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Encyclopedia > 1755 Lisbon earthquake
This 1755 copper engraving shows the ruins of Lisbon in flames and a tsunami overwhelming the ships in the harbor.
This 1755 copper engraving shows the ruins of Lisbon in flames and a tsunami overwhelming the ships in the harbor.

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake, took place on November 1, 1755, at 9:40 in the morning. It was one of the most destructive and deadly earthquakes in history, killing between 60,000 and 100,000[citation needed] people (though the exact number is uncertain). The earthquake was followed by a tsunami and fire, resulting in the near-total destruction of Lisbon. The earthquake accentuated political tensions in Portugal and profoundly disrupted the country's eighteenth-century colonial ambitions. Image File history File links 1755_Lisbon_earthquake. ... Image File history File links 1755_Lisbon_earthquake. ... Location    - Country Portugal    - Region Lisboa  - Subregion Grande Lisboa  - District or A.R. Lisbon Mayor Carmona Rodrigues  - Party PSD Area 84. ... For other uses, see Tsunami (disambiguation). ... is the 305th day of the year (306th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1755 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of stored energy in the Earths crust that creates seismic waves. ... For other uses, see Tsunami (disambiguation). ... Location    - Country Portugal    - Region Lisboa  - Subregion Grande Lisboa  - District or A.R. Lisbon Mayor Carmona Rodrigues  - Party PSD Area 84. ...


The event was widely discussed 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 signaled the birth of modern seismology. 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. The Age of Enlightenment refers to the 18th century in European philosophy, and is often thought of as part of a larger period which includes the Age of Reason. ... The philosopher Socrates about to take poison hemlock as ordered by the court. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... In aesthetics, the sublime (from the Latin sublimis (exalted)) is the quality of transcendent greatness, whether physical, moral, intellectual or artistic. ... Seismology (from the Greek seismos = earthquake and logos = word) is the scientific study of earthquakes and the propagation of elastic waves through the Earth. ... The Geologist by Carl Spitzweg A geologist is a contributor to the science of geology, studying the physical structure and processes of the Earth and planets of the solar system (see planetary geology). ... The Richter magnitude test scale (or more correctly local magnitude ML scale) assigns a single number to quantify the size of an earthquake. ... The epicenter is directly above the earthquakes focus. ... ‹ The template below (Unit of length) is being considered for deletion. ... “Miles” redirects here. ... The Cabo de São Vicente (Cape St. ...

Contents

The earthquake

The ruins of the Carmo Convent, which was destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake.
The ruins of the Carmo Convent, which was destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake.

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 (16 ft) wide to appear in the city centre. The 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. It was followed by two more waves. In the areas unaffected by the tsunami, fire quickly broke out, and flames raged for five days. Download high resolution version (1704x2272, 1081 KB)Lisbons Convento do Carmo, which was gutted by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake This picture was taken 2003-10-22 12:52:17 PM WET and is released under the GNU Free Documentation License: File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file... Download high resolution version (1704x2272, 1081 KB)Lisbons Convento do Carmo, which was gutted by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake This picture was taken 2003-10-22 12:52:17 PM WET and is released under the GNU Free Documentation License: File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file... Ury House, Aberdeenshire ruined by removal of the roof after the second world war to avoid taxation. ... Ruins of the nave of the church of the Carmo Convent. ... is the 305th day of the year (306th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... All Saints in Poland The festival of All Saints, also sometimes known as All Hallows, or Hallowmas, is a feast celebrated in honour of all the saints and martyrs, known or unknown. ... ‹ The template below (Unit of length) is being considered for deletion. ... For other uses, see Tsunami (disambiguation). ... View over Tejo River from Almourol Castle in Portugal (May 2005). ...


