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1755 Lisbon earthquake

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Illyria
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« on: June 30, 2009, 01:13:03 pm »

1755 Lisbon earthquake

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake, took place on November 1, 1755, at around 9:40 in the morning.[1] The earthquake was followed by a tsunami and fires, which caused near-total destruction of Lisbon in Portugal, and adjoining areas. Geologists today estimate the Lisbon earthquake approached magnitude 9 on the Richter scale, with an epicenter in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 km (120 mi) west-southwest of Cape St. Vincent. Estimates place the death toll in Lisbon alone between 10,000 and 100,000 people,[2] making it one of the most destructive earthquakes in history.

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Illyria
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2009, 01:13:14 pm »

The earthquake accentuated political tensions in Portugal and profoundly disrupted the country's eighteenth-century colonial ambitions. The event was widely discussed and dwelt upon by European Enlightenment philosophers, and inspired major developments in theodicy and in the philosophy of the sublime. As the first earthquake studied scientifically for its effects over a large area, it led to the birth of modern seismology and earthquake engineering.

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Illyria
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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2009, 01:13:43 pm »



This 1755 copper engraving shows the ruins of Lisbon in flames and a tsunami overwhelming the ships in the harbor.
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Illyria
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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2009, 01:14:12 pm »



A depiction of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake as seen from the Atlantic
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Illyria
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« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2009, 01:14:35 pm »

The earthquake and tsunami

The Azores-Gibraltar Transform Fault which marks the boundary between the African (Nubian) and the Eurasian continental plates runs westward from Gibraltar into the Atlantic. It shows a complex and active tectonic behavior, and is responsible for several important earthquakes that hit Lisbon before November 1755: eight in the 14th century, five in the 16th century (including the 1531 earthquake that destroyed 1,500 houses, and the 1597 earthquake when three streets vanished), and three in the 17th century. During the 18th century, earthquakes were reported in 1724 and 1750.
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Illyria
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« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2009, 01:14:46 pm »

In 1755, the earthquake struck on the morning of 1 November, the Catholic holiday of All Saints' Day. Contemporary reports state that the earthquake lasted between three-and-a-half and six minutes, causing gigantic fissures five-metres (15 ft) wide to appear in the city centre. Survivors rushed to the open space of the docks for safety and watched as the water receded, revealing a sea floor littered by lost cargo and old shipwrecks. Approximately forty minutes after the earthquake, an enormous tsunami engulfed the harbour and downtown, rushing up the Tagus river[3], "so fast that several people riding on horseback ... were forced to gallop as fast as possible to the upper grounds for fear of being carried away". It was followed by two more waves. In the areas unaffected by the tsunami, fire quickly broke out, and flames raged for five days.

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Illyria
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« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2009, 01:14:56 pm »

Lisbon was by far not the only Portuguese city affected by the catastrophe. Throughout the south of the country, in particular the Algarve, destruction was rampant. A tsunami destroyed some coastal fortresses in the Algarve and, in the lower levels, razed several houses. Almost all the coastal towns and villages of the Algarve were heavily damaged, except Faro, which was protected by the sandy banks of Ria Formosa. In Lagos, the waves reached the top of the city walls. Other towns of different Portuguese regions, like Peniche, Cascais, and even Covilhã which is located near the Serra da Estrela mountain range in central inland Portugal, were affected. The shock waves of the earthquake destroyed part of Covilhã's castle walls and its large towers. On the island of Madeira, Funchal and many smaller settlements suffered significant damage. Almost all of the ports in the Azores archipelago suffered most of their destruction from the tsunami, with the sea penetrating about 150 m inland.

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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2009, 01:15:08 pm »

Shocks from the earthquake were felt throughout Europe as far as Finland and North Africa, and according to some sources even in Greenland[4] and in the Carribean[5]. Tsunamis as tall as 20 metres (66 ft) swept the coast of North Africa, and struck Martinique and Barbados across the Atlantic. A three-metre (ten-foot) tsunami hit Cornwall on the southern English coast. Galway, on the west coast of Ireland, was also hit, resulting in partial destruction of the "Spanish Arch" section of the city wall.

