A Study of Recent Earthquakes
The following is from A Study of Recent Earthquakes by Charles Davison, Sc.D., F.G.S. (published 1905):
Chapter I - Introduction
I propose in this book to describe a few of the more important earthquakes that have occurred during the last half century. In judging of importance, the standard which I have adopted is not that of intensity only, but rather of the scientific value of the results that have been achieved by the study of the shocks. Even with this reservation, the number of earthquakes that might be included is considerable; and I have therefore selected those which seem to illustrate best the different methods of investigation employed by seismologists, or which are of special interest owing to the unusual character of their phenomena or to the light cast by them on the nature and origin of earthquakes in general.
Thus, the Neapolitan earthquake possesses interest from a historical point of view; it is the first earthquake in the study of which modern scientific methods were employed. The Ischian earthquakes are described as examples of those connected with volcanic action; the Andalusian earthquake is chiefly remarkable for the recognition of the unfelt earth-waves; that of Charleston for the detection of the double epicentre and the calculation of the velocity with which the vibrations travelled. In the Riviera earthquake are combined the principal features of the last two shocks with several phenomena of miscellaneous interest, especially those connected with its submarine foci. The Japanese earthquake is distinguished from others by its extraordinary fault-scarp and the very numerous shocks that followed it. The Hereford earthquake is a typical example of a twin earthquake, and provided many observations on the sound phenomena; while the Inverness earthquakes are important on account of their connection with the growth of a well-known fault. The great Indian earthquake owns few, if any, rivals within historical times, whether we consider the intensity of the disturbance or the diversity and interest of the phenomena displayed by it--the widespread changes in the earth's crust, both superficial and deep-seated, and the tracking of the unfelt pulsations completely round the globe.
Terms and Definitions
Some terms are of such frequent use in describing earthquakes that it will be convenient to group them here for reference, others more rarely employed being introduced as they are required.
An earthquake is caused by a sudden displacement of the material which composes the earth's interior. The displacement gives rise to series of waves, which are propagated outwards in all directions, and which, when they reach the surface, produce the sensations known to us as those of an earthquake.
The region within which the displacement occurs is sometimes called the hypocentre, but more frequently the seismic focus or simply the focus. The portion of the earth's surface which is vertically above the seismic focus is called the epicentre. The focus and epicentre are often spoken of for convenience as if they were points, and they may then be regarded as the centres of the region and area in which the intensity was greatest. This is not quite accurate, but to attempt a more exact definition would at present be out of place.
An isoseismal line is a curve which passes through all points at which the intensity of the shock was the same. It is but rarely that the absolute intensity at any point of an isoseismal line can be ascertained, and only one example is given in this volume. As a rule, the intensity of a shock is determined by reference to the degrees of different arbitrary scales. These will be quoted when required.
In every strong earthquake there is a central district which differs in a marked manner from that outside in the far greater strength and complexity of the phenomena. As this district includes the epicentre, it is sometimes referred to as the epicentral area, but the term meizoseismal area is more appropriate, and will be employed accordingly.
The district over which an earthquake is perceptible to human beings without instrumental aid is its disturbed area. In like manner, that over which the earthquake-sound is heard is the sound-area.
A great earthquake never occurs alone. It is merely the most prominent member of a group of shocks of greater or less intensity, and is known as the principal shock or earthquake, while the others are called minor or accessory shocks, and fore-shocks or after-shocks according as they occur before or after the principal earthquake. When the sound only is heard, without an accompanying tremor being anywhere perceptible, it is more accurately called an earth-sound, but is frequently for convenience numbered among the minor shocks.
The movement of the ground during a vibration of the simplest character (known as simple harmonic motion) is represented in Fig. 1. The pointer of the recording seismograph is here supposed to oscillate along a line at right angles to AB, and the smoked paper or glass on which the record is made to travel to the left. The distance MP of the crest P of any wave from the line AB represents the amplitude of the vibration, the sum of the distances MP and NQ its range, and the length AB the period of the vibration. From the amplitude and period we can calculate, in the case of simple harmonic motion, both the maximum velocity and maximum acceleration of the vibrating particles of the ground. 
A few terms describing the nature of the shock are also in common use among Italians and Spaniards. An undulatory shock consists of one or several waves, the movement to and fro being along a nearly horizontal line; a subsultory shock of movements in a nearly vertical direction; while a vorticose shock consists of undulatory or subsultory movements crossing one another in different directions.
Origin of Earthquakes
Earthquakes are grouped, according to their origin, into three classes. The first consists of slight local shocks, caused by the fall of rock in underground passages; the second of volcanic earthquakes, also local in character, but often of considerable intensity near the centre of the disturbed area; while in the third class we have tectonic earthquakes, or those directly connected with the shaping of the earth's crust, which vary in strength from the weakest perceptible tremor to the most destructive and widely felt shock. Of the earthquakes described in this volume, the Ischian earthquakes belong to the second class, and all the others to the third.
That tectonic earthquakes are closely connected with the formation of faults seems now established beyond doubt. They occur far from all traces of recent volcanic action. Their isoseismal lines are elongated in directions parallel to known faults, and this is sometimes the case in one and the same district with faults that occur at right angles to one another. Indeed, when several isoseismals are carefully drawn, it is possible from their form and relative position to predict the position of the originating fault.  The initial formation and further spreading of the rent may be the cause of a few earthquakes, but by far the larger number are due to the subsequent growth of the fault. The relative displacement of the rocks adjoining the fault, which may amount to thousands of feet, occasionally even to miles, is the result, not of one great movement, but of innumerable slips taking place in different parts of the fault and spread over vast ages of time. With every fault-slip, intense friction is suddenly brought into action by the rubbing of one mass of rock against the other; and, according to the modern view, it is this friction that gives rise to the earthquake waves.
In most earthquakes, the slip takes place at a considerable depth, perhaps not less than one or several miles, and the vertical slip is so small that it dies out before reaching the surface. But, in a few violent earthquakes, such as the Japanese and Indian earthquakes described in this volume, the slip is continued up to the surface and is left visible there as a small cliff or fault-scarp. In these cases, the sudden spring of the crust may increase and complicate the effects of the vibratory shock.
 If a is the amplitude of the vibration and T its period, the maximum velocity is 2*pi*a/T and the maximum acceleration 4*pi^2a/T^2
 See Chapter VIII., on the Hereford and Inverness earthquakes.