Lisbon was not the only Portuguese city affected by the catastrophe. Throughout the south of the country, in particular the Algarve, destruction was rampant. The shockwaves of the earthquake were felt throughout Europe as far as Finland and North Africa. Tsunamis up to 20 metres (66 ft) in height swept the coast of North Africa, and struck Martinique and Barbados across the Atlantic. A three-metre (ten-foot) tsunami hit the southern English coast. Galway, on the west coast of Ireland, was also hit, resulting in the partial destruction of the "Spanish Arch". Algarve NUTS II region, and the district of Faro in Portugal. ... For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ...  Northern Africa (UN subregion)  geographic, including above North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, separated by the Sahara from Sub-Saharan Africa. ...  Northern Africa (UN subregion)  geographic, including above North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, separated by the Sahara from Sub-Saharan Africa. ... “Atlantic” redirects here. ... For other uses, see Tsunami (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... WGS-84 (GPS) Coordinates: , Statistics Province: Connacht County: Dáil Éireann: Galway West European Parliament: North-West Dialling Code: 091 Postal District(s): G Area: 50. ... The Spanish Arch, which is located on the banks of the river Corrib, was built in 1584. ...

Estimated epicentre of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.

Of a Lisbon population of 275 000, up to 90 000 were killed. Another 10 000 were killed in Morocco. 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 brand new Opera House, opened only six months before (under the ill-fated name Phoenix Opera), was 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 biggest 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. Image File history File links A map from the USGS showing the location of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. ... Image File history File links A map from the USGS showing the location of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. ... The epicenter or epicentre (ancient Greek: επίκεντρον) is the point on the Earths surface that is directly above or below the center of a localized explosive event or point of seismic energy release. ... In architecture, manueline is the sumptuous, composite Portuguese style of architectural ornamentation of the first decades of the 16th century, incorporating maritime elements and discoveries brought from the voyages of Vasco da Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral. ... 16th century drawing of the Ribeira Palace. ... View over Tejo River from Almourol Castle in Portugal (May 2005). ... View of the Arch linking the Commerce Square and Augusta Street. ... Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio (c. ... Peter Paul Rubens (June 28, 1577 – May 30, 1640) was a prolific seventeenth-century Flemish and European painter, and a proponent of an exuberant Baroque style that emphasized movement, color, and sensuality. ... Antonio Allegri da Correggio. ... For other uses, see Vasco da Gama (disambiguation). ... Santa Maria Maior de Lisboa or Sé de Lisboa is the cathedral of Lisbon and the oldest church in the city. ... St. ... The Church or Monastery of São Vicente de Fora — meaning of St. ... Main portal of the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição Velha. ... 16th-century drawing of Rossio square. ... View of the Rossio Square from the Santa Justa Lift. ... NunÁlvares Pereira 1360-1431 Blessed Nuno Álvares Pereira (1360-1431), also spelled NunÁlvares Pereira, was a Portuguese General of great success with an decisive role in the 1383-1385 Crisis that assured Portugals independence of Castile. ... Ruins of the nave of the church of the Carmo Convent. ...


It is said that many animals sensed danger and fled to higher ground before the water arrived. The Lisbon quake is the first documented reporting of such a phenomenon in Europe.


The day after

The Ruins of Lisbon. Survivors lived in tents on the outskirts of the city after the earthquake, as shown in this fanciful 1755 German engraving.
The Ruins of Lisbon. Survivors lived in tents on the outskirts of the city after the earthquake, as shown in this fanciful 1755 German engraving.
Detail from above: Executions in the aftermath of the Lisbon earthquake. At least 34 looters were hanged in the chaotic aftermath of the disaster. As a warning against looting, King Joseph I of Portugal ordered gallows to be constructed in several parts of the city.

