The 1925 Santa Barbara Earthquake: Herbert Nunn's Account

"The day previous had been unusually warm for this district, and although I live directly on the water front on top of a bluff about 85 feet in height, I found it uncomfortably sultry at night. About 3:30 o'clock in the morning I was awakened by a strong odor of crude oil. ... The odor was so offensive that I was unable to sleep and upon getting up to investigate was surprised to note that there was no movement of the air whatever, and I returned to bed and to sleep. ... Our pressure gauge records showed that about 3:27 o'clock A.M., there were slight tremors repeated at intervals up to 6:42 when the heaviest shock was recorded. It is also interesting to note that crude oil came up through the beach sands within 200 yards of my home, and this phenomenon was repeated along the beach at several points south. About one mile south there was a flow of several barrels of oil, which came directly through the beach sands. I relate these facts for what they are worth.

"At the moment of the shock I was sitting on the edge of the bed, facing northeast, and was thrown upon my back. Preceding the shock there was a heavy rumbling sound similar to that of thunder, which apparently came from directly underneath. There was a barely perceptible interval between the rumbling sound and the shock. ... The [first] violent shock was followed instantaneously by a rapid vertical vibration, which I vividly remember.

"I immediately ran from my bedroom to the front lawn. ... As I stepped from the front porch to a slightly sloping grass plot, I was thrown violenty. ... My wife and the gardener, who were on the opposite side of the house at the time, came through [the house]. In stepping from a tiled porch to the grass ... both were thrown violently down. ... The roof was vibrating with sufficient force to break the tiles."

-Herbert Nunn, Santa Barbara city manager, from the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, v. 15, 1925, pg. 308-319.


The Santa Barbara water gauge record (32 kb)

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