Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/389

This page has been validated.
375
REMARKABLE VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES.

themselves, such as the monks in charge of parishes where the greatest damage was done, and are sufficiently vivid, however much they may lack of what would now be called "scientific" accuracy.

Probably the most remarkable volcanic outburst in historical times, on account of the distance apart of the simultaneous eruptions, although its intensity might not be regarded as great when compared with that of Krakatoa, was that of January 4, 1641, when a volcano on the southeastern extremity of Mindanao, another on the northern coast of the island of Sulu to the west, and a third in Luzon far to the north, became active at the same time. A translation of the original Spanish report of this extraordinary phenomenon, which is extremely rare and practically inaccessible to students, is given in Jagor's Reisen in den Philippinen. From this it appears that upon two occasions, toward the end of December, 1640, volcanic ashes fell at Zamboanga (on the southwest coast of Mindanao) and covered the fields like a light frost. On January 1, 1641, the auxiliary fleet carrying troops from Manila to the island of Ternate was off Zamboanga, and on the 3d, at about 7 p.m., people in the latter place heard what they supposed was artillery and musketry firing at some miles' distance. Believing that an enemy was attacking the coast, preparations were made to meet him, and the commander of the galleys sent a boat out to see if any of the vessels of the fleet needed assistance, but the boat returned without finding the fleet.

On the next day, January 4, 1641, at about 9 a.m., the noise of the supposed cannonading increased to such an extent that it was feared in Zamboanga that the Spanish fleet had been attacked by the Dutch, with whom the Spaniards were then at war. This noise lasted about half an hour, when it became evident that it was not caused by artillery, but proceeded from the outbreak of a volcano, for, toward noon, thick darkness began to spread over the sky to the south, which soon covered that part of the heavens and gradually spread over the whole sky, so that by 1 p.m. it was as dark as night, and by 2 p.m. the darkness had so increased that one could not distinguish objects a short distance off. Candles were lighted, and a great fear fell upon the people, who fled to the churches to pray and confess. This darkness, during which no light was visible in the whole horizon, lasted until 2 a.m., when the moon became visible, to the great joy of both Spaniards and Indians, who were afraid of being buried beneath the ashes which had been falling since 2 p.m. The fleet, which was then passing the southern end of Mindanao, was thrown into confusion by the tumult of the elements, and was in darkness earlier than Zamboanga—viz., at 10 a.m.—because it was nearer