passing over a rough bottom. On Jan. 15 latitude 50 °25′ south, longitude 45° 08′ west. she saw seven large icebergs, two of which were flat on top, from two to three miles in length, and about 250 feet high.

Ref: New York Times  * (link)

1893 Feb 13:  The steamer Wainui felt the shock of an earthquake while crossing Cook Strait. The hull trembled violently, and there was a noise and a feeling as if the vessel had struck and was bumping over rocks. * (link)

1893 Aug ??:  American ship Ivanhoe reports earthquake at sea. The ship trembled violently.  *(link)

1893 Oct 14:  An Earthquake at Sea. A story combining elements of Rider Haggard and Clark Russel in its style comes to Hydrographic office of the Navy Department at Washington from L. Johnson, master of the Korwegian barque Haabet. under date of Belize, British Honduras. This is Capt. Johnson’s narrative: “On October 14 last, at about 11: 45 pm, we were sailing along with all sails set. The weather was fine. I was in latitude 16° 40 North, longitude 59° 13 West. The ship was going through the water at about five knots. The mate found suddenly that the ship’s head seemed to be resting out of the water, and he called me. I found her head had risen from about six to eight feet out of the water. It appeared as if the vessel was striking heavily on some rocks, but as I judged we had 200 fathoms under us, and knowing my position, I came to the conclusion that I was immediately over the disturbed area of some volcanic (submarine) eruption. In a few, moments the vessel’s head fell heavily down. There were continued heavy blows as if the vessel were striking on a reef, accompanied with tremblings such as are experienced by an earthquake on shore. The shocks were so heavily that I feared the ship would split in two and it was impossible to stand on deck. The ship was going ahead all the while, but rolled as if in the trough of a heavy sea. The duration of the disturbance was from three to five minutes.” (The Evening Democrat, Warren PA December 7, 1893, page #2)  *(link)

1893 Nov 20:  The barque West Australian vessel was subjected to a series or severe shocks, either the result of an earthquake or of submarine disturbances.These shook the vessel from stem to stern, causing it to tremble and quiver as if about to collapse. The shocks lasted for several minutes, and the crew were in a state of terror at their intensity and long continuance. They describe the sensation experienced as if the vessel were bumping heavily on rocks.  (link) next

1894 Feb 03: Captain C. G. F. Peterson, of the schooner Sailor Boy, reports that at 12.50 p.m. 3rd February 1894, when in latitude 41° 25 N longitude 129’0 W, he felt three distinct shocks of an earthquake. The disturbance lasted altogether 30 seconds. Wind calm, light rain. Several reports of submarine disturbances have been received from vessels sailing in this locality. * (trolink)

1894 Feb 08:   Submarine earthquakes doubtless often occur, but it is not often that they are reported unless they cast up an island to leave a record of their existence. A vessel that has lately put in at Honduras reports passing over what was probably the center of the disturbance. When the waves struck the vessel it was as if it had struck a rock. First one end of the vessel was up and then the other. The shock lasted only four or five minutes, but in that time no one could stand upright, and all expected that the vessel would break in the middle.Possibly some vessels never heard of are wrecked in this way. The Submarine earthquakes are most common in tropical or semitropical seas, or near coast where such phenomena are most often experienced on land.

ref: The Malvern Leader (Malvern, Iowa) (link) next

1894 Sep 10:  Three schooners hit by seaquake shock lasting 30 seconds. sea became very rough for 2 hours. * (link)

1894 Sept 30:  The schooners Lila and Mattie, from Coquille River (Oregon) and Excelsior from Redfish Bay (Oregon), had an exciting experience on September 30, when about 35 miles south-west of Shelter Cove (California). They were caught in tremendous seas occasioned by an earthquake at sea, and for several hours battled the waves threatened to swamp them. The sea was perfectly calm, and not a breath of air was stirring. Suddenly the vessels commenced rocking violently. On board the Excelsior the crew were much frightened and could not refrain from showing their anxiety. The sailors of the Lila and Mattie were likewise much wrought up over the phenomenon. The ocean commenced to rise in angry cross-seas though the wind did not blow. The vessels were tossed about wildly, their spears rattling in their steps in a dangerous way. For nearly an hour, the heavy seas continued to break, and for some time after that the water was by no means calm. The actual shock lasted only thirty seconds.  (link – see column 7)  (ref: THE RECORD- UNION-SACRAMENTO- link2 – see column 2) next

1895 Mar 01:  An earthquake at sea is reported at San Francisco by incoming vessels, and hydrographic officers believe it was a gigantic ocean eruption. The earthquake, which occurred early in the morning of March 1, was preceded by a calm sea. The first warning of the earthquake came in the form of a deafening roar which seemed to rise out of the sea.  In an instant, the ocean was lashed into a mass of foam, rising in places in great geyser-like columns. Vessels stopped and if they had struck a rock. News of the advent of a new island in mid-ocean or of the disappearance of one is expected by the hydrographic office.

