1907 Kingston Earthquake

In Jamaica, January 14, 1907 the relatively simple and quiet existence of the city of Kingston was hit at about 3 pm by three shocks which caused considerable damage to every building in the city and spawned a fire that gutted much of the commercial centre. Property valued at some two million pounds sterling lay in ruins.

For the inhabitants of Kingston, the thirty seconds just past 3:30 pm on January 14, 1907 were the nightmare of a lifetime. It did not end with the earthquake. Before nerves were calmed, a fire started which completed the devastation. The commercial area of downtown Kingston, bounded on the east by Mark Lane, west to Orange Street, South Parade to the north and the sea to the south, was in shambles. “Everything crashed.” The day was not easily forgotten by those who experienced and survived the tremor. They saw around them, clouds of dust, crumbled buildings, masses of debris. In addition, there was the screams of the trapped, and later the gruesome sight of the charred bodies of man and animals. Water pipes were broken, tram lines were twisted, electric poles bent. The earthquake claimed 1200 lives out of the population of 48,000. According to an eyewitness report by P.A Smith on the water front “streets finished up flush with the water’s edge, the gutters were running in blood and colouring the water for quite sixty yards out.” Although much emphasis has been placed on the effect of the Kingston area where $2 million in damage (excluding damage to government municipal buildings) was done, the quake was felt through the entire western end of Jamaica and severely damaged the North Coast towns of Buff Bay, Annotto Bay and Port Maria as well as the hillside villages between the North Coast and Kingston. The 1907 earthquake was neither the firs not the most severe tremor experienced in Jamaica. In 1692 some 3000 persons lost their lives in the great earthquake which devastated Port Royal.
Following the 1907 earthquake days later Kingston resembled a ghost town-empty, silent, dark and broken. £2,000,000 of damage was assessed.

A number of explanations were put forward as to what caused the earthquake. From present knowledge, the explanation put forward by Taber (1920) is the most likely. He Stated: The earthquake was due to a sudden displacement along a fault located a few kilometres off the north coast of Jamaica in the vicinity of Buff Bay and Annotto Bay. Immediately after the earthquake attention was naturally concentrated in Kingston but as time passed it became apparent that the violence of the shaking, if not the destruction, was almost as great on the north coast at Buff and Annotto Bays as it was in Kingston. Hall gave an intensity of VI, the highest on his scale, to Buff Bay and Enfield as well as o Kingston and Port Royal and his knowledge of high intensities to the north probably explains why he assigns additional epicenters to the earthquake.

Sea Wave : tsunami
The earthquake was followed by a seismic wave or tsunami. All contemporary accounts agree that the wave on the north coast arrived at points from Port Antonio to St. Ann’s Bay very shortly after the earthquake, the usual estimate being about three minutes. The velocity of tsunamis waves in water of this depth is of the order of 150 metres/second so that on this basis the position of generation of the tsunami must have been about 27 km (17 miles ) from the north coast in the region of Annotto Bay. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the waves was not observed on the south coast.

Source: https://goo.gl/1BBvXj, https://goo.gl/1BBvXj, https://goo.gl/i5mBx8, https://goo.gl/8Urfx6


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