Owing to a stroke of luck, 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. "Now? Bury the dead and take care of the living," he is reported to have said, and with the pragmatism that characterized his coming rule, the prime minister immediately began organizing the recovery and reconstruction. He sent firefighters into the city to extinguish the flames, and ordered teams to remove the thousands of corpses before disease spread. Contrary to custom and against the wishes of representatives 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, and, in particular, as a deterrent against looting, gallows were constructed at high points around the city and at least 34[citation needed] people were executed. The Portuguese Army surrounded the city to prevent the able-bodied from fleeing, so that they could be pressed into clearing the ruins. 1755 German copperplate image, The Ruins of Lisbon. ... 1755 German copperplate image, The Ruins of Lisbon. ... Lisbon in the aftermath of the 1755 earthquake, showing persons being hanged in the presence of priests and military officials. ... Lisbon in the aftermath of the 1755 earthquake, showing persons being hanged in the presence of priests and military officials. ... Joseph I (Portuguese José, pron. ... These gallows in Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park are maintained by Arizona State Parks. ... Joseph I (Portuguese José, pron. ... Claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder that involves the fear of enclosed or confined spaces. ... Maria I of Portugal (pron. ... Palácio Nacional da Ajuda and statue of King Luis I. The Ajuda National Palace (Portuguese: Palácio Nacional da Ajuda) is a neoclassical monument in the city of Lisbon, in Portugal. ... The Marquis of Pombal, or Marquês de Pombal, (13 May 1699 - 15 May 1782) was a Portuguese politician and statesman, prime minister of king Joseph I of Portugal throughout his reign. ... Self propelled barge carrying bulk crushed stone A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. ... Burial at Sea for two victims of a Japanese submarine attack on the US aircraft carrier Liscome Bay, November 1943 Burial at sea describes the procedure of disposing of human remains in the ocean. ... Looting (which derives via the Hindi lut from Sanskrit lung, to rob), sacking, plundering, or pillaging is the indiscriminate taking of goods by force as part of a military or political victory, or during a catastrophe or riot, such as during war,[1] natural disaster,[2] or rioting. ... These gallows in Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park are maintained by Arizona State Parks. ...


Not long after the initial crisis, the prime minister and the king quickly hired architects and engineers, and less than a year later, Lisbon was free from debris and undergoing reconstruction. The king was keen to have a new, perfectly ordained city. Big squares and rectilinear, large avenues were the mottos of the new Lisbon. At the time, somebody asked the Marquis of Pombal about the need for such wide streets. The marquis answered: one day they will be small. Indeed, the chaotic traffic of Lisbon today reflects the wisdom of his reply.


Pombaline buildings are among the first seismically-protected constructions in the world. Small wooden models were built for testing, and earthquakes were simulated by marching troops around them. Lisbon's "new" downtown, known today as the Pombaline Downtown (Baixa Pombalina), is one of the city's famed attractions. Sections of other Portuguese cities, like the Vila Real de Santo António in Algarve, were also rebuilt along Pombaline principles. Seismology (from the Greek seismos = earthquake and logos = word) is the scientific study of earthquakes and the propagation of elastic waves through the Earth. ... The Pombaline Downtown area in south Lisbon, Portugal. ... Vila Real de Santo Antonio is a city in Algarve, Portugal. ... Algarve NUTS II region, and the district of Faro in Portugal. ...


Social and philosophical implications

The earthquake shook much more than cities and buildings. Lisbon was the capital of a devout Catholic country, with a history of investments in the church and evangelism in the colonies. Moreover, the catastrophe struck on a Catholic holiday and destroyed almost every important church. For eighteenth-century theology and philosophy, this manifestation of the anger of God was difficult to explain. Image File history File links Voltaire3. ... Image File history File links Voltaire3. ... For the singer of the same name, see Voltaire (musician). ... Look up evangelist in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Theology finds its scholars pursuing the understanding of and providing reasoned discourse of religion, spirituality and God or the gods. ... The philosopher Socrates about to take poison hemlock as ordered by the court. ...


The earthquake strongly influenced many thinkers of the European Enlightenment. Many contemporary philosophers mentioned or alluded to the earthquake in their writings, notably Voltaire in Candide and in his Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne ("Poem on the Lisbon disaster"). Voltaire's Candide attacks the notion that all is for the best in this, "the best of all possible worlds", a world closely supervised by a benevolent deity. The Lisbon disaster provided a salutary counterexample. As Theodor Adorno wrote, "[t]he earthquake of Lisbon sufficed to cure Voltaire of the theodicy of Leibniz" (Negative Dialectics 361). In the later twentieth century, following Adorno, the 1755 earthquake has sometimes been compared to the Holocaust as a catastrophe so tremendous as to have a transformative impact on European culture and philosophy. For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... The Age of Enlightenment refers to the 18th century in European philosophy, and is often thought of as part of a larger period which includes the Age of Reason. ... The philosopher Socrates about to take poison hemlock as ordered by the court. ... For the singer of the same name, see Voltaire (musician). ... Candide, ou lOptimisme, (Candide, or Optimism) (1759) is a French language picaresque novel by the Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire. ... The phrase the best of all possible worlds (French:le meilleur des mondes possibles) was coined by the German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz in his 1710 work Essais de Théodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, la liberté de lhomme et lorigine du mal (Theodicy). ... Max Horkheimer (front left), Theodor Adorno (front right), and Jürgen Habermas in the background, right, in 1965 at Heidelberg. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... “Leibniz” redirects here. ... For other uses, see Holocaust (disambiguation) and Shoah (disambiguation). ...


