The Earthquake of Tokio, April 18, 1889


DR. VON REBEUR-PASCHWITZ'S letter, which appeared in NATURE, vol. xl. p. 294, is of special interest to us in Japan, countenancing as it does the conjecture that the very peculiar earthquake felt and registered here on April 18 was the result of a disturbance of unusual magnitude. It was my good fortune on the day in question to be engaged in conversation with Prof. Sekiya in the Seismological Laboratory at the very instant the earthquake occurred. We at once rushed to the room where the self-recording instruments lay, and there, for the first time in our experience, had the delight of viewing the pointers mark their sinuous curves on the revolving plates and cylinders. At first sight it seemed as if the pointers had gone mad, tracing out sinuosities of amplitudes five or six times greater than the greatest that had ever before been recorded in Tokio. There was not much sensation of an earthquake; indeed, after the first slight tremor that attracted our attention, we felt nothing at all, although in the irregular oscillations of the seismograph pointers we had evidence enough that an earthquake was passing. Very few in Tokio were aware that there had been an earthquake till they read the report of it in the next day's papers. Thus the motion, though large, was too slow to cause any of the usual sensations that accompany earthquakes, and suggested a distant origin and a large disturbance, with a consequent wide extension of seismic effect. Excepting the slight tremors recorded at Potsdam and Wilhelmshaven, there has been, so far, no evidence of any such far-reaching action.

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KNOTT, C. The Earthquake of Tokio, April 18, 1889. Nature 41, 32 (1889).

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