Letter | Published:

Abnormal Atlantic Waves


In 1887 (NATURE, vol. xxxvii. p. 151) you kindly published a few remarks from me on the possible volcanic origin of the two waves which swept the decks of the steamers Umbria and Faraday, and which, from the data then available, seemed to have originated at a point in the Atlantic known as the “Faraday Reef,” and marked with a cross (+) on the accompanying chart. I am now able to send you the details of a few similar cases which I have collected since then. The exact positions of the vessels, and the directions from which these solitary waves seemed to come, being also marked on the chart. In the case of H. M.S. Orontes the ship's course was not stated, and on account of darkness and other causes the directions from which some of the other waves came are not to be depended upon. None of these encounters would have been reported had they not caused much damage—masts and funnels going by the board, and bul lacks, deckhouses, and lifeboats being smashed; but many seafaring men can recall solitary and abnormally high waves having struck their vessels, although the sea was otherwise quiet. Amongst the strange results which these blows have produced, may be mentioned that the magnetism of the steamship Energia was thus suddenly altered sufficiently to introduce an error of 18° into the compass readings. The full details about this and a few other vessels have not been obtained.

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