Jean-Jacques Rousseau was also influenced by the devastation following the earthquake, whose severity he believed was due to too many people living within the close quarters of the city. Rousseau used the earthquake as an argument against cities as part of his desire for a more naturalistic way of life. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, (June 28, 1712 – July 2, 1778) was a Genevan philosopher of the Enlightenment whose political ideas influenced the French Revolution, the development of socialist theory, and the growth of nationalism. ...

The concept of the sublime, though it existed before 1755, was developed in philosophy and elevated to greater importance by Immanuel Kant, in part as a result of his attempts to comprehend the enormity of the Lisbon quake and tsunami. Kant published three separate texts on the Lisbon earthquake. The young Kant, fascinated with the earthquake, collected all the information available to him in news pamphlets, and used it to formulate a theory of the causes of earthquakes. Kant's theory, which involved the shifting of huge subterranean caverns filled with hot gases, was (though ultimately shown to be false) one of the first systematic modern attempts to explain earthquakes by positing natural, rather than supernatural, causes. According to Walter Benjamin, Kant's slim early book on the earthquake "probably represents the beginnings of scientific geography in Germany. And certainly the beginnings of seismology." Image File history File links Immanuel_Kant_(painted_portrait). ... Image File history File links Immanuel_Kant_(painted_portrait). ... “Kant” redirects here. ... In aesthetics, the sublime (from the Latin sublimis (exalted)) is the quality of transcendent greatness, whether physical, moral, intellectual or artistic. ... “Kant” redirects here. ... Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin (July 15, 1892 – September 27, 1940) was a German Marxist literary critic, essayist, translator, and philosopher. ...


Werner Hamacher has claimed that the earthquake's consequences extended into the vocabulary of philosophy, making the common metaphor of firm "grounding" for philosophers' arguments shaky and uncertain: "Under the impression exerted by the Lisbon earthquake, which touched the European mind in one [of] its more sensitive epochs, the metaphor of ground and tremor completely lost their apparent innocence; they were no longer merely figures of speech" (263). Hamacher claims that the foundational certainty of Descartes' philosophy began to shake following the Lisbon earthquake. Werner Hamacher (b. ... “Descartes” redirects here. ...


In Portuguese internal politics, the earthquake was devastating. The prime minister was the favorite of the king, but the aristocracy despised him as an upstart son of a country squire. (Although the Prime Minister Sebastião de Melo is known today as Marquis of Pombal, the title was only granted in 1770, fifteen years after the earthquake.) The prime minister in turn disliked the old nobles, whom he considered corrupt and incapable of practical action. Before November 1, 1755 there was a constant struggle for power and royal favour, but afterwards, the competent response of the Marquis of Pombal effectively severed the power of the old aristocratic factions. Silent opposition and resentment of King Joseph I began to rise. This would culminate in an attempted assassination of the king, and the elimination of the powerful Duke of Aveiro and the Távora family. The Marquis of Pombal, or Marquês de Pombal, (13 May 1699 - 15 May 1782) was a Portuguese politician and statesman, prime minister of king Joseph I of Portugal throughout his reign. ... is the 305th day of the year (306th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1755 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... Jose de Mascarendas was the Duke of Aveiro 1708-1759, and was executed by the Marquis_of_Pombal under orders of Joseph_I_of_Portugal. ... The Tavora affair was a political scandal of the 18th century Portuguese court. ...


The birth of seismology

The prime minister's response was not limited to the practicalities of reconstruction. The marquis ordered a query sent to all parishes of the country regarding the earthquake and its effects. Questions included:

  • how long did the earthquake last?
  • how many aftershocks were felt?
  • what kind of damage was caused?
  • did animals behave strangely? (this question anticipated studies by modern Chinese seismologists in the 1960s)
  • what happened in wells and water holes?

