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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/381

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MODERN STUDIES OF EARTHQUAKES.

of the shocks. It has cast much doubt on speculations as to the seasons in which earthquakes are more or less frequent; and it has demonstrated the inadequacy of former methods of determining the central focus. It has furthermore brought us much that is new. First is the momentous fact that the earth's crust is never at rest; that it undergoes a multitude of very diversified movements besides those of the earthquake. Thus a periodical swelling, a flood wave, is produced by the attraction of the moon; and other heavings are induced by the daily and annual course of the sun's heat. But such movements and other similar ones do not come within the scope of this article.

Real earthquakes, or movements that originate in the depths of the earth, also appear in very different forms. First are the directly perceptible shocks, from the powerful ones that create great disturbances to the merely local ones often hardly remarked. Of the immediate workings of these shocks, microscopic instruments have taught us nothing essentially new. But very many macroscopic movements, often continuing for several hours, but which are not felt, have been revealed, that have been shown in many instances to be distant effects of other strong earthquakes; effects which are sometimes propagated over the whole surface of the earth. There is, furthermore, another series of movements, only partly explained as yet, of a peculiar sort: first, small, quickly passing disturbances, which appear in the photographic reproductions of the curves as larger or smaller knots, and which are regarded with great probability as distant effects of minor seismic movements most likely imperceptible anywhere. They can not be local earthquakes, for they give entirely different curves. There also appear, with considerable regularity, at certain seasons of the year, very slow movements of the ground, called pulsations; and finally the multitude of vibrations called tremors, which assume various forms. Sometimes they come as forerunners, accompaniments, or followers in close association with those great disturbances that originate in distant earthquakes; sometimes as shocks of minute intensity in separate groups, which it has not yet been possible to account for; and in other cases they are traced to the shaking of the ground by the wind. It is hardly necessary to observe that the seismic apparatus should be most carefully guarded against disturbance by the movements of trade, wagons, etc., so that the problem shall not be complicated by them.

The theory of the nature of earthquake shocks, their transmission and their velocity, has been set in a new light by the labors of Augustus Smith, of Stuttgart. From some calculations of their velocity made by G. von Nebeur, it is found that the earthquake of April 17, 1889, in Tokio, Japan, was perceived in Potsdam, Prussia, nine thou-