Ref: Arkansas City Daily Traveler (Arkansas City, Kansas)  (link) next

1895 May 31:   The Colima sea tragedy off the coast of Mexico. On investigation it may be proven that a submarine earthquake or volcanic eruption caused the Colima’s destruction. A marine volcano may have suddenly disturbed the usual placidity of the South Mexican Ocean and engulfed the ship in the most unexpected manner. She may have dipped to the roll of a heavy surge and shaken her masts loose. A tottering spar, perhaps, fell and struck Capt. Taylor and his aides.The Colima had no yards, and only a sudden and violent wrench could have caused her well stayed masts to come crashing to the deck.  (link)


1895 Sep 01:  Capt. Hendrickson, commanding the Norwegian steamship Gurly, which today arrived here from Port Antonio, Jamaica, reports experiencing at an early hour yesterday morning, when about thirty miles south of winter Quarter lightship, the earthquake. At the time it was “dead calm,” and suddenly the sea rose up and the sea boiled and bubbled up in a furious manner. lasted for fully thirty minutes before it settled. At first the ship quivered from stem to stern.  (link) next

1895 Oct 24:   The schooner Mary Rehun, from Unalaska, reports experiencing a severe earthquake at sea October 24. The captain was in the rigging, and the sea was as smooth as glass, when the vessel began to tremble violently, every timber creaking and the sea becoming greatly agitated. The phenomena lasted two minutes. On the following day the schooner passed through a large area of apparently muddy water.  (see column-4 link)  ref: New York Sun  (see column 2 link) next

1895 Oct 12:  The ship John C. Potter arrived at San Francisco having safely passed through as experience almost unparalleled in maritime annals. She was in the midst of an earthquake at sea. The Captain of the vessel does not insist that it was an earthquake in the sense that  it was a shaking of the solid ground far beneath him, but he does say that the effects produced on board the potter were precisely those that would have been produced had the vessel been on dry land during one of the convulsions that the earth hereabouts is sometimes subjects to. Every man on board felt the shaking and everyone who experienced the tremor agrees with the captain when he says that it must have been a convulsion of the earth shook the ocean.On October 12 the weather was perfect. The ship was gliding smoothly along under full sail. Suddenly it seemed as if the ship was sinking. Every person on board felt that peculiar “gone” feeling typical of earthquakes. The whole vessel shook. The yards shivered, making the masts rattle. The shaking of the ship made every bit of the standing rigging “crawl.” In other words, even the taut ropes shook as loose lines might be shaken. The life-boats moved. the water vats shifted. everything on deck took a start. There was no sudden thump, but a quaking that lasted fully half a minute, as it seemed to most of the men. The ship shook long enough to bring the chinese scampering out of their bunks,It was indeed a courageous member of the crew whose face did not blanch while the queer sensation continued. When the “seaquake” ceased every thing was smooth and lovely as before and the bounding on merrily through the tiny waves as if not the least the same day in latitude 43° 5 N’. 128° 12′ W., experienced a severe shock of earthquake lasting twenty five seconds. It made the ship shake as if it had been jumped over a coral reef in a heavy swell.*   (link)

ref: Los Angeles Times

1896 May 16:   The schooner Port Townsend was hit by undersea quake at the entrance of San Juan de Fuca Straits, a wide waterway stretching from the Pacific Ocean on the west to the San Juan Islands on the east, with Vancouver Island to the north and the Olympic Peninsula to the south. The Strait of Georgia lies north of the San Juans. Puget Sound is the narrower waters south of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Port Townsend quivered and trembled from stem to stern and there was nothing moveable on board that did not bob around like a cork. The water was calm during the shock but thinks on board sailed around as if they were on wheels. The passengers and crew were lying around the deck in a lazy manner, in the day just before the earthquake happened. (link) next

1896 June 15:   The northeast coast of Hondo, the main island of Japan, was struck by a great earthquake wave (tsunami), which was more destructive of life and property than any earthquake convulsion of this century in that empire. The whole coastline of the Sanriku, the three provinces of Rikuzen, Rikuchu, and Kikuoka, from the island of Kinkwazan, 38° 20’ north, northward for 175 miles, was laid waste by a great wave moving from the east and south, that varied in recorded height from 10 to 50 feet. A few survivors, who saw it advancing in the darkness, report its height as 80 to 100 feet. With a difference of but thirty minutes in time between the southern and northern points, it struck the Sanriku coast and in a trice obliterated towns and villages, killed 26,975 people out of the original population, and grievously wounded the 5,390 survivors. It washed away and wrecked 9,313 houses, stranded some 300 larger craft—steamers, schooners, and junks—and crushed or carried away 10,000 fishing boats, destroying property to the value of six million yen. Thousands of acres of arable land were turned to wastes, projecting rocks offshore were broken, overturned, or moved hundreds of yards, shallows and bars were formed, and in some localities the entire shoreline was changed.