The answers to these and other questions are still archived in the Tower of Tombo, the national historical archive. Studying and cross-referencing the priests' accounts, modern scientists were able to reconstruct the event from a scientific perspective. Without the query designed by the Marquis of Pombal, this would have been impossible. Because the marquis was the first to attempt an objective scientific description of the broad causes and consequences of an earthquake, he is regarded as a forerunner of modern seismological scientists. The Marquis of Pombal, or Marquês de Pombal, (13 May 1699 - 15 May 1782) was a Portuguese politician and statesman, prime minister of king Joseph I of Portugal throughout his reign. ...


The geological causes of this earthquake and the seismic activity in the region continue to be discussed and debated by contemporary scientists. This article includes a list of works cited but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ...


See also

The following is a list of major earthquakes. ... Earthquake Baroque is a style of architecture found in places, such at the Philippines and Guatemala, which suffered earthquakes during the 17th century and 18th century and where large public buildings, such as churches were rebuilt in a Baroque style. ...

References

  • Benjamin, Walter. "The Lisbon Earthquake." In Selected Writings vol. 2. Belknap, 1999. ISBN 0-674-94586-7. The often abstruse critic Benjamin gave a series of radio broadcasts for children in the early 1930s; this one, from 1931, discusses the Lisbon earthquake and summarizes some of its impact on European thought.
  • Braun, Theodore E. D., and John B. Radner, eds. The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755: Representations and Reactions (SVEC 2005:02). Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2005. ISBN 0-7294-0857-4. Recent scholarly essays on the earthquake and its representations in art, with a focus on Voltaire. (In English and French.)
  • Brooks, Charles B.. Disaster at Lisbon: The Great Earthquake of 1755. Long Beach: Shangton Longley Press, 1994. (No apparent ISBN.) A narrative history.
  • Chase, J. "The Great Earthquake At Lisbon (1755)". Colliers Magazine, 1920.
  • Dynes, Russell Rowe. "The dialogue between Voltaire and Rousseau on the Lisbon earthquake: The emergence of a social science view." University of Delaware, Disaster Research Center, 1999.
  • Fonseca, J. D.. 1755, O Terramoto de Lisboa, The Lisbon Earthquake. Argumentum, Lisbon, 2004.
  • Hamacher, Werner. "The Quaking of Presentation." In Premises: Essays on Philosophy and Literature from Kant to Celan, pp. 261–293. Stanford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8047-3620-0.
  • Kendrick, T.D.. The Lisbon Earthquake. Philadelphia and New York: J. B. Lippincott, 1957.
  • Neiman, Susan. Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Modern Philosophy. Princeton University Press, 2002. This book centers on philosophical reaction to the earthquake, arguing that the earthquake was responsible for modern conceptions of evil.
  • Ray, Gene. "Reading the Lisbon Earthquake: Adorno, Lyotard, and the Contemporary Sublime." Yale Journal of Criticism 17.1 (2004): pp. 1–18.
  • Seco e Pinto, P.S. (Editor). Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering: Proceedings of the Second International Conference, Lisbon, Portugal, 21–25 June, 1999. ISBN 90-5809-116-3
  • Weinrich, Harald. "Literaturgeschichte eines Weltereignisses: Das Erdbeben von Lissabon." In Literatur für Leser, pp. 64–76. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1971. ISBN 3-17-087225-7. In German. Cited by Hamacher as a broad survey of philosophical and literary reactions to the Lisbon earthquake.

Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin (July 15, 1892 – September 27, 1940) was a German Marxist literary critic, essayist, translator, and philosopher. ... Werner Hamacher (b. ...

External links

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1755 Lisbon earthquake

1755 Lisbon earthquake. ... Image File history File links Sound-icon. ... Year 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 120th day of the year (121st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Image File history File links Sound-icon. ... Image File history File links Commons-logo. ... Image File history File links LinkFA-star. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Reference.com/Encyclopedia/1755 Lisbon earthquake (2072 words)
Lisbon was the capital of a devout Catholic country, with a history of investments in the church and evangelism in the colonies.
The concept of the sublime, though it existed before 1755, was developed in philosophy and elevated to greater importance by Immanuel Kant, in part as a result of his attempts to comprehend the enormity of the Lisbon quake and tsunami.
The geological causes of this earthquake and the seismic activity in the region continue to be discussed and debated by contemporary scientists.
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