Although seismologists and geologists had always agreed that the epicenter was in the Atlantic to the West of the Iberian peninsula, its exact location has been a subject of considerable debate. Early theories had propsed the Gorringe Ridge until simulations showed that a source closer to the shore of Portugal was required to comply with the observed effects of the tsunami. A seismic reflection survey of the ocean floor along the Azores-Gibraltar fault has revealed a 50 km-long thrust structure Southwest of Cape St. Vincent, with a dip-slip throw of more than 1 km, that might have been created by the primary tectonic event.[6]

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Illyria
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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2009, 01:15:36 pm »


Estimated epicentre of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.
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Illyria
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« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2009, 01:16:06 pm »



Calculated travel times for the tsunami waves of Nov. 1, 1755
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Illyria
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« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2009, 01:16:30 pm »

Economic and cultural impact

Economic historian Alvaro Pereira estimated that of Lisbon's population of approximately 200,000 people, some 30,000-40,000 were killed. Another 10,000 may have lost their lives in Morocco, although local reports are vague and damage reports relating to the November 1 event are difficult to separate from those of another series of local earthquakes that occurred on Nov. 18-19.[7] The total death toll in Portugal, Spain and Morocco from the earthquake and the resulting fires and tsunami was estimated at 40,000 to 50,000 people.[8]

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« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2009, 01:16:42 pm »

Eighty-five percent of Lisbon's buildings were destroyed, including famous palaces and libraries, as well as most examples of Portugal's distinctive 16th-century Manueline architecture. Several buildings that had suffered little earthquake damage were destroyed by the subsequent fire. The new Opera House, opened just six months before (named the Phoenix Opera), burned to the ground. The Royal Ribeira Palace, which stood just beside the Tagus river in the modern square of Terreiro do Paço, was destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami. Inside, the 70,000-volume royal library as well as hundreds of works of art, including paintings by Titian, Rubens, and Correggio, were lost. The royal archives disappeared together with detailed historical records of explorations by Vasco da Gama and other early navigators. The earthquake also damaged major churches in Lisbon, namely the Lisbon Cathedral, the Basilicas of São Paulo, Santa Catarina, São Vicente de Fora, and the Misericordia Church. The Royal Hospital of All Saints (the largest public hospital at the time) in the Rossio square was consumed by fire and hundreds of patients burned to death. The tomb of national hero Nuno Álvares Pereira was also lost. Visitors to Lisbon may still walk the ruins of the Carmo Convent, which were preserved to remind Lisboners of the destruction.

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« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2009, 01:17:14 pm »



The ruins of the Carmo Convent, which was destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake.
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Illyria
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« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2009, 01:18:37 pm »

Relief and reconstruction efforts

The royal family escaped unharmed from the catastrophe; King Joseph I of Portugal and the court had left the city, after attending mass at sunrise, fulfilling the wish of one of the king's daughters to spend the holiday away from Lisbon. After the catastrophe, Joseph I developed a fear of living within walls, and the court was accommodated in a huge complex of tents and pavilions in the hills of Ajuda, then on the outskirts of Lisbon. The king's claustrophobia never waned, and it was only after Joseph's death that his daughter Maria I of Portugal began building the royal Ajuda Palace, which still stands on the site of the old tented camp. Like the king, the prime minister Sebastião de Melo (the Marquis of Pombal) survived the earthquake. When asked what was to be done,
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« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2009, 01:19:00 pm »

Pombal reportedly replied "Bury the dead and heal the living,"[9] and set upon organizing relief and rehabilitation efforts. Firefighters were sent to extinguish the raging flames, and teams of workers and ordinary citizens were ordered to remove the thousands of corpses before disease could spread. Contrary to custom and against the wishes of the Church, many corpses were loaded onto barges and buried at sea beyond the mouth of the Tagus. To prevent disorder in the ruined city, the Portuguese Army was deployed and gallows were constructed at high points around the city to deter looters; more than thirty people were publicly executed.[10] The Army prevented many able-bodied citizens from fleeing, pressing them into relief and reconstruction work.
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