Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Benjamin Morrell and the Galapagos Eruption of 1825

The page Galapagos: Benjamin Morell has text taken from a first hand account of Captain Benjamin Morrell who ran into a Galapagos volcano as it was erupting in the 19th century. On 14 February of 1825, while anchored in Banks Bay, this captain and his crew witnessed, and barely survived, one of the most spectacular eruptions in Galapagos history at Fernandina Volcano.

It was a close call for Morell and his crew! Kim Kavin in wrote in Gal├ípagos, Enchanted Islands, "Morrell’s flagging sails caught a life-saving breeze about the time the air temperature reached 147 degrees. Tar was melting from the rigging. Pitch was oozing from the vessel’s seams. When he finally reached a safe place to anchor more than 50 miles away, he could still hear Fernandina’s thunderous rumbling. He was undoubtedly stunned to have escaped with his life."

From the site:

On Monday the fourteenth, at two o'clock, AM, while the sable mantle of night was yet spread over the mighty Pacific, shrouding the neighboring islands from our view, and while the stillness of death reigned everywhere about us, our ears were suddenly assailed by a sound that could only be equalled by ten thousand thunders bursting upon the air at once; while, at the same instant, the whole hemisphere was lighted up with a horrid glare that might have appalled the stoutest heart! I soon ascertained that one of the volcanoes of Narborough island, which had quietly slept for the last ten years, had suddently broken forth with accumulated vengence.

The sublimity, the majesty, the terrific grandeur of this scene baffle the description and set the powers of languate at defiance. had the fires of Milton's hell burst its vault of adamant, and threatened the heavens with conflagration, his description of the incident would have been appropriate to the present subject. No words that I can command will give the reader even a faint idea of the awful splendour of the great reality.

Had it been the "crack of doom" that aroused them, my men could not have been sooner on deck, where they stood gazing like "sheeted spectres," speechless and bewildered with astonishment and dismay. The heavens appeared to be one blaze of fire, intermingled with millions of falling stars and meteors; while the flames shot upward from the peak of Narborough to the height of at least two thousand feet in air. All hands soon became sensible of the cause of the startling phenomenon, and on recovering from their first panic could contemplate its progress with some degree of composure.

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