Ref: National Geographic, September 1896.  (link) Next

1897 May 03:  The British schooner Zoe reports that a heavy earthquake shock was felt lasting 30 seconds. The Zoe was above the mid-ocean ridge in the North Atlantic north of the Azores. (link) next

1897 May 10:  Vessels arriving at the Port from distant ports report having felt the disturbance during the voyage. The barque Coorong, which reached the Semaphore anchorage on Tuesday morning from Natal, experienced a shock when near Aldinga Bay, located on the east coast of Gulf St Vincent in South Australia about 40 kilometers (25 mi) south-southwest of Adelaide, about a mile south of Glenelg. This was at 2.26 on Monday afternoon. A distinct tremor was felt throughout the shipwhich was under full sail at the time, but no damage was done. (link) next

1897 Dec 13:  The Queen of the South when about three miles north of Kapiti Island, off the west coast of North Island, New Zealand, felt the shock on Wednesday morning, the sensation experienced being as if the vessel was grating over rocks. All the gear rattled as if the boat had been shaken by some giant hand.*  (link)

1898 May 22:  The officers of one of the United States cruisers which arrived at Key West that while off Cape San Antonio (the western extremity of Cuba) yesterday afternoon a terrific explosion was heard from the direction of the shore, but apparently many miles away. There was an upheaval of water all about the ship, and the cruiser herself vibrated with the shock from stem to stern. Many are inclined to think that the phenomenon was an earthquake.

Ref: New York Times  *(link)

1898 Nov 08: The British steamer Breconshire, which has arrived from Java with a cargo og sugar, brings a remarkable tale of phenomenon witnessed while the vessel was but two weeks out of port and in the southern part of the Indian ocean.According to the story, which is told in a manner so graphic and so free from exaggeration as to leave little doubt regarding its genuineness, the captain and crew saw thrown up by a mighty upheaval of the subterranean strata of the ocean’s bed a curious island of basaltic formation and which came into existence almost in the twinkling of an eye.  (link) next

1899 Mar 02:  The third officer of the steamer Tacohama, P.H. Henig, send a letter to the U.S hydrographic office that At 9:52 a. m.. March 2. in latitude 33 degrees, 33 minutes 2 seconds north and longitude 126 degrees 21 minutes 33 seconds east, we experienced a quite heavy earthquake. The shock and the vibration of the vessel lasted for sixteen seconds. The barometer showed at that time 30.15, and during my watch up to the shock the wind was very light and from east-northeast. It quickly shifted to east one-half south, Increasing but very little. Ref: San Francisco Call, Volume 85, Number 117, 27 March 1899*  (link)

1899 Mar 25:  EARTHQUAKE AT SEA— The local Branch hydro-graphic office of the Navy yesterday received details of a violent earthquake at sea during the early part of this month. P. J. Henning, third officer of the streamer Tacoma, made the observation and forwarded the record of the disturbance to Lieutenant W. S. Hughes. The Tacoma runs between Tacoma and Yokohama. The earthquake happened at (9:52 a. m. of March 7th. The Tacoma was at the time in latitude north 33 deg. 33 min. and longitude east 136 deg. 22 min. The earthquake lasted sixteen seconds, and for a while it was thought that the steamer had struck a sunken rock. The utmost consternation prevailed on board, and it was several hours before the excitement subsided. So violent was the shock that the engineer on watch at the time was thrown to the deck with considerable violence. Havoc was wrought among the ship’s crockery, and the ship’s company and passengers received a jar to their nerves that will not be soon forgotten. *

The Hawaiian star. (Ref: Honolulu [Oahu]), 01 April 1899, Page 3) Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Seaquakes 1800s Lib. of Congress.

1899 April 02:  An earthquake at sea is an awesome sensation. The American barque Rufus E. Wood felt the shock when on her voyage from Sydney to San Francisco. The captain says that the earthquake happened on April 2nd, when the vessel was in latitude 33 degrees south and longitude 180 degrees west. There were several shocks with little intervals between them. It was thought at first that the vessel had struck a sunken rock. The watch below came tumbling up, and all hands made a rush to stand by the boats. The vessel trembled and shook while the earthquake continued, and for some minutes afterwards terror reigned supreme on the barque’s decks. * (link)