On the 13th of August last, and the three successive days, fearful earthquakes occurred on the coast of Peru and in the interior of Ecuador, extending from Ibarra, a town of Ecuador, fifty miles to the north of Quito, to Arica, Arequipo, and Iquique, along the coast for a distance of 1,200 miles, and over a wide, but as yet unascertained region of the interior. The particulars of the catastrophe are familiar to our read ers. An English exchange, in discussing this disaster in connection with earthquakes in general, gives some interesting details, from which we condense the following : Of all the great and overwhelming evils to which men are exposed, there is no one so sudden, so terrible, and so destructive as that produced by earthquakes in those regions in which the great internal fires of the earth, or the vapors produced by chemical or other action, are still in full force. It is the opinion of the great Humboldt that if we could obtain daily intelligence of the condition of the whole surface of the earth, we should probably arrive at the conviction that the surface is almost always shaking at some point, and that it is incessantly affected by causes working at one point or other in the interior of the earth. Earthquakes probably owe their origin to the high temperature of deep-seated molten strata in the interior, and are quite independent of the nature of the rocks or of the earth near Ae surface, Earthquake shocks have been felt even in the loose alluvial soil of Holland; and the great earthquake wkich destroyed the city of Lisbon on the 1st of Kovember, 1755, was felt as far north as the shores of the Baltic and the mountains of Scotland. But it is one great happiness which the natives of the British Islands and Northern Europe possess that they have long been free from earthquakes of destructive violence. The great internal fires or forces, of whatever nature they may be, by which destructive earthquakes are produced, seem to have exhausted their Strength, at least for some hundred years now past, in Northern Europe. Yet, our distance from these great centers of commotion is not so great as we generally suppose. The earthquake of Lisbon in 1755 was probably one of the great est convulsions in modern times, and attended with the most terrible loss of life. That at Messina, in Sicily, in the year 1783, was scarcely less terrible or fatal, and nearly the whole of the south of Spain, of Italy, and of Greece have at various times been shaken and convulsed with earthquakes. Happily, however, they do not appear in modern times to have exercised any destructive influence north of the chain of the Alps, although tremblings of the earth were felt almost every hour, for months together, in the month of April, 1808, on the eastern declivity of Mont Cenis, a portion of the chain of the Alps at Fenestrelles, and Pignesol. Beyond that point these great internal forces, though often felt, have never produced any dangerous convulsion in modern times, and the natives of Prance, Germany, and the British Islands may regard it as one of the many great advantages for which they have reason to be thankful that they are now, and have been for many genejations, free from destructive ravages of forces by which so many other portions of the earth are periodically laid waste. The people of the United States have, to a great extent, the same reason for gratitude; for, although there were very destructive earthquakes in the valley of the Mississippi in the years 1810-11, there never yet has been an earthquake by which any considerable city of the United States has been destroyed. Prom the West Indies southward, over the greater part of South America, the causes by which the earthquakes are produced appear still to be in action. In the earthquake of Rio Banba, in the same district of country which has just been laid waste, the whole city of Eio Banba, with 30,000 or 40,000 inhabitants, was destroyed in a few minutes by a sudden explosion like the blowing up of a mine. Humboldt states that this terrible event was unaccompanied by any noise, but that a great subterranean detonation was heard twenty minutes after the catastrophe at Quito and Ibarra, one of the towns or cities destroyed in the recent earthquake in Peru. It was not, however, even heard at Tacunga, another of the places destroyed, although that place is (or rather was) nearer to the great convulsion of 1797. In the celebrated earthquake of Lima and CalMa(Oct. 28, 1746), a noise resembling a subterranean thunderclap was heard a quarter of an hour later at Truxillo, but unaccompanied by movement. In like manner after the great earthquake of : New Granada (Nov. 16, 1827), subterranean detonations were heard with great regularity at intervals of thirty seconds throughout the whole Cauca Valley, while at a distance of I 63% miles to the north-east the crater of the volcano of St. Vincent, one of the small islands of the West Indies, was pouring forth a prodigious stream of lava. During the violent earthquake in New Granada, in Pebruary, 1835, subterranean thunder was heard as far north as the islands of Jamaica and Hayti, as well as the lake of Nicaragua. Won- derful as these distances are, they are not greater than the; vibration produced by the great earthquake of Lisbon, which j was felt over a space four times as large as the whole of Eu- rope. In that great convulsion the sea rose at Cadiz, in con- sequence of the commotion of the earth, above sixty feet; and in the West India Islands, where it usually does not rise more than three feet, to an elevation of at least twenty feet. There is no manifestation of force yet known to us (including the murderous inventions of our own race) by which a greater number of human beings have been lulled in the j short space of a few seconds or minutes than in the case of earthquakes. Sixty thousand were destroyed in Sicily in 1693; 30,000 to 40,000 at Rio Banba, in South America, in 1797; and perhaps five times as many in Asia Minor and Syria, under Tiberius and the elder Justinian, in the years 19 and 526. We fear that this new calamity in Ecuador and Peru will prove, when all the results are known, nearly equal to some of the above. New American Pigment. The London Mining Journal in noticing Some extraordinary pufts of a pigment, known here as Bartletts Lead, says : The process described, and the resulting product, are alike improbable, if not impossible. The mine from which the raw material is derived was described as being first in New Jersey and then in North Carolina; yet the removal of the mine would be much more simple than the production of the pigment stated by the process described. An ore, which contains various metals—lead, silver, zinc, copper, gold, iron, and manganese—is treated so as to remove the silver, lead, and gold, and when the residuum has been subjected to a white-red heat, the powder becomes impalpable and delicately soft, and of a pinkish chocolate color—this seems to be a common impure iron paint. This powder is made into white lead by burning it with small hard coal in a closed furnace, from which the mineral is drawn off by large rotary fans in minute and delicate flakes, which prove upon analysis to be composed of lead and zinc, with a small percentage of cadmium. In this process, the transmutation of metals is an accomplished fact; and, assuming that it can be carried out in practice, it must be admitted that all existing chemical knowledge is absolutely worthless.”
This article was originally published with the title "About Earthquakes"