New interpretations of the social and material impacts of the 1812 earthquake in Caracas, Venezuela
New interpretations of the social and material impacts of the 1812 earthquake in Caracas, Venezuela (in Ancient earthquakes, Manuel Sintubin (editor), Iain S. Stewart (editor), Tina M. Niemi (editor) and Erhan Altunel (editor))
Special Paper - Geological Society of America (2010) 471: 47-58
This work sheds light on one of the most important earthquakes in Venezuelan history. At 16:07 on Holy Thursday, 26 March 1812, Caracas and the surrounding province of Venezuela suffered a very destructive earthquake. The earthquake occurred at a time of great political, economic, and social upheaval, with the beginning of the Republican revolution and the Spanish royalist military response. Within this historical context of conflict, documentary information may be biased and subjective. This chapter is a methodological and epistemological analysis of the 1812 earthquake damage from letters and manuscripts and an interpretation of the social impact of the earthquake within ideological, subjective, and political context. The widespread destruction of the city of Caracas was heterogeneous in its distribution. Damage was determined largely by the differences in the construction style and quality and by the maintenance status of the building. Based on analyses of three funeral books from the era, the number of earthquake victims in Caracas in 1812 may have been close to 2000. This value is lower than regional estimates